Attorney at Law
821 Witzel Avenue
Oshkosh, WI 54902
(920) 233-3300

I listen, I care,
and I can help you
821 Witzel Avenue
Oshkosh, WI 54902

(920) 233-3300 phone
(920) 233-3600 fax


Professional Legal Services For:

Oshkosh - Neenah - Menasha - Omro Winneconne - Appleton - Green Lake
Fond du Lac - Winnebago County
Fond du Lac County - Outagamie County Fox River Valley


                                                                          The Case of the Taken Toyota

 In an interesting analysis, the Court of Appeals looked at two separate issues with respect to this vehicle forfeiture case.  The first was who actually “owned” the car at the time it was taken by the State.  Given all of the trappings of ownership that related to Seller (he was the operator; he paid for all of the upkeep and maintenance; he paid for the insurance; it was his personal possessions in the car; etc). -- the Court concluded that Seller was actually the “owner” of the vehicle for seizure purposes related to the criminal enterprise he was engaged in.  But then out of fairness the Court had to analyze the impact of the forfeiture of an almost new car upon the two individuals that had an economic stake in it.  And even though Seller was the “owner” for purposes of whether the vehicle could be seized or not -- there was the separate issue of whether it was fair to Friend to see her investment go down the drain because the person she trusted decided to start a small business involving certain illegal vegetable products.  In balancing the equities in this case, the Court focused on a very obscure portion of the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution: the Excessive Fines Clause -- which stands for the proposition that forfeitures that are grossly excessive are also thus unconstitutional.  In looking at the stakes of the two co-titleholders in this case, the forfeiture of Seller’s $3,050.00 financial interest in the Corolla (the $2,500.00 that he put into it and the $550.00 that he had paid to Friend toward the $20,000.00 debt he owed to her) was deemed not to violate the Excessive Fines Clause and therefore there was no problem in selling the vehicle as far as the court was concerned.  But the loss by Friend of her entire financial interest, however, was an entirely different matter in the minds of the Judges and therefore what they decided to do was to permit the vehicle to be sold and $3,050.00 of the auction proceeds were to be forfeited to the State.  Any remaining money (and hopefully for her sake there was a lot) would be returned to Friend and thus she was saved from an unconstitutionally excessive fine even though she would still be subject to the whims of the used car auction market on the day the tainted Toyota came up for bids.
The HOW WOULD YOU DECIDE? feature (which will be changed periodically) of my website is intended to inform and perhaps amuse viewers by providing a synopsis of how the legal system actually works in real life here in Wisconsin. Although there is no pleasure in discovering the woes that beset others who are caught up in the law, it is interesting to see how certain fact circumstances play themselves out when it comes time for a court to make a decision. All cases are summaries of real judicial rulings but some complexities of the appellate process have been omitted for easier reading. The full names of the participants are of course not used for obvious reasons and it should be clearly understood that although the decisions of our court system represent sound reasoning under the prevailing law based upon the situation from which the appeal itself arose -- it must not be assumed that an identical ruling would occur in a different factual context and therefore anyone having a legal problem should consult with an attorney -- not the legal trivia section of this website.
A reputation for positive results.
This web site is for general information purposes only and nothing on it should be construed as constituting formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship between Attorney Schultz and any viewer.​