NewsHour: Double Jeopardy in the War on Drugs – April 17, 1996

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Now for more on today’s oral arguments, we turn to NewsHour regular Stuart Taylor of the "American Lawyer" magazine. Stuart, thank you for joining us. We’ve just seen the details of the California case, but there were two cases, the other from Michigan. Briefly explain that one.

STUART TAYLOR, The American Lawyer: Yes. The Michigan case is a little bit more sympathetic for the defendant than this case in California, because the defendant in Michigan, for one thing, is not a drug dealer. He grew some marijuana near his home, and he cured it in his home, and he, his wife, and his grown son smoked it until the son broke up with his fiancee, who turned them all in, and they were arrested, or he was arrested, and first, his property, the government tried to forfeit his home and his ten acres, and then they prosecuted, convicted him, and wanted to send him to prison for five years. And he’s in the Supreme Court saying, they can’t do both of these things to me.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Are the cases together? I mean, they’re joined?

STUART TAYLOR: The cases have been consolidated because they have a lot more in common than they have indifferent, but it would be possible for, for one of them to win and the other to lose, not likely but possible.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And basically just to reiterate that the case is simply–can you say the case is simply–

STUART TAYLOR: Simply about–


STUART TAYLOR: Yeah. The only issue in both cases is whether the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution bars the government from first prosecuting someone for the crime and then trying to forfeit their property in a separate proceeding, or doing the same thing in the reverse order.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Why is this case so important?