United States v. One Clipper Bow Ketch NISKU

548 F.2d 8 (1977)

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United States v. One Clipper Bow Ketch NISKU

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
548 F.2d 8 (1977)

Facts

Ralph Washington (defendant) lived in Arizona and purchased a sailboat, the NISKU, in December 1973 for a lengthy sailing trip scheduled to begin in the spring of 1974. Because Washington had no sailing experience, and the NISKU was located in Massachusetts, Washington hired Jose Giner to prepare the NISKU for the trip and then captain the NISKU while teaching Washington to sail during the trip. Washington rarely visited the NISKU between December 1973 and May 1974. In the morning on the first day of the trip, Washington sailed the NISKU aground off the coast of Massachusetts. The harbormaster and a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent visited the ship to help. The DEA agent claimed that he saw the NISKU’s occupants consuming marijuana at that time. Later that evening, the changing tide freed the NISKU to return to the harbor. The next morning, DEA agents executed a search warrant on the NISKU and found marijuana near where Giner slept. Washington, Giner, and the others onboard the NISKU were arrested for possessing a controlled substance, and the government seized the NISKU pursuant to the federal forfeiture statutes. The government dropped the charges against Washington but pursued forfeiture of the NISKU. The district court found that Washington knew about the marijuana onboard the NISKU, and therefore, the court ordered forfeiture of the NISKU. Washington appealed, arguing that the federal forfeiture statutes were intended to combat drug trafficking and, therefore, must not apply when drugs for personal use are found on a vessel.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gignoux, J.)

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