Vanderbilt Law Review


Brynn Applebaum

First Page



The Founding Fathers thought the jury-trial right was so fundamental to our system of justice that they included it in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The right to trial by jury serves to protect criminal defendants against government overreaching by ensuring that they will be judged by their fellow citizens.' And as a whole, our system of justice and our citizenry have remained committed to the jury trial. But since the Founding, the Supreme Court has narrowed the application of the Sixth Amendment's guaranty.

Two decades ago, the Supreme Court decided in Libretti v. United States that there is no constitutional right to a "jury verdict on forfeitability" in a criminal proceeding. Rather, the Court held that the right to a jury trial in forfeiture proceedings was purely statutory and thus entirely up to the legislature to grant or deny. Because it considered criminal forfeiture to be part of the sentence imposed on a person found guilty of a crime, the Court reasoned that the facts that link an asset to a crime and make it subject to seizure, like other sentencing factors, need not be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Relying on subsequent cases, scholars have cast L

Included in

Criminal Law Commons