Wesley Hottot joined the Institute for Justice in 2008. He is the co-director of IJ’s National Initiative to End Civil Forfeiture.
In 2019, he won the landmark case of Timbs v. Indiana in the U.S. Supreme Court , which established that state and local authorities must comply with the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment when they attempt to forfeit property.
In 2015, Wesley won another landmark victory in the Texas Supreme Court, when the court struck down the state’s eyebrow threading regulations and announced a new test for reviewing economic regulations under the Texas Constitution. Recently, he has won a series of civil forfeiture cases, including the successful defense of a San Diego family who had their life savings seized because the father operated a legal medical-marijuana business. His work has been discussed in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Oregonian, Tennessean, Seattle Times, Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News and other print, radio, and television outlets.
Wesley received his law degree from the University of Washington, where he completed a judicial externship with Justice Richard Sanders of the Washington Supreme Court and a two-year clerkship with the Institute’s Washington office. He was an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia and graduated with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa.
Wayne County Seized His Car Without Evidence. When He Spoke Out, They Filed Criminal Charges to Silence Him. Now He is Fighting Back.
Four years ago, Robert Reeves’ car was seized by police in Detroit using civil forfeiture. Although he was never charged with a crime, police attempted to use civil forfeiture to seize and keep Robert’s 1991…
Marine veteran Stephen Lara was left on the side of the highway in Nevada without any money, after police took his life savings without ever charging him with any wrongdoing. Stephen has teamed up with…
Harris County, Texas, has an unconstitutional financial incentive for law enforcement to seize property and cash excessively without probable cause, often sweeping up innocent people in the process. Ameal Woods and Jordan Davis are two…
Oklahoma requires eyebrow threaders to spend 600 hours learning skills that have nothing to do with eyebrow threading. This useless regulation prevents people from earning an honest living, which is why two eyebrow threaders have…
For decades, residents of Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan have lived under constant threat of having their cars taken away and ransomed back to them for $1,000 or more—that is, if the car is ever…
Texas Bans Doctors from Offering Medication to Their Patients Just to Protect Pharmacies from Competition
In most states, patients can purchase medication directly from the doctor prescribing it. But in Texas, doctors are banned from dispensing unless they practice in certain “rural” areas more than 15 miles from a pharmacy—a…
Hair-braiders in Louisiana are required to complete 500 hours of unnecessary and irrelevant training, pass an exam and pay annual licensing fees just to do their job. Many hair braiders have moved to neighboring states,…
U.S. Customs & Border Protection Unlawfully Seizes Cleveland Family’s Life Savings, Won’t Give It Back
Rustem Kazazi, a retired police officer from Albania, who now leaves in a Cleveland suburb, was flying home to Albania when Customs and Border Patrol stripped him naked and took his family’s money through the…
U.S. Supreme Court Opinon Final Victory for Tyson Timbs Case Video…
Illegal Math? A state board in Oregon is punishing people for talking about traffic lights and any other “engineering” topics
Mats Järlström is an engineer, and he used those skills to criticize the formula used on red lights, suggesting the yellow lights should last a little longer. He was hit with a $500 fine from…
Lata Jagtiani, Ushaben Chudasama and Panna Shah have partnered with the Institute for Justice to fight for her right to earn an honest living threading eyebrows in Louisiana.
In November 2014, San Diego joined a growing number of cities by lifting its decades-long cap on the number of cabs allowed on its streets. For Abdi Abdisalan and Abdullahi Hassan, the dream of going…
Government Unreformed: IRS Seizes $107,000 From Innocent Small Business, Despite Recent Policy Changes Meant To Prevent Exactly This Kind Of Case
Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart, a gas station, restaurant, and convenience store in rural Fairmont, North Carolina. Then, one year ago, without any warning, agents from the IRS…
The IRS seized Carole’s money using civil forfeiture, which allows law enforcement agencies to take cash, cars and other property without so much as charging the property owner with a crime.
Almost a decade after IJ successfully sued Washington state over its irrational hair braiding laws, officials once again tried to force natural hair braiders to become licensed cosmetologists.
Protectionism in Portland, Ore.: City Threatened $895,000 in Fines For Limo Entrepreneurs Who Offered Groupon Discounts
Portland, Ore., cannot constitutionally set transportation prices and make limousine and sedan customers wait for service merely to protect taxis from competition.
Eyebrow threading is a booming industry in Texas. But state bureaucrats are making it difficult for individuals to continue practicing this ancient art.
Wesley's Research & Reports
Civil Forfeiture | Private Property
Policing for Profit, 2nd Edition Published in 2015, this is an older edition of IJ’s landmark Policing for Profit report. You can download the report here, but please see the third and current edition for the most up-to-date…
This report focuses on the areas Houston needs to improve in order to remain an opportunity city for all.
Texas has a unique heritage of inspiring entrepreneurs. But the state has been restricting the economic liberty long enjoyed by its citizens.
Wesley's Amicus Briefs
Mack v. Williams
Nevada Supreme Court
Stewart v. City of Euclid
U.S. Supreme Court
New Jersey v. Anderson
Evangelisto Ramos v. Louisiana
Rafaeli v. Oakland County
Michigan Supreme Court
Carpenter v. United States
United States Supreme Court
Wesley's News, Articles & Publications
IJ joined with eyebrow threading salon owner Ash Patel, along with several other threading salon owners and individual threaders, to challenge the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation’s requirement that threaders become fully licensed cosmetologists to practice their trade, which involves using a single strand of cotton thread to remove unwanted hair. Read More
After Tyson Timbs got caught selling four grams of heroin to undercover officers, he pleaded guilty to drug dealing. He served one year on house arrest, paid $1,200 in court fees, and, most importantly, got clean. But the state of Indiana cared a lot more about his car—an expensive (and legally purchased) Land Rover, which he was driving the day of his arrest. The state filed a lawsuit to civilly forfeit the vehicle, arguing that it had been used to convey Tyson a few blocks to one of his meetings with the undercover officers. Read More