Undue Delay or Due Process? Does the Due Process Clause Require a Prompt Post-Seizure Hearing When the Government Seizes an Individual’s Property?

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The Institute for Justice (IJ) has filed a petition for certiorari in Serrano v. CPB, asking the Court: “When the government seizes a vehicle for civil forfeiture, does due process require a prompt post-seizure hearing to test the legality of the seizure and continued detention of the vehicle pending the final forfeiture trial?” As Gerardo Serrano was driving his Ford F-250 truck across the U.S.-Mexico border, CBP agents searched the vehicle and found five .380 caliber bullets and one .380 caliber magazine in the center console. Gerardo explained that he had a valid concealed carry permit in his home state of Kentucky; he had simply forgotten the bullets and magazine were in the truck. CBP seized Gerardo’s truck for civil forfeiture on the ground that he had attempted to export “munitions of war.” Gerardo asked CBP for a hearing before a judge, but CBP held his truck for over two years without a hearing.

Our expert panelists disagree on many of the principal issues of the case: Was Mr. Serrano entitled to a hearing promptly after his vehicle was seized? Is the current forfeiture hearing process and timeline consistent with due process and originalism? Will the Court take this case and what should they decide? On the call to discuss these fascinating questions and more is IJ attorney, Rob Johnson, Mr. Serrano’s lead attorney, and two of the leading experts on civil-asset forfeiture in the country today, Stef Cassella and David Smith.


Stef Cassella, CEO, Asset Forfeiture Law, LLC

Robert Johnson, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice 

David Smith, David B. Smith, PLLC

Moderator: Adam Griffin, Constitutional Law Fellow, Institute for Justice


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