Dusenbery v. United States Case Brief

Facts of the Case

FBI officers seized property and cash pursuant to a search warrant after petitioner inmate was arrested. While the petitioner was incarcerated, the FBI sent letters of its intention to forfeit the cash by certified mail addressed to the petitioner care of the correctional institution. The FBI received no response within the time allotted. Nearly five years later, petitioner filed his motion seeking the return of the items. The district court granted summary judgment to respondent United States, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted the inmate’s petition for writ of certiorari to the appellate court to consider the adequacy of the FBI’s notice of its intended forfeiture.




“Yes. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that the FBI’s notice of the cash forfeiture satisfied due process. The Court reasoned that the means employed to provide notice to the prisoner were reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise the prisoner of the forfeiture. The prisoner did not actually have to receive the notice, noted Chief Justice Rehnquist. “The Government could, for example, have allowed [Dusenbery] to make an escorted visit to the post office himself in order to sign for his letter. But the Due Process Clause does not require such heroic efforts by the Government