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QUINONES-RUIZ v. UNITED STATES

January 6, 1995

JOHNNY QUINONES-RUIZ, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE, and DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: IRMA E. GONZALEZ

 The United States' motion for reconsideration came on regularly for hearing on January 3, 1995, at 10:30 a.m., in Courtroom 11 of the above-entitled court, the Honorable Irma E. Gonzalez, District Judge, presiding. Donald D. Clausen, Esq., appeared on behalf of the United States. John F. Cherry, Esq., appeared on behalf of plaintiff Johnny Quinones-Ruiz.

 I

 BACKGROUND

 Shortly afterwards, Mr. Quinones-Ruiz was indicted under 31 U.S.C. § 5324(b), Failure to File Report, and 18 U.S.C. § 1001, False Statement. In August 1993, he pleaded guilty to one count of false statement. Also in the summer of 1993, the Customs Service forfeited his currency administratively pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 5317.

 In November 1993, Mr. Quinones-Ruiz filed a late petition for return of his currency with the Customs Service. That petition was denied. On January 11, 1994, he filed a complaint in this Court under 5 U.S.C. § 704 seeking return of the money seized. He contended that he had received insufficient notice, that he had been searched without probable cause, and that the forfeiture violated the Excessive Fines and Double Jeopardy Clauses.

 On September 23, 1994, this Court granted summary judgment to Mr. Quinones-Ruiz on the ground that the forfeiture had subjected him to double jeopardy. The Court also held at that time that his rights to notice and to freedom from unreasonable searches were not violated. Quinones-Ruiz v. United States, 864 F. Supp. 983 (S.D. Cal. 1994). On October 7, 1994, the United States filed a motion for reconsideration of the September 23 order.

 II

 DISCUSSION

 A. Federal Jurisdiction

 The parties do not dispute the existence of federal jurisdiction, but the Court must inquire into it sua sponte. Mr. Quinones-Ruiz filed suit under 5 U.S.C. §§ 702 and 704. Those provisions permit a district court to review the constitutionality of a forfeiture if (1) the claimant is seeking only return of the property, not money damages, and (2) there is no adequate remedy in another forum. See United States v. Clagett, 3 F.3d 1355, 1356 (9th Cir. 1993); Marshall Leasing Inc. v. United States, 893 F.2d 1096, 1099-1100 (9th Cir. 1990).

 Here, Mr. Quinones-Ruiz is seeking only return of the forfeited property, so he meets the first part of the test. However, there is a question as to whether the Customs Service claim procedure was an adequate remedy in another forum. See Clagett, 3 F.3d at 1356 n.1 ("If notice was adequate the forfeiture proceeding provided an adequate legal remedy and Clagett will not be entitled to equitable relief."). The Court finds that under the circumstances of this case, Mr. Quinones-Ruiz did not receive sufficient notice to make the Customs Service claim procedure an adequate ...


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