The right to a jury trial is fundamental to our justice system. The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases in federal court. Likewise, most state constitutions protect the right to a jury trial in civil cases in state court. The Indiana Constitution is no exception.
Yet, in contrast to courts in many other states, the Indiana Court of Appeals has held that there is no right to a jury trial in civil forfeiture cases in Indiana’s courts. In this, the court erred badly, depriving people statewide of a vital constitutional protection in the process.
IJ has asked the Indiana Supreme Court to confirm what should already be obvious: When the government sues to forfeit your property, you are entitled to make your case to a jury. As of July 26, 2023, we are awaiting the court’s decision.