Civil forfeiture to be discussed at Constitution Day event


On Friday, Sept. 15, Clark Neily, vice president of criminal justice of the Cato Institute, will join a panel discussion at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus to discuss the constitutionality of civil forfeiture.The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Joining Neily is Daniel Lemisch, the acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren will make closing remarks.

Earlier this year, the federal government strengthened the controversial process of civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to take assets from persons suspected of criminal activity without issuing criminal charges against the asset owners. The event is hosted by the WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills chapter of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies and is free and open to the public. WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills is producing the event as part of the law school’s annual Constitution Day activities, which are held at each of the law school’s four campuses.

Neily is the vice present for criminal justice at the Cato Institute. He is a well-known litigator and public speaker and during his career has challenged the government for unconstitutional incursions on the rights of individuals. He leads Cato’s efforts on criminal justice issues and related topics. Originally from Texas, Neily spent four years in the trial department of the Dallas law firm Thompson and Knight before joining the Institute for Justice. He also clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, District of Columbia.

Lemisch is the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Lemisch previously served as the first assistant, chief of the criminal division and was a deputy chief of the controlled substance unit. He also provides international assistance on behalf of the Department of Justice on trial advocacy, public corruption and criminal procedure code reform. During his career as a federal prosecutor, Lemisch has also handled cases involving health care fraud and violent crimes. Before joining the Department of Justice, Lemisch was a trial lawyer and chief of appeals at the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office in Pontiac.

Warren was appointed to the Oakland County Circuit Court in December 2002 by then Governor John Engler, and was elected into office in 2004, 2006 and 2012. He was previously a Michigan Supreme Court judicial clerk; practicing attorney with experience in appellate work and litigation corporations, securities, mergers and education; the executive director and counsel for the New Common School Foundation, and member of the state board of education 1999-2002. He is a board member of several nonprofit education-related organizations, and is the co-creator of Patriot Week.

The Constitution Day event will take place Friday, Sept. 15, from noon to 2 p.m. in room 145 of WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus, 2630 Featherstone Road. Individuals interested in attending should email