In the Matter of: 2000 PETERBILT TRACTOR & TRAILER, WA LIC: 19601RP, VIN: 1XPSD69X2YD479117; $12, 500.00 U.S. CURRENCY; SEIZED IN MCSO #13-073240.STATE OF ARIZONA ex rel. MARK BRNOVICH, Plaintiff/Appellee,
RAFAEL CISNEROS-RUIZ, a single man, Claimant/Defendant/Appellant.
from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Nos.
CV2013-009164; CV2013-012378; CV2013-012889, The Honorable
Dawn M. Bergin, Judge
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Kenneth R.
Hughes Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee
S. Hartzell, Tucson Counsel for Claimant/Defendant/Appellant
S. Krejci, Tucson Counsel for Amicus Curiae Pima County
Alexander T. Mahon, Florence Counsel for Amicus Curiae Pinal
Kenton D. Jones delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge Patricia A. Orozco
Rafael Cisneros-Ruiz appeals the trial court's order
granting the in rem forfeiture of currency, a
semi-truck, and a trailer. Cisneros argues he did not timely
waive service and that, because he was not thereafter
properly served, he was not required to answer the
State's complaint within the period set forth in Arizona
Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section
13-4311(G)or within the extended period allowed to
one who waives service. For the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In April 2013, law enforcement officers performed a traffic
stop on a semi-truck Cisneros was driving. Cisneros consented
to a search of the truck, in which officers found $9, 000 in
a bag under the passenger seat and $3, 564 in Cisneros's
pocket. The officers arrested Cisneros on suspicion of money
laundering and seized the money, truck, and trailer. After
impounding the truck, officers found and seized an additional
$31, 040 hidden behind the dashboard.
In September 2013, the State filed a notice of pending in
rem and in personam forfeiture with the court,
a copy of which was sent to Cisneros via certified
mail. The following month, Cisneros filed a
timely claim "against forfeiture and for return of
seized property" in the State's forfeiture action.
In his claim, Cisneros directed that all future mailings
should be sent to his legal counsel at an address he
On October 31, 2013, the State filed a complaint within that
same forfeiture action. Consistent with Cisneros's
instruction, the State mailed the forfeiture complaint and a
request for waiver of service to his attorney on November 4,
2013. That request advised Cisneros that, should he agree to
waive service and return the executed waiver form within
thirty days of November 4, 2013, he would be allowed sixty
days from November 4, 2013 to file his answer. On December
11, 2013, thirty-seven days after the State mailed the
complaint and waiver request, Cisneros's attorney signed
the waiver of service form on behalf of his client and
returned it to the State. The State then filed the waiver
with the trial court. On January 14, 2014, thirty-four days
after returning the waiver of service form and seventy-one
days after the State mailed the complaint and waiver request,
Cisneros filed his answer.
In February 2014, the State filed an application for an order
of in rem forfeiture pursuant to A.R.S. §
13-4311(G) alleging Cisneros's answer was untimely. After
oral argument, the trial court granted the State's
application, dismissed Cisneros's claims, and ordered all
property seized from Cisneros be forfeited in rem.