Reviving the Excessive Fines Clause

  title={Reviving the Excessive Fines Clause},
  author={Beth A. Colgan},
  journal={Criminology eJournal},
Millions of American adults and children struggle with debt stemming from economic sanctions issued by the criminal and juvenile courts. For those unable to pay, the consequences — including incarceration, exclusion from public benefits, and persistent poverty — can be draconian and perpetual. The Supreme Court has nevertheless concluded that many of these concerns lie outside the scope of the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. In interpreting the Clause, the Court relied upon a limited… 
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United States V. _____
FACTS An officer in Midvale, Utah was doing some paperwork in his patrol car when he was approached by man, later identified as Nitokalisi Fonua (hereinafter, “Nick”). Nick “looked suspicious,”
1873) (discussing the English Bill of Rights' prohibition against excessive fines as a reaction to the abuses of the Stuart Kings
1789 Pa. Laws 688-90; 1785 R.I. Pub. Acts 11; 1781 R
  • I. Pub. Acts
Laws 446-47 (restoring property to wife of defendant convicted of treason)
    Laws 776-77 (returning portion of estate to adult child; returning portion of estate to son-in-law)
      Laws 6 (1778) (allowing for maintenance of defendant's wife and children)
      • Del
      1940) (ordering sheriff to return a writ or else "shall be Amerced as the Cort shall thinke fit
        Acts 113; 1791 N.H. Laws 271; 1789 N.J. Laws 522; 1788 N.Y. Laws 805-07; 1789 N.C. Sess. Laws 471; 1788 Pa. Laws 640-41; 1785 R.I. Pub. Laws 5; 1791 S.C. Acts 12-13
        • Vt. Acts & Resolves
        The Court has recognized that payments to qui tam relators might fit within the scope of Excessive Fines Clause protection. See Browning-Ferris v. Kelco, 492
        • 1989
        Acts 84-85; see also 1766 Md. Laws ii (eliminating imposition of court costs where defendant is a slave in order to promote the