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Exception for Forfeiture Cases

The common law recognized a remedy in rem in cases of forfeiture.  Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that it is a common law remedy.  Therefore, remedy in forfeiture cases must be considered as a remedy falling within the scope of the “saving to suitors” clause.  The Judiciary Act of 1789 allows the states to provide remedy in forfeiture cases where the articles are seized upon navigable waters of the state for violation of state law.[i]  However, it has been held that forfeiture of a vessel involved in illegal fishing in waters is a proceeding exclusively under admiralty jurisdiction.  The court held that state court do not have jurisdiction because the court of a particular county does not have jurisdiction over the high seas.[ii]

[i] C. J. Hendry Co. v. Moore, 318 U.S. 133 (U.S. 1943)

[ii] The Bessie Mac, 21 F. Supp. 220 (D. Wash. 1937)

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