From the CalGuns Foundations on the suit:
San Carlos, CA (May 9, 2012) – In an important step to secure the rights of California gun owners, The Calguns Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation, and two individual residents of California have filed a new federal lawsuit in San Francisco. The case, entitled Churchill, et. al. v. Harris, et al., alleges that the police departments of both San Francisco and Oakland are unlawfully refusing to return lawfully-owned firearms to individuals who have had charges dropped after police investigations proved that they had done nothing wrong.
The ongoing seizure of those firearms is a violation of the Second and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. What’s more, the departments’ refusal to return property after all charges are dropped is theft.
"In California, the Evidence Code makes it clear that simple possession is proof of ownership of almost all types of common property, including firearms," said Don Kilmer, attorney for the plaintiffs. "The California Department of Justice is misleading police departments in such a way that they violate the rights of gun owners who were investigated and found to not have violated the law."
The Oakland and San Francisco Police departments appear to be relying on a Department of Justice document that is being attached to the required “Law Enforcement Gun Release”, or LEGR, reports indicating that the requester may lawfully own and possess firearms. The document claims that the requesting person has to provide proof of ownership for every firearm when they go to retrieve their seized property.
According to longstanding California law, every firearm seized during a police investigation must be inventoried; a copy of that list is given to the person from whom firearms are seized. Every law enforcement agency knows which person they took firearms from and what specific firearms were taken.
"It's hard enough for a law-abiding gun owner to live through the uncertainty and fear caused by a false allegation or arrest, but to have the very people who are trusted and sworn to serve them then steal their property after they've been exonerated is inexcusable," said Calguns Foundation chairman Gene Hoffman. "Law-abiding Californians should not be forced to seek out expensive legal representation just to get back what is rightfully theirs in the first place."
A copy of the complaint and case filings can be downloaded here. The full docket can be viewed at this link.