WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJON News) - The last case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court this year will come from Minnesota.

Geraldine Tyler, a 93-year-old from Hennepin County, is suing the county for violations of the Fifth and Eighth Amendments.

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Court documents state Hennepin County seized Tyler’s condominium to satisfy a $15,000 property tax debt. The county sold the home for $40,000, paid the property tax bill, and kept the remaining balance in accordance with the state’s forfeiture statute.

Minnesota is one of a dozen states that seizes the entire property and does not require any overage to be paid back to the property owner.

Tyler’s case claims the policy of states to seize property and claim all proceeds to satisfy a smaller debt violates the Eighth Amendment and the ‘Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The “Taking Clause” is the last sentence of the Amendment.

Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The county claims Tyler is a rare victim of this problem. In addition, the county argues the Constitution presents no impediment to taking the entire property value because she was guilty of the non-criminal offense of failing to timely pay a tax debt.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, but this court has been very slow in returning verdicts. This case may not be resolved until later this summer.



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