Eviction of innocents for others' actions violates principles of fairness
Washington, DC (March 26, 2002) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers announced that it will seek Congressional legislation to remedy the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today in HUD v. Rucker, which allows eviction of innocent public housing tenants for the drug activity of others.
"This law is unfair," said Irwin Schwartz, president of NACDL. "The Supreme Court allowed HUD to interpret its anti-drug rules to evict public housing tenants who have done nothing wrong, and penalize them for conduct of others. Congress must change the law to keep roofs over the heads of innocent people that HUD would make homeless."
The tenants evicted in Rucker included two grandmothers whose grandsons were caught with marijuana in a public housing parking lot, a disabled man whose in-home caregivers were caught with drugs in his apartment, and a woman whose daughter, living with her at the time, was caught with cocaine three blocks away.
"Congress changed federal forfeiture law so that homes could no longer be taken from owners who had no knowledge or control of those using their property for drug activity," said Schwartz. "Now Congress must extend the same protection to those who live in government-subsidized housing. NACDL was instrumental in obtaining the change in federal forfeiture law and will work with Congress to remedy this most recent injustice as soon as possible."
NACDL will have proposed legislation available to Congress before the end of its recess.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.