United States of America v. $79,010.00 in United States Currency

Filing 45

ORDER denying 34 Claimant's Motion to suppress the disclaimer ; denying as moot 42 Claimant's Motion to suppress the officer's affidavit ; denying as moot 43 Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the motion at (Doc. 42). Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 7/1/11.(DMT)

Download PDF
1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) $79,010.00 in United States currency, et ) ) al., ) ) Defendants. ) ) United States of America, No. CV10-0244-PHX-DGC ORDER 15 16 Claimant pro se moves to suppress a disclaimer of ownership (Doc. 34), Plaintiff 17 United States opposes (Doc. 41), and Claimant did not file a reply. Claimant also moves to 18 suppress the affidavit of an officer included with Plaintiff’s response. Doc. 42. Plaintiff 19 moves to strike the latter motion (Doc. 43), and Claimant filed a notice of errata (Doc. 44). 20 This is a civil currency forfeiture action where it is alleged Claimant signed a 21 disclaimer of ownership. Doc. 1 at 8. Claimant moves to suppress the disclaimer because 22 it was given to him “under direct duress and indirect force.” Doc. 34 at 1. Claimant appears 23 to argue that because he was handcuffed and detained at the time the disclaimer was given 24 to him to sign, this constitutes duress such that the disclaimer is void. Id. at 1-2. Claimant 25 suggests that this conclusion is rooted in, and the analysis is governed by, contract law. Id. 26 at 1 (moving “to suppress this contract title[d] Disclaimer of Ownership,” and noting that 27 “this contract (Disclaimer of Ownership) [is] not valid” (emphasis in original)). 28 1 The disclaimer form attached to Claimant’s motion bears the seal of the Arizona 2 Department of Public Safety (Doc. 34 at 5), and Claimant does not allege that the officer 3 allegedly creating the duress was a federal officer. Therefore, to the extent Claimant does 4 not argue that another source of law applies, the Court will apply Arizona law. Under 5 Arizona law, duress in the contractual context is defined as either “any wrongful act of one 6 person that compels a manifestation of apparent assent by another to a transaction without 7 his volition” or “any wrongful threat of one person by words or other conduct that induces 8 another to enter into a transaction under the influence of such fear as precludes him from 9 exercising free will and judgment, if the threat was intended or should reasonably have been 10 expected to operate as an inducement.” Inter-Tel, Inc. v. Bank of Amer., 985 P.2d 596, 602 11 (Ariz. App. 1999) (citing Restatement of Contracts § 492). 12 In this case, Claimant has not shown that his detention or handcuffing was a wrongful 13 act in the context of the facts alleged by Plaintiff. Moreover, Claimant has not shown that 14 lawful handcuffing and detention by a police officer is per se duress under Arizona contract 15 law, nor has Claimant shown any wrongful threats or inducement in this case. Therefore, the 16 Court finds Claimant’s arguments without merit and will deny the motion to suppress.1 17 Because Claimant’s motion to suppress the disclaimer is denied on its face without 18 the need to examine the affirmations made by the officer’s affidavit, the motion to suppress 19 the officer’s affidavit and the motion to strike will be denied as moot. 20 IT IS ORDERED: 21 1. Claimant’s motion to suppress the disclaimer (Doc. 34) is denied. 22 2. Claimant’s motion to suppress the officer’s affidavit (Doc. 42) is denied as moot. 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 The response by Plaintiff United States argues that the disclaimer is not an involuntary or coerced confession under the federal constitution. Doc. 41 at 9-16. Because Claimant has made a contractual duress argument, not a constitutional argument, and Claimant has not filed a reply addressing the constitutional issues, the Court need not pass judgment on the merits of the government’s constitutional arguments. -2- 1 3. Plaintiff’s motion to strike the motion at Doc. 42 (Doc. 43) is denied as moot. 2 DATED this 1st day of July, 2011. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -3-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?