This term, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether the Constitution’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to the states. The case is Timbs. v. Indiana. Associate Kevin Golembiewski co-counseled an amicus brief in support of the petitioner, Mr. Timbs, who seeks protection of the Clause. Mr. Golembiewski co-counseled in his capacity as amicus chair of the Federal Bar Association’s Civil Rights Section. Several other organizations also counseled the brief, including the DKT Liberty Project, the Due Process Institute, the Goldwater Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Here’s a brief overview of the case. Mr. Timbs was convicted for non-violent offenses in Indiana state court. The District Attorney sought to take his car by civil forfeiture, but the trial court held that the Excessive Fines Clause prohibits the forfeiture. According to the court, the maximum fine for Timbs’s offenses was $10,000 and the car was worth four times that, so forfeiting it was excessive.
The state court of appeals affirmed, but the state Supreme Court reversed, finding that the Excessive Fines Clause does not apply to the states through the 14th Amendment. In doing so, the Court recognized that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded the opposite.
Mr. Timbs then asked the United States Supreme Court to review the decision. The Court agreed to. It will hear the case in the coming months.