Jackson Channel.com, MS
December 11, 2005
JACKSON, Miss. -- The Mississippi Supreme Court has been asked to allow the city of Aberdeen to keep $7,600 it claimed it legally seized during a drug investigation.
The issue questions Mississippi's drug forfeiture law and what government officials must prove to keep items that are seized during a drug case.
James Evans, Jr. is seeking the return of $7,600 cash that Aberdeen police seized after a raid on his home. Police, acting on a tip from a confidential informant, had obtained a search warrant from a city judge.
In addition to the cash found hidden under a television console in Evans' room at his parents' home, police officers seized a nearby brass container attached to a Brillo pad, a piece of tin foil with holes in it, plastic bags and a cigarette pack with some residue.
In 2003, a trial judge ruled the items seized were drug-distributing paraphernalia, and that the money was found in close proximity to the paraphernalia, thereby creating a presumption that the cash was forfeitable.
In April, the state Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge and ordered the money returned to Evans.
The city appealed and the Supreme Court agreed last week to hear the case.
The Appeals Court says the city of Aberdeen failed to prove the presence of drugs and paraphernalia in Evans' room or that the money was used in a drug crime.
According to the court record, Evans testified that he had saved the money to buy a car.
The Appeals Court says the city provided no testimony that anything in Evans' room was used to manufacture or distribute drugs, which is required by state law to support keeping the money.