We've got a seizure on a nice vehicle. The driver/owner/defendant had pretty much a drug store in the vehicle. He gave a confession. But he died after being served with the seizure petition and after he filed an answer but before the forfeiture was completed and before he was convicted of the underlying criminal offenses. The probate lawyer for the estate is apparently wanting to spend some estate assets by way of attorney's fees and is "threatening" that this matter must now be litigated in probate court in a neighboring county. Has anyone handled something of this nature? My civil litigation days were decades ago and my probate court days never even happened. Thanks. (I'm posting this simultaneously on the criminal and civil forums)
I seem to recall reading that the estate of Enron crook Kenneth Lay was immune to civil punitives because his criminal conviction was on appeal at the time of his death.
I wonder if asset forfeiture is compensatory or punitive or if this is a totally bad analogy.
Although you run a severe risk of your eyes melting from their sockets, take a look at Sections 5A and 5B of the Texas Probate Code.
As the forfeiture is an "in rem" proceeding, my initial gut feeling would be that the vehicle (if truly owned by dead crook) would be incident to or appurtenant to the estate.
Thanks for the flashback to Crump's 1st year civil procedure.
Thanks for not calling me with that question.
I think I'll go have a shot of tequila now.
Email me -- I believe we had a similar probate court/forfeiture question and I'll put you in touch with the lawyer who handled it.
I say go with a suggestion of death and ask for a scire facias ordering the estate's administrator(or other person) to appear and defend the suit on behalf of crook.
I handled one of these maybe five or six years ago by filing a suggestion of death, and my recollection is that everything worked out okay on it. Admittedly, it wasn't a contested probate court mess type of deal--our respondent got killed by another drug dealer before we could get him served, and I think his mother either defaulted or worked something out with me. Good luck.
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