John Kramer
John Kramer · February 3, 2021


Indiana Supreme Court Hears Timbs Excessive Fines Argument, for Third Time,
After U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Overturns Earlier Ruling
& Trial Court Awards Timbs His Vehicle

Thursday, February 4, 2021 / 9 a.m. EST

Indiana Supreme Court
Livestreamed on the court’s website:

The livestream, which was originally scheduled for January, will begin two minutes prior to the argument. If you are unable to watch live, you can still view the argument at this link two hours after its conclusion.

Sam Gedge, Attorney, Institute for Justice

John Kramer, IJ VP for Communications, (703) 682-9323 ext. 205

Will the third time before the Indiana Supreme Court finally be the charm for Tyson Timbs to resolve once and for all the legal case over the government’s seizure of his vehicle? Indiana’s lower courts have repeatedly ruled that taking Timbs’ vehicle for a low-level drug offense violates the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. In 2019, the case also prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule definitively that the Excessive Fines Clause applies not just to the federal government, but to the states as well. Since then, the trial court in Grant County, Indiana, has once again ruled that the state’s forfeiture campaign against Timbs amounts to an unconstitutional excessive fine. The State of Indiana, once again, has appealed.

At the hearing at 9 a.m. on Thursday, February 4, 2021, Sam Gedge, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, which represents Timbs, will argue that the lower court got it right. Timbs’ misconduct was relatively minor: while struggling with addiction, he was induced by undercover officers to sell drugs—to them, and to them alone. And since pleading guilty in 2015, Timbs has turned his life around, holding down jobs, participating in treatment and caring for a sick aunt. But throughout, the government has made his recovery immeasurably harder by trying to strip him of his car. Following last year’s trial-court ruling, the state finally returned Tyson’s vehicle to him. But the case isn’t over; the state has again appealed, reprising an extreme argument that it debuted before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018: the government should be allowed to impose any forfeiture—no matter how punitive—for any crime, no matter how minor.

Before the trial court, the Institute for Justice successfully argued that the forfeiture imposed on Timbs violates the Excessive Fines Clause. It will be defending that ruling on appeal.

Attorney Gedge said, “Incredibly, the State of Indiana has devoted nearly a decade to trying to confiscate a vehicle from a low-income recovering addict. No one should have to spend eight years fighting the government just to get back their car.”

Watch the argument live at:

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