Here is the copy of a civil rights lawsuit we filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia late last week. It has now been assigned to Judge Goodwin in Charleston, WV. The case comes out of Fayette County, West Virginia, and involves a criminal investigation and prosecution gone awry.
My client, Keith Sizemore, had his home searched, via a SWAT team style raid, while he and his 16 year old son were home. In the subsequent federal prosecution, the federal judge presiding over the case ended up suppressing evidence obtained during the search, and issuing an order finding that members of the Drug Task Force had lied to the Magistrate Court of Fayette County in order to obtain the search warrant for Mr. Sizemore’s residence. It’s really an astonishing order:
The order shines the light on what has become a common scenario: a drug raid with some sort of seizure of illegal drugs, and then there is a civil forfeiture proceeding in WV State Court, in which the owner of the items has all the items confiscated under color of law. In this case, our lawsuit alleges that the state civil forfeiture machine had already seized and became the new owner of Mr. Sizemore’s home and 2017 pickup truck, before the criminal indictment was even served on him. However, interestingly, the criminal prosecution exploded with the suppression order finding that the task force members lied to obtain the warrant.
I wonder what will happen? We shall see…..