This toolkit is an introduction to civil asset forfeiture, and it is written specifically for anyone whose property has recently been taken by law enforcement. This toolkit is intended to help you understand which laws allowed your property to be seized, what happens throughout the legal process, and what you can do to try to get your property back. This toolkit is also meant to help anyone who is interested in better understanding civil asset forfeiture, even if it has never happened to you. It may even help you prevent your assets from being forfeited in the future.
In the Supreme Court of Texas. On Petition for Review from the Fourth Court of Appeals, San Antonio, Texas: Cause No. 04-15-00469-CV. Amicus Curiae’s Brief of Texas Appleseed in Support of Petitioners. Hiawatha Henry, Addie Harris, Montray Norris and Roosevelt Coleman, Jr., on behalf of themselves and for all other similarly situated (Petitioners) v. Cash Biz, LP, Cash Zone, LLC D/B/A Cash Biz and Redwood Financials, LLC (Appellees). Brief Excerpt: Texas Appleseed supports Petitioners before this Court because this dispute illustrates how payday, auto title, and other small-dollar loan arrangers and lenders, like Respondents, exploit the public’s legal system for private, commercial gains to the detriment and harm of all Texans. After using the public’s criminal justice system to help collect private, civil debts from borrowers, these loan arrangers and lenders seek to deprive disadvantaged borrowers of the recourse afforded by public civil courts by compelling costly, individual arbitration, and by preventing these borrowers from banding together to litigate common complaints against them. Such practices enable commercial lenders and loan arrangers to recover private debts using the public resources supported by tax dollars, and then, when the legality of their collection practices is challenged, shield their wrongful conduct from public scrutiny and themselves from liability by demanding that the courts refer the disputes to private, cost-prohibitive arbitrations.
This toolkit – for financial caregivers in Texas who manage money or property for those unable to do so themselves – consists of five guides in English and Spanish at Each of the guides is tailored to the needs of different fiduciary/supporter capacities, including people who are: agents under a power of attorney, appointed by a court to be guardians or conservators, named as trustees under revocable living trusts, appointed by a government agency to manage income benefits, and acting as a supporter under a supported decision-making agreement.
Joint report with Texas Fair Defense Project. For low-income Texans, a ticket for a minor offense like speeding, jaywalking, or having a broken headlight can lead to devastating consequences for the individual, as well as that person’s family and community. If someone is unable to pay a ticket right away, the cost compounds over time, often resulting in more tickets, fines and fees. Failing to pay or to appear in court can lead to an arrest warrant and jail time. Low-income Texans are being set up to fail by the way fines and fees are handled, and they are often driven deeper into poverty. The United States Supreme Court has held that incarcerating somebody because of unpaid fines or fees without a hearing to determine if they are actually able to pay the fines and fees violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment. Texas state statute also makes clear that a person cannot be jailed for unpaid fines when the nonpayment was due to indigence.
In justice courts, judges are not necessarily lawyers, and the rules of evidence may not apply. Most debt collectors have lawyers representing them; defendants in debt claim cases often do not have the benefit of a lawyer. Many Texans fall into a “justice gap” where they are not poor enough to qualify for free legal services, but also cannot afford to pay for legal services on their own. Because more and more Texans are trapped in this situation, many litigants are left arguing their cases on their own or “pro se,” without the help of a skilled advocate. Key Findings: 1: Court website information is more helpful to plaintiffs than to defendants. 2: Most courts provide plaintiffs with forms to file debt claim cases. 3: No court provided defendants with answer forms specific to debt claim cases. 4: Links to applicable rules of civil procedure are available on most, but not all court websites.


Criminal Discovery
Fair Defense Act
Immigrant Banking
Immigrant Children & Families
International Remittances
Mental Health
Protecting Seniors from Financial Abuse
Bail Reform & Pretrial Justice
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Coerced Debt
Debt Collection
Disaster Recovery & Fair Housing
Education Justice
Fines & Fees
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Homeless Youth
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Payday & Auto Title Lending Reform
Amicus briefs