Indiana man gets his seized SUV back after a 7-year battle

An Indiana man got his seized SUV back after a seven-year battle with the Grant County courtroom and U.S. Supreme Court.

Posted: May 4, 2020 8:13 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana man got his seized SUV back after a seven-year battle with the Grant County courtroom and U.S. Supreme Court.

Tyson Timbs' Land Rover was returned on Monday after an order was issued by a Grant County judge, according to The Journal Gazette. The case had drawn national attention from groups concerned about police abuse and organizations opposed to excessive regulation.

Police had seized his $35,000 SUV in 2013 when he was arrested for selling near $500 worth of heroin.

Timbs was charged with dealing a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft after. He pleaded guilty to the charges in 2015, court records show.

A trial court ruled the vehicle was used to transport the drugs Timbs sold but noted the seizure of his vehicle was “grossly disproportional to the gravity of the defendant's offense” and unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, which bars the government from putting in place excessive bail or fines.

“The state's refusal to give back my car has never made sense,” Timbs said in a statement. "Why do you want to make things harder by taking away the vehicle I need to meet with my parole officer or go to a drug recovery program or go to work?"

Timbs was represented in the case by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm.

Grant Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Todd called the case “a mismatch between crime and punishment.”

“Tyson’s case went through every level of the American judicial system – in some instances, twice. The state’s relentless use of its forfeiture machine has been a deeply unjust exercise of power, and it underscores that civil forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today,” said Institute for Justice senior attorney Wesley Hottot, who argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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