St. Paul, Minn. (Aug. 20, 2014) — The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed and remanded a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision in the civil forfeiture case Garcia-Mendoza v. 2003 Chevy Tahoe.
In this case, an individual’s vehicle and money were seized by the police after drugs were found during a traffic stop, even though the District Court found the stop to be an illegal stop. The ACLU-MN argued in their amicus brief that the because the initial stop was found to be illegal, the exclusionary rule should apply.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals had earlier ruled that the exclusionary rule does not apply. Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed that decision, and remanded the case back to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to address other legal issues raised by Hennepin County in the lower court.
The following statement can be attributed to Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN, regarding the Minnesota Supreme Court decision.
“We are extremely pleased to that the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld our constitutional rights when they ruled that the exclusionary rule should apply to illegal stops in civil forfeiture cases.The constitution protects us from the police taking our property without a legal process. By arguing that police can seize property found during an illegal stop, the state would have created a loophole where there should not be one.
“The Minnesota Supreme Court sent a clear message that abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws to benefit the coffers of police departments will not be tolerated.”