Friday, May 8, 2015

I'll Be There for You

The iconic 90s TV show Friends impacted popular culture in many ways, from The Rachel haircut to Joey's "How you doin'?" And now, the show has inspired Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  

This week, in an opinion in a forfeiture case, Judge Brown accused the government of acting like Rachel from Friends:

In an episode of the iconic 1990s television show Friends, Joey Tribbiani tries to dissuade Rachel Green from moving to Paris. Joey asks Rachel to flip a coin. If he wins the coin flip, she must agree to stay. Rachel flips the coin; Joey loses. When later recounting the story to Ross Gellar, a befuddled Joey says, "[w]ho loses fifty-seven coin tosses in a row?" Friends: The One with Rachel’s Going Away Party (NBC television broadcast Apr. 29, 2004). Before Ross can answer, Joey explains Rachel’s rules: "Heads, she wins; tails, I lose." Id.

The proceedings in this case have largely followed the same rules. SunRise Academy ("SunRise") claimed the federal government seized property from criminal defendant Charles Emor belonging to SunRise. But the government succeeded in excluding SunRise from Emor’s criminal proceedings, suggesting SunRise could press its claims to the property in a third-party forfeiture proceeding. When SunRise later did so, the government filed a motion to dismiss the petition, contending that SunRise should be denied a hearing based on findings the court made in the prior proceeding from which SunRise was excluded. Because this heads the government wins and tails SunRise loses form of criminal forfeiture does not comport with the statutory scheme, we reverse.

The opinion in United States v. Emor is here.

Happy Friday!

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