Lawsuit: Prosecutors Filed Bogus Charges Against Detroit Man in Retaliation for Challenging Seizure of Car
A Detroit man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging county prosecutors illegally retaliated against him after he challenged the seizure of his car under asset forfeiture laws.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday on behalf of Robert Reeves by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm, claims that Wayne County prosecutors twice filed baseless criminal charges against him after he joined a class-action lawsuit in an attempt to get his seized car back, violating his First and 14th Amendment rights.
“Wayne County’s meritless criminal prosecutions against Robert were an unconstitutional effort to punish him for challenging the government in court, and a desperate attempt to defend the county’s rapacious vehicle forfeiture scheme by any means necessary,” the lawsuit says.
In July of 2019, police seized Reeves’ 1991 Chevrolet Camaro, along with more than $2,000 in cash, after stopping him on suspicion of stealing a skid steer from Home Depot. For more than six months, Reeves was not arrested or charged with a crime, and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office (WCPO) didn’t file a notice of intent to forfeit his car, meaning he wasn’t able to officially challenge the seizure.
Reeves then joined a class-action lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice in 2020 challenging Wayne County’s aggressive asset forfeiture program. He was one of three named plaintiffs who claimed the county forces owners through a monthslong, onerous process to challenge a seizure, violating their Fourth, Eighth, and 14th Amendment rights.
The day after the class-action suit was announced, the WCPO instructed a state police task force to release Reeves’ car and return his cash, according to Thursday’s lawsuit.
But two weeks later, the WCPO filed felony charges against Reeves for receiving and concealing stolen property, then asked the judge overseeing the class-action lawsuit to suspend his suit while the criminal case against him proceeded. In February of 2021, after more than a year of delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the judge in the criminal case against Reeves dismissed the charges for lack of evidence. Less than a month later, t
Article from Reason.com