The Supreme Court yesterday heard arguments in the case of Kaley v. United States, a case concerning pretrial restraint of assets that prevented the Defendants from hiring counsel of their choice. I previously discussed the issues in the case here and here.
As a quick recap, the Kaleys were under federal investigation. They denied they had done anything wrong, so they went looking for a great federal criminal defense lawyer. As we know, specialists are expensive, and lengthy white collar federal criminal cases chew up lots of time, energy, and money. The Kaleys therefore borrowed $500,000, and stuck it into the bank to fund the fight for their lives. The feds got an indictment, but also wanted to “forfeit” all of the Kaleys’ assets, including the half-million sitting in the bank. Prosecutors got an order from the judge freezing the money in the bank, and this happened right after the indictment was issued, meaning the Kaleys do not have access to these funds to defend themselves at trial. The issue before the Supreme Court is whether they at least have a right to a hearing before the trial in order to challenge the freezing of the assets, or whether the mere fact that a grand jury issued an indictment based on probable cause is sufficient to justify holding their money.