Brett Stuff
Judging the Judges
Term Year: 2018

Tyson Timbs, Petitioner v. Indiana

Summary Analysis

DATE: 2019-02-20
DOCKET: 17-1091
NAME: Tyson Timbs, Petitioner v. Indiana

   AUTHOR: Ginsburg
   JOINING: Roberts, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh
   GOOD: Yes

OPINION: Concurring
   AUTHOR: Gorsuch
   JOINING: None
   GOOD: No

OPINION: Concurring
   AUTHOR: Thomas
   JOINING: None
   GOOD: Yes

Case Commentary

The Supreme Court held that confiscating a $42,000 Vehicle to pay a $10,000 Fine was Excessive.

I agree.

Gorsuch filed a 1 page brief for technical reasons. But Thomas said it better. So, Gorsuch should have joined with Thomas. Thus, I disagree with Gorsuch.

Thomas' arguments are too technical for me to care. I simply believe that all Americans are (or at least, should be) protected from Cruel & Unusual Punishments, which to my mind would include Excessive Fines. Thomas explains why this is so (i.e. reasons the case) in a different way from The Court. But such nuances matter little to me. All the same, I will give him an 'A' for effort and agree with him, as well.

It's a rather boring case. And at this point, I only have two things to discuss.

First, the State of Indiana hired a Private Law Firm to go after Mr Timbs. This seems sort of mercenary. Of course, Private Contractors are used by the Government all the time. So, don't ask why Hiring a Private Gun rankles me. But it does.

Second, I believe most Bail, Fines, Traffic Violations, and Parking Tickets are excessive. This is actually where Thomas' Opinion shines, as he traces the evolution of The People's protection against Excessive Fines all the way back to the Magna Carta. The original principle being that any Fine should not be so great as to change a person's station in life. And taking away a person's car, certainly changes their ability to navigate society. Now, this is not Thomas' position. Nor is it mine. But I don't think a Speeding Ticket should cost a week's wages... more like $20.

My (personal) position would be more... um, calibrated. I don't care about Jaywalking or Speeding, so the fine would be low... very low. But something like Bank Fraud, well, the sky is the limit; and I am happy to reduce those folks to ashes.

As a more concrete example, in some recent case (involving Computer Ransom Ware), the person was sentenced to something like 5 Years in Prison for having laundered (i.e. extorted) millions. He'd likely get just as much for stealing a single car. There is no parity, there. More importantly, along with any Jail Time, I have no problem seizing ALL of Mr Hackers assets, just as a matter of course.

Every. Last. Penny.

Of course, what I really want to happen is that Mr Hacker is caught on his first attempt. And so, his take is $0. And at that point, a year's probation sounds pretty reasonable, to me.

Judging the Judges

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If one catches every criminal every time, the fine need not be great.

And if one is not catching every criminal every time (certainly if this failure comes from a lack of effort), it is clear the crime is not regarded as important.

So why pretend that it is when the criminal is finally caught?

© copyright 2019 Brett Paufler
A Personal Opinion/Editorial