That’s the question the Illinois Supreme Court is pondering. Petra Henderson says she paid $35,000 for her Harley-Davidson in 2010, and was still paying it off when it was seized in 2014. She argues that taking it is an “excessive fine,” prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.
“I would submit, your honor, the thing that Petra did wrong that night was exercise bad judgment,” her lawyer, James Campion, told the justices. “The facts show that she was arguing with her husband in the parking lot at 12:30 at night — of the bar — as to whether he should drive or not. Petra was the designated driver that night. Knowing that the trip was only going to be three to five minutes, she then made the decision to allow him to drive while he was intoxicated.
“For this act of hers, this bad judgment, the state feels that the taking of her valuable motorcycle … was justified,” Campion said. “We would submit that under the facts of this case, the forfeiture Petra Henderson’s motorcycle was an excessive fine, and in fact was in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
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