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United States v. One Remington Arms Co., Inc.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 3, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ONE REMINGTON ARMS COMPANY, INC., MODEL 7400 RIFLE .270 WIN CALIBER, BEARING SERIAL NUMBER 8556430; et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, CHIEF JUDGE

I. Introduction

Now before the Court is pro se litigant, Angela Coleman’s motion for property to be returned which the Court construes as a motion to set aside default judgment regarding the civil forfeiture of several firearms. (Doc. 13). The United States of America filed a response (Doc. 15). Based upon the pleadings, the applicable law and the following, the Court DENIES the motion to set aside default judgment.

II. Background

On August 17, 2011, the Government filed a complaint seeking the forfeiture of firearms which were in the possession of Joe Coleman, who committed the offense of possessing the firearms while unlawfully using controlled substances (Doc 15). The declaration attached to the complaint stated that Joe Coleman had access to the firearms but that they belonged to his wife, Angela Coleman (Doc. 15).

Notice of the forfeiture was sent by regular and certified mail directly to Joe and Angela Coleman on September 30, 2011 (Doc. 15). The notice specified that anyone receiving the direct notice that wanted to contest the forfeiture had to file a claim under penalty of perjury by November 4, 2011 (Doc. 15).

On November 7, 2011, the United States Attorney’s Office received a letter dated November 3, 2011, from Angela Coleman, responding to the notice she received via direct mail (Document 15; Document 15-1).

On November 14, 2011, Michael Thompson, an Assistant United States Attorney, sent a letter in response to Angela Coleman’s communication advising her that she had to file a claim, under oath, with the Court and recommended that she consult with an attorney (Doc. 15). Mr. Thompson further informed Mrs. Coleman that he would wait an additional fifteen days from the date of the letter to afford Mrs. Coleman the opportunity to file a claim (Doc. 15, p. 3).[1]

Mrs. Coleman did not file a claim until June 7, 2013 (Doc. 13).

In late 2012, Mr. Coleman telephoned Carmalee Korte, Mr. Thompson’s assistant, and asked for Mr. Thompson to call him back (Doc. 15, p. 3). Instead of contacting Mr. Coleman directly, Mr. Thompson sent an email communication on December 9, 2012, to attorney Clifton Kent Verhines, [2] requesting Mr. Verhines to advise Mr. Thompson if he could speak directly to Mr. Coleman or if he should communicate to Mr. Coleman only through his attorney (Doc. 15, p. 3; Doc. 15-3). Mr. Thompson never received a response from Mr. Verhines (Doc. 15, p. 3).

Subsequently, Mr. Thompson was informed that Mr. Coleman was actually being represented by attorney James L. Karraker (Doc. 15). On December 19, 2012, Mr. Thompson emailed Mr. Karraker regarding whether or not Mr. Thompson should speak directly with Mr. Coleman (Doc. 15). Mr. Thompson never received a response from Mr. Karraker (Doc. 15).

On December 21, 2012, Mr. Thompson filed a report with the Court (Doc. 5). On May 9, 2013, the Government moved for judgment and decree for forfeiture (Doc. 10). Thereafter, the Court granted the judgment and decree of forfeiture on May 10, 2013 (Doc. 12).

Shortly after the Judgment and Decree for forfeiture had been entered, Mrs. Coleman contacted Mr. Thompson and she indicated that Mr. Coleman had been in contact with Mr. Coleman’s attorney (Doc. 15). Mr. Thompson advised Mrs. Coleman that he could not communicate with her while she was represented by counsel unless Mr. Thompson had her counsel’s consent (Doc. 15). Mr. Thompson received no further contact from Mr. or Mrs. ...


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