Federal Forfeiture of Real Estate in Practice: A New Form of Eminent Domain?

  • December 22, 2012
  • • Written by: Patricia S. Wall, J.D., CPA M.B.A, Ed.D Lee Sarver, Ph.D. 

Winter 2012, Vol. 37, Nos. 2&3

Abstract: The owners of the Motel Caswell in Massachusetts currently are contesting the federal forfeiture of this motel in federal court. The United States Department of Justice asserts that the property should be forfeited under federal law on the ground that it had been used in connection with recent drug activities— eight convictions of hotel patrons for drug-related crimes between 2001 and 2008. The owner has not been convicted of any crime. Is this another area in which the federal government is unlawfully overruling state power? Will this case spawn revisions to forfeiture laws similar to the revisions of state eminent domain statutes that followed Kelo v. City of New London? In this article, the authors examine the issues.