Round 1 has gone to the Federal Government in their property forfeiture case against the Motel Caswell.
But lawyers representing the motel and its owner, Russ Caswell, say the fight is a long way from over.
According to a press release issued last week by The Institute for Justice, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein, denied a motion by Caswell that the government's case be dismissed on procedural and Constitutional grounds.
As a result, the case will move forward to trial in U.S. District Court, some time later this year.
"Obviously, I'm very disappointed. We would have liked to have this whole thing taken care of," said Russ Caswell. "But it may be a blessing in disguise. It will give us more of a chance to get our side of things out there and show just how ridiculous this whole thing is."
Two years ago, under Federal Civil Forfeiture Laws, the U.S. Department of Justice began forfeiture proceedings against Caswell and his motel. In its complaint, the government alleges a pattern of ongoing drug trafficking and other illegal activities by guests at the motel and that Caswell has not done enough to try and stop such activities.
Last year, the case caught the attention of The Institute For Justice, a non-profit law firm that specializes in battling the U.S. Government in the courtroom, if it believes the government has overstepped its bounds. The group agreed to defend Caswell for free.
"The Caswells are innocent of any wrongdoing and for 30 years have done their best to maintain a crime-free and safe budget motel," said Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, in the press release. "This case shows all that is wrong with civil forfeiture and we look forward to demonstrating that at trial."
Russ Caswell was not immediately available for comment on the initial court ruling.