A case challenging civil forfeitures by Indianapolis police and the prosecutor’s office will be able to move forward after Marion Superior Court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss earlier this week.
The complaint, Jeana M. Horner, Dennis Jack Horner, Jennifer K. Thompson et al. v. Terry R. Curry, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Consolidated city of Indianapolis/Marion County, et al., 49D06-1602-PL-004804, was filed in February by the Virginia-based Institute for Justice. Plaintiffs charge that Indianapolis law enforcement is violating the Indiana Constitution by keeping all of the proceeds from civil forfeitures instead of forwarding those funds to the state’s schools.
In April, the defendants, represented by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office, filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the plaintiffs lack standing. Judge Thomas Carroll held a hearing on July 12 and rejected the motion in an order issued July 19.
“The court recognized that Indiana citizens have a vital interest in making sure that law enforcement follows the law,” said Institute for Justice attorney Sam Gedge. “Civil forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today. And in Indiana, policing for profit is not just wrong, it is unconstitutional.”
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office said it was reviewing the trial court’s ruling and would decide, by the appropriate deadlines, what steps to take next.