Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. CV-90-4597-IH. Irving Hill, District Judge, Presiding. Original Opinion Reported at:,
Before: John T. Noonan, Jr., Ferdinand F. Fernandez and Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Noonan.
AMENDED OPINION AND ORDER
The United States sought the forfeiture of $30,440 in United States currency. It was opposed by claimant Jeremiah Hoskins. After trial the district court gave judgment for the United States.
Hoskins appeals. We affirm the judgment of the district court.
On May 8, 1990 Hoskins was hit in the head and shot at his own home. He called the paramedics and the Inglewood police were also notified. Without a search warrant the police searched the house and found what they believed to be cocaine in a package lying on top of the refrigerator. The package was marked "Ruby" and wrapped in a way characteristic in packaging kilos of cocaine. The top had been split open. There was a knife on the kitchen floor that the police believed had been used to open the package. There was a pool of blood near the knife. In the bedroom of the house the police found $7,500 in a dresser drawer and $22,940 on a shelf in the closet.
The United States moved to forfeit the cash alleging that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the cash had been used to buy drugs or would be used to buy drugs.
At the first hearing of the case, on September 23, 1991, the district court inquired of counsel if he would raise the Fourth Amendment in regard to the search. The court noted that in filing his exhibit list and witness list and contention memo with points and authorities counsel had not said a word about the Fourth Amendment. Counsel observed that he had never before had a forfeiture case in the federal court. The court told him that if he was going to argue the Fourth Amendment it should be fully briefed in the contention memo and that at present it wasn't. At the same time the court warned him that a frivolous Fourth Amendment claim would be subject to sanctions. Counsel said he would confer with his client. After doing so in the hall, counsel announced that he would go to trial on the innocence of the claimant.
The second hearing was held December 16, 1991 and counsel was again asked if he was going to contest the lawfulness of the search. He stated that he was not.
On January 14, 1992 a one-day trial was held. The government produced a police officer who had seen the package that apparently contained cocaine. It was now established that it was not cocaine but something that looked like the drug. It was the government's argument that based on the circumstantial evidence it could be inferred that Hoskins was attempting to sell "bunk" cocaine; that the knife on the kitchen floor had been used to open the package; that Hoskins' customer had detected the fraud and had shot him. The cash found in the house the government argued must be from drug transactions of Hoskins.
For his part Hoskins testified that he was in the cement finishing business but liked to gamble at the race track and at cards. Since 1985 he had reported his occupation as a gambler to the federal tax authorities. His story was that on May 8, 1990 he had met a fellow at the track whose last name he never knew, whom he invited home and started playing a card game called cotch with money. When the man lost he shot Hoskins. The cash in his bedroom he said came from his gambling and was kept there because he liked to bet. He declared that he had never ...