U.S. Supreme Court

Defendants seeking to use frozen assets to pay lawyers win Supreme Court review

A couple accused of conspiring to sell stolen prescription medical devices on the black market has won a U.S. Supreme Court review in their effort to use frozen funds to pay their lawyers.

Pharmaceutical sales representative Kerri Kaley and her husband, Brian Kaley, contend they are entitled to a pretrial hearing on access to the funds under the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process and the Sixth Amendment’s right to assistance of counsel, according to the cert petition (PDF).

In a pair of cases decided in 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the federal law that allows for the forfeiture of tainted funds used to pay for a defense lawyer. In a footnote, the court left open the question of whether the due process clause requires a hearing before a pretrial order freezing the funds can be imposed. Since then, a circuit split on the issue “has become further entrenched,” the cert petition says.

The case is Kaley v. United States. SCOTUSblog and Reuters have coverage.

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