Gov. Mary Fallin has signed Senate Bill 1113, which would allow the recovery of attorney fees by those who have unjustly had their assets seized through the civil asset forfeiture process. The measure was authored by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond.
"This is a positive step in reforming civil asset forfeiture, as it will encourage those who have had their assets unjustly taken to fight back," Holt said.
Holt noted that some individuals who felt their assets were unjustly seized may not have fought to have them returned because they could not afford to hire a lawyer. With the passage of this reform enabling the recovery of attorney fees, some lawyers may look at the merits of a particular case and be more willing to take such individuals on as clients.
Grau applauded the governor for signing SB 1113 into law.
“I want to thank Governor Fallin for supporting this important legislation, which helps protect the civil and private property rights of Oklahomans,” Grau said.
Civil asset forfeiture has been a topic of much conversation over the past year following the introduction of reform proposals by Senator Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City. Just this week, The Washington Post featured a case of a Christian band having $53,000 seized in Muskogee County without clear evidence of wrongdoing. The money was returned as soon as the article was published.
The new law will go into effect on November 1.