Indiana high court to hear civil forfeiture, schools case

Indiana's highest court will consider whether all civil forfeitures in the state must be paid into a fund that helps school districts pay for technology upgrades, building new schools and other projects.

Posted: Jul 4, 2018 10:24 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's highest court will consider whether all civil forfeitures in the state must be paid into a fund that helps school districts pay for technology upgrades, building new schools and other projects.

The Indiana Supreme Court must decide whether a state constitutional requirement that "all forfeitures" be paid to the Common School Fund really means "all," The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

Police and prosecutors have been permitted by Indiana law since 1984 to divert for "expenses" a portion of the revenue generated through the seizure of property and cash connected to criminal enterprises — a process known as civil forfeiture.

Such forfeitures generated $3.4 million during 2017, but only about $63,000 was deposited in the Common School Fund, according to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

The fund is used to pay for educational technology programs, school construction, charter school operations, and to help pay down local school deficits.

Six taxpayers are suing Marion County over its civil forfeiture distribution scheme. And the high court, in a rare move, has agreed to bypass a review of that case by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The justices will decide whether Marion Superior Judge Thomas Carroll was correct in ruling that "all forfeitures" does not include civil forfeitures, which he said were not known when the state Constitution was adopted in 1851.

A new Indiana law that took effect Sunday permits police and prosecutors in every county to retain 90 percent of forfeiture proceeds, regardless of expenses, with just 10 percent dedicated to the Common School Fund.

The six taxpayers suing Marion County said in a court filing that the new law makes it even more urgent for the state Supreme Court to determine if the Indiana Constitution actually means what it says.

"Whether that revenue must go to the school fund or whether it can be diverted elsewhere is an important statewide question of constitutional law, making it appropriate for review," they said.

The plaintiffs also warned that not directing civil forfeiture proceeds to the school fund opens the door to policing for profit — where police agencies and prosecutors supplement their budgets by, for example, seeking forfeiture of vehicles used in minor theft cases.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry urged the state Supreme Court to take the case, calling the distribution of forfeitures a "substantial question of law of great public importance."

Indiana's forfeiture practices also are set for review by the U.S. Supreme Court by early next year. In a separate case, the state sought forfeiture of a drug dealer's $42,000 Land Rover, even though the maximum fine tied to his crimes was $10,000. The court will decide whether the Eighth Amendment's protections against excessive fines apply to state forfeiture cases.

West Lafayette
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 50°
Kokomo
Overcast
47° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 42°
Rensselaer
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 39°
Fowler
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 39°
Williamsport
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 43°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 46°
Frankfort
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 45°
Delphi
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 42°
Monticello
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 42°
Logansport
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 41°
Drier weather for now with temperatures still averaging above normal.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 318894

Reported Deaths: 5561
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion43391855
Lake27599462
Allen18363299
Elkhart17474226
St. Joseph17071234
Hamilton13376169
Vanderburgh9839121
Tippecanoe880629
Porter844886
Johnson6556169
Hendricks6267158
Vigo618187
Monroe542850
Clark522877
Madison5153122
Delaware5014103
LaPorte474695
Kosciusko468540
Howard357977
Warrick329872
Floyd324978
Bartholomew323563
Wayne318074
Marshall308146
Cass302631
Grant282050
Noble261546
Hancock260355
Henry252837
Boone248754
Dubois242931
Dearborn222631
Jackson222534
Morgan215543
Knox189720
Shelby189556
Gibson189426
Clinton182121
DeKalb181632
Lawrence179748
Adams171022
Wabash168121
Miami166614
Daviess160144
Steuben150713
Fayette150034
Jasper147413
Montgomery146627
Harrison145524
LaGrange145031
Whitley140814
Ripley138515
Huntington130910
Decatur128243
Wells127930
Putnam127828
White127522
Clay126523
Randolph126121
Posey124116
Jefferson122916
Scott112320
Greene104653
Jay100713
Sullivan99216
Starke94021
Jennings88714
Fulton86419
Spencer8588
Perry83721
Fountain8078
Washington7837
Franklin71327
Carroll69613
Orange69028
Vermillion6444
Owen6317
Tipton58927
Parke5886
Newton56912
Rush5658
Blackford54012
Pike51619
Pulaski41115
Martin3645
Benton3553
Brown3514
Crawford3031
Union2752
Switzerland2605
Warren2542
Ohio2337
Unassigned0266

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events