Forbidden to randomly seize unattended homeless belongings, city asks SCOTUS to overturn ruling

Terry Carter (ABA Journal) | February 28, 2013

The city of Los Angeles is expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court today to overturn an injunction preventing the removal and destruction of personal property left unattended on sidewalks by the homeless, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction last September, saying the city could seize such property only if it has been clearly abandoned, not just temporarily left unattended, or poses an immediate health or safety threat or might be needed as evidence of a crime.

Many cities around the country are struggling with ever-increasing numbers of homeless. If the high court takes the case, any ruling likely will be far-reaching.

Los Angeles’ so-called skid row, actually the Central City East section of downtown, has the city’s heaviest concentration of homeless residents. A recent outbreak of tuberculosis prompted scientists from the Centers for Disease Control to visit the city, and Los Angeles officials have advised police patrolling skid row to wear masks. the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog reported.

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Photo credit: Bear Guerra/KPCC

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