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Fourth Amendment Violation – Sale of Seized Property

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Jevarreo Kelley-Lomax v. City of Chicago, Illinois

Case No.: 21-2891

Officials: EASTERBROOK, KIRSCH, and JACKSON-AKIWUMI, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Fourth Amendment Violation – Sale of Seized Property

A person arrested in Chicago can take some property into jail but must surrender other property, including cell phones. Chicago offers the detainee 30 days to reclaim the property in person (if released before then) or by proxy. Kelley-Lomax wants another look at the subject. After he was arrested, he remained in custody for more than 30 days and did not find anyone willing to retrieve his property. The City disposed of a cell phone and a wallet. Citing Conyers, the district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted.

Physical items seized from arrested persons make claims on limited space, and for many detainees the costs of arranging a sale in order to free up space would exceed the value of the items in inventory. But cell phones and jewelry often have substantial market value. When the governmental interest is limited to rationing available storage, perhaps the option of sale for detainees’ accounts must be considered. See also United States v. Miller, 588 F.3d 418 (7th Cir. 2009) (seized firearms that have not been forfeited may be sold for owner’s account but must not be destroyed if they have value net of expenses for custody and sale). Conyers did not make an argument along these lines, and neither did Kelley-Lomax.


Decided 9/28/22

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