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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Unabomber’s Property Can Be Sold, Court Says

(CN) - The 9th Circuit upheld a plan to sell or dispose of the Unabomber's personal items - including notes, books, guns and bomb-making materials and instructions - that were seized during his 1996 arrest.

Theodore Kaczynski, the infamous "Unabomber," claimed the plan restricts his freedom of expression and impermissibly allows his victims to vie for any profits from the auction of his goods. He also contested a provision that calls for the destruction of his bomb-making materials instead of returning them to his designee.

He tried to reclaim his property in 2003, but the district court said the government had a "superior ownership interest" in the Unabomber's property. It also determined that his belongings were essentially worthless, as they had to be valued before he gained criminal notoriety in order to keep him from profiting from his crimes.

Kaczynski is serving four consecutive life sentences plus 30 years for a series of mail bombings that killed three people and injured nine others.

In 2005, the 9th Circuit held that the government has an ownership claim in Kaczynski's stuff, but only "if that property is needed to satisfy the terms of the restitution order."

The items aren't worthless, the court noted on appeal, if their sale helps fulfill the $15 million restitution order.

The court said the plan does not violate the First Amendment, because Kaczynski would receive a full set of legible copies before anything was sold.

Kaczynski argued that the originals were more valuable, but offered "no explanation as to how his right to free speech or freedom of expression is impinged by their sale," Judge Hawkins wrote.

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