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November 21, 2006



Considering the time and money spent on the case, and the order that no costs be awarded, it's going to be a hollow victory if he wins. At least he gets a chance. A Massachusetts appeals court ruled last year that police can steal property from people they arrest, thanks to the "detention of goods" exception to the state tort claims act. _Vining vs. Commonwealth_, 63 Mass. App. Ct. 690 (2005).


I think this is a bit broader, because the District Court didn’t seem to take his motion seriously. Since he is pro se, it only costs him his time, which he has plenty of… in jail.

There is considerable CTA caselaw that holds that even Federal Sovereign Immunity doesn’t apply to “return of property”-type lawsuits, because it seeks return of something specific (i.e. a “rem”) that the state never had title to in the first place. The case you cite deals with what appears to be an action for damages (or perhaps conversion), where the state never acknowledged that they were actually taken. Maybe if the state had given him a receipt, life would be different.

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