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Rulli testifies on civil forfeiture in Pennsylvania

October 21, 2015

On October 20, Professor Louis Rulli, Director of the Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies at Penn Law, testified in front of the Pennsylvania State Senate’s Judiciary Committee on the practice of civil forfeiture. Rulli has long been a critic of the practice, and he and his students in the clinics have represented clients whose assets were seized even though they had not committed a crime.

Rulli’s testimony was cited in a number of news outlets throughout the state:

  • ‘”It’s being unleashed against ordinary citizens,” said Louis Rulli.”’ —Philadelphia Inquirer
  • “University of Pennsylvania law professor Louis Rulli detailed some of the excesses of what’s known as civil forfeiture law. Rulli told the state Senate Judiciary Committee a Penn Law Clinic client’s young child had her piggy bank seized by police investigating the alleged wrongdoing of a third person. ‘Her daughter had a birthday party,’ Rulli said. ‘(She) had $91 in the piggy bank.’” —CBS Philly
  • “In the 2012-13 fiscal year, Philadelphia led the state in forfeitures, with $3.45 million in cash, 38 real estate properties and 169 vehicles forfeited, according to data submitted by Louis Rulli, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • “‘This was a law intended to go after kingpins, to go after cartels and criminal enterprises,’ [Rulli] said.” —
  • “The law unfairly places the burden of proof on property owners, Rulli said. In criminal law, someone is innocent until the government proves them guilty. However, in civil asset forfeiture cases, prosecutors try to show a connection between the property and a crime and then it’s up to the property owners to prove prosecutors wrong.” —The Morning Call

Watch Rulli’s full testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee.

Louis Rulli Testimony at SB 869 Proposed Reforms to the Civil System of Asset Forfeiture in PA