in Re Forfeiture of $2,036

STATE OF MICHIGAN COURT OF APPEALS In re FORFEITURE of $2,036. PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, UNPUBLISHED April 24, 2018 Plaintiff-Appellant, v No. 337626 Jackson Circuit Court $2,036, LC No. 14-003104-CF Defendant, and DANIEL TREVINO, Claimant-Appellee. Before: MURPHY, P.J., and JANSEN and SWARTZLE, JJ. PER CURIAM. In this civil forfeiture action, the prosecutor appeals the trial court’s order granting, on reconsideration, claimant’s motion to suppress the subject of the forfeiture, $2,036, as well as claimant’s attendant motion for a directed verdict. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with our Supreme Court’s decision in In re Forfeiture of $180,975, 478 Mich 444; 734 NW2d 489 (2007). Law enforcement encountered claimant throwing bags of trash into a garbage receptacle located in a parking lot, and there was a parked vehicle nearby, which police connected to claimant, with a female sitting in the driver’s seat. The police eventually discovered marijuana and alleged drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, and $2,036 was found on claimant’s person as part of a patdown search. The prosecution commenced a civil forfeiture action relative to the cash, alleging that the money was found in close proximity to the marijuana and constituted proceeds from narcotics trafficking. The claimant filed a motion to suppress the money, along with other evidence, including the marijuana, asserting a violation of the Fourth Amendment. One of the issues concerning the search and seizure was whether claimant had consented to the patdown search. The trial court denied the motion following an evidentiary hearing. -1- A bench trial commenced on the civil forfeiture action, and after the prosecution had presented its case, claimant requested and received a stay because of a federal criminal investigation. Subsequently, the forfeiture trial was scheduled to resume and claimant filed a motion for reconsideration with respect to the denial of the motion to suppress. At the beginning of the resumed trial, the court decided to grant claimant’s motion for reconsideration, suppressed the $2,036, and granted claimant’s oral motion for a directed verdict. The trial court now determined that, given claimant’s history of not cooperating with the police, it was unlikely that claimant would have consented to the patdown search or allow the officer to pull the money from claimant’s pocket. The court also changed its view regarding the officer’s testimony on consent, now questioning whether the officer would have remembered the incident with clarity.1 As soon as the trial court ruled that it was suppressing the $2,036, the court stated in reference to claimant, “So, he’s got his money back.” Claimant then moved for a directed verdict,2 which the trial court granted without hesitation or providing any reasoning and without waiting to hear from the prosecutor. Although claimant’s motion to suppress and the motion for reconsideration encompassed more than just the cash,3 it is beyond reasonable dispute that the court’s ruling expressed from the bench only pertained to the cash. 4 We can reach no other conclusion but that the trial court believed that the suppression or exclusion of ...

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