Alabama Law Review


Timbs v. Indiana  One Year Later: The Future of Civil Asset Forfeiture

March 6, 2020 | 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. | Bedsole Moot Court Room (Rm. 140)

The Alabama Law Review hosted a one-day symposium, Timbs v. Indiana One Year Later: The Future of Civil Asset Forfeiture, on March 6, 2020 at the Law School. The symposium explored the consequences of the Timbs U.S. Supreme Court case. 

In its landmark 2019 opinion, Timbs v. Indiana, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the states and may, as a result, regulate state civil asset forfeiture. This symposium featured three panel discussions with prominent law professors and practitioners as well as a keynote address from Wesley Hottot, the senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, who argued the Timbs case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The symposium addressed crucial questions that remain about the decision’s impact in the context of civil asset forfeiture. While the Court said that the Excessive Fines Clause applied to Mr. Timbs’s civil asset forfeiture case, it did not say that his case violated the Excessive Fines Clause. Nor did the court’s decision set any standards regarding the regulation of such forfeiture. Since the Timbs decision, civil asset forfeiture practices have come under sharp criticism, especially in Alabama, where the practice is regularly used to fund law enforcement operations. Some organizations and lawmakers have called for reform, including the possible outright repeal of the practice.

The three panel discussions covered the following topics: the history of civil asset forfeiture and its current practices, civil asset forfeiture’s impact on race and class, and the future of civil asset forfeiture in Alabama. Panelists included esteemed law professors from around the country, practicing Department of Justice attorneys, and reform advocates.