Unpublished Disposition, 928 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1987)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 928 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1987) UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,v.ONE 1984 PONTIAC FIREBIRD, etc., Defendant,andMartin Allen Johnson, Claimant/Appellant

No. 90-35331.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Submitted Jan. 11, 1991.* Decided March 13, 1991.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, No. CV-88-681-HJF; Helen J. Frye, District Judge, Presiding.

D. Or.


Before JAMES R. BROWNING, CANBY and TROTT, Circuit Judges.


On April 9, 1987, police officers seized a 1984 Pontiac from the residence of Phillip Daniel Nelson. Approximately sixteen months later, the United States instituted forfeiture proceedings under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a) (4), alleging the Pontiac had been used for the transportation of illegal drugs. Only Johnson asserted an ownership interest in the Pontiac. Johnson claimed innocent ownership status under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a) (4) (C), asserting he had loaned the Pontiac to Nelson for the purpose of selling the car on a consignment basis and had no knowledge of Nelson's illegal use of the car. The district court granted the government's motion for summary judgment, finding Johnson had failed to establish an ownership interest in the Pontiac. We affirm.

The government argued, and the district court ruled, Johnson had transfered his title to the Pontiac to Nelson. In support of this position, the government produced an Oregon Certificate of Title listing Johnson as the owner and Nelson as the holder of a security interest. Johnson's signature appears on the Certificate of Title on a line after the boldface words "SIGN HERE WHEN VEHICLE IS SOLD." Johnson produced no evidence whatsoever in opposition. Johnson offered to testify he had merely loaned the car to Nelson, but this unsworn statement was not evidence. On the record before it, the district court properly concluded Johnson had no ownership interest in the car.

Johnson claims his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the government's seizure of the Pontiac and his due process rights were violated by the government's sixteen month delay in commencing forfeiture proceedings. Since Johnson failed to establish any ownership interest in the Pontiac, he has no standing to raise these claims. See City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 101 (1983) (requiring a personal stake in the outcome to bring a claim); Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 148 (1978) (requiring an ownership interest, possessory interest, or some other expectation of privacy in order to bring a Fourth Amendment challenge).

Johnson claims he was entitled to the return of the Pontiac under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(e). Once a civil forfeiture proceeding is commenced, however, a Rule 41(e) motion for the return of property will not be entertained. United States v. United States Currency, $83,310.78, 851 F.2d 1231, 1233 (9th Cir. 1988). Rule 41(e) does not apply to civil forfeiture proceedings. Id.; Fed. R. Crim. P. 54(b) (5).

Johnson's claim that he was entitled to appointed counsel under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A is meritless. This section applies only to criminal cases.



The panel unanimously finds this case suitable for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. App. P. 34(a); Circuit Rule 34-4


This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by 9th Cir.R. 36-3