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http://nycourts.law.com/CourtDocumentViewer.asp?view=Document&docID=46378 Justice Burke A MAN SOUGHT the return his car, seized under the county’s civil forfeiture law after his sister, who lacked permission to use the car, was arrested, for the third time, on drunken-driving charges. A police captain presided over a post-seizure hearing. A provision of the law calls for the police commissioner, or his designee, to preside over a post-seizure hearing. The court ordered the car’s return to defendant, ruling that the county’s forfeiture law unconstitutionally violated the due process rights of innocent owners. Referring to the Court of Appeals’ decision in County of Nassau v. Canavan, the court ruled that neither the police commissioner nor his designee qualify as a “neutral magistrate” before whom a post-seizure retention hearing must be held. Additionally, a court must serve as the neutral magistrate because a provision of the county law relieves the court from ordering forfeiture when the court determines, in its discretion, that to order forfeiture is not in the interests of justice.

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