On January 3, 2017, Governor Snyder repealed the law that requires Claimants to post a bond to contest the civil forfeiture of property seized by a state agency. This is a dramatic change from the State’s previous law requiring Claimants to post a bond of 10% of the value of the property seized to contest its forfeiture. The repeal of the bond requirement comes after Shantrese Kinnon successfully challenged Michigan’s law in the Court of Appeals. The Court held that the requirement for a bond was unconstitutional and a violation of Ms. Kinnon’s due process rights because she could not afford to pay the full bond amount to challenge the forfeiture of all of the assets the police seized from her. (In Re: Forfeiture of 2000 GMC Denali, et. al., COA No. 328547 (August 2, 2016)).
The repeal of the bond requirement supplements the other civil forfeiture reform laws in Michigan passed in October 2015 that require local police departments to disclose annually the assets they seize and forfeit, the violations related to the assets forfeited, and, the ultimate disposition of the assets. The October laws also raised the prosecution’s burden of proof to forfeit assets from preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing evidence. All of these reforms are good for Claimants in a civil forfeiture and a good start to 2017!