United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
in rem civil forfeiture proceeding came before the
Court for a hearing on September 16, 2019, in Dublin,
Georgia. The primary purpose of the hearing was to address
the disposition of the Funds Seized from T. Rowe Price
Account Ending in XXXX5215 (the "T. Rowe Price Funds
5215") . These funds now reside in the Registry of the
Court in total amount of $823, 561.62. At the hearing,
it was determined that the only two Claimants to the T. Rowe
Price Funds 5215 are Ms. Lisa Bird - the ex-wife of the
George Mack Bird III, a criminal defendant from whose case
the funds were derived and seized - and their son, George
Mack Bird IV. The United States Government and George Mack
Bird III, through counsel, disavowed and disclaimed any
interest in the T. Rowe Price Funds 5215.
Court has received numerous exhibits, written statements and
representations, and summary argument regarding the
origination and ownership of the T. Rowe Price Funds 5215.
However, it has received scant admissible evidence on the
matter. "Evidence" may come in the form of
testimony, records, documents, concrete objects or other
things presented to the senses that is offered to prove the
existence or nonexistence of a fact. See Evidence,
Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).
"Admissible evidence'' is relevant and ``of such
a character (e.g., not unfairly prejudicial, based on
hearsay, or privileged) that the court should receive
it." Id.; see also Admissible
Evidence, Black's Law Dictionary (5th ed.
1979) (``the evidence introduced is of such a character that
the court or judge is bound to receive it") .
Admissibility of evidence in federal courts is governed by
the Federal Rules of Evidence. In this case, the Claimants
have attached excerpts of documents, unsworn statements, and
letters and records containing hearsay in an effort to show
that one claim is superior to the other. And, as noted at the
hearing, there are fundamental gaps or lapses of evidence in
each party's presentation. Accordingly, the Court was
unable to make factual determinations at the September
16th hearing. The matter of disposition of the T.
Rowe Price Funds 5215 therefore remains unresolved.
stipulations between the Claimants as to factual
representations may cure some admissibility issues. A
"stipulation" is "[a] voluntary agreement
between opposing parties concerning some relevant point . . .
." Stipulation, Black's Law Dictionary
(11th ed. 2019) . Stipulations "obviate the
need for proof" and "narrow the range of litigable
issues." Louis v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.,
2011 WL 13223563, at *4 (S.D. Fla. May 11, 2011) (cited
source omitted). Thus, if the Claimants herein are able to
stipulate to the facts arguably demonstrated in their
submissions, the need for further proof of those facts would
be eliminated. To that end, the Claimants are encouraged to
meet with each other or counsel to discuss the possibility of
factual stipulations. Any stipulations must be reduced to
writing ahead of the yet to be scheduled evidentiary hearing.
September 16th hearing, it was suggested that the
United States Attorney's Office may have documents or
other information related to the T. Rowe Price Funds 5215. In
fact, Claimant Lisa Bird previously filed a motion to compel
responses from the Government to her requests for production
of documents related to the investigation of George Mack Bird
Ill's financial assets. The Court inquired of Ms. Bird
and she acknowledged that her principal interest in this
civil case is the T. Rowe Price Funds 5215. Thereafter,
Government counsel AUSA Cunningham agreed to meet with Ms.
Bird and with counsel for the other Claimant, George Mack
Bird IV, to determine whether relevant, non-privileged
documents pertaining to the T. Rowe Price Funds 5215 exist in
the United States Attorney's criminal case file. Ms. Bird
therefore agreed that the motion to compel could be
terminated with leave to file a more specific motion should
the need arise after consulting with the United States
the foregoing, the Court hereby DIRECTS the
remaining Claimants, Ms. Lisa Bird and Mr. George Mack Bird
IV, through counsel, to confer as to whether there are
factual stipulations that can be entered upon the record
prior to the evidentiary hearing, which will be scheduled as
soon as practicable. The Court further
DIRECTS that the Claimants, either
separately or together, meet with AUSA Cunningham at a time
and place convenient to the participants to discuss the
production of any relevant, non-privileged documents
pertaining to the T. Rowe Price Funds
5215. Finally, the Clerk is directed to
TERMINATE the motion to compel filed by
Claimant Lisa Bird (doc. no. 65) without prejudice to her
right to seek appropriate further relief.
 The United States Government deposited
these funds into the Registry in accordance with this
Court's Order of July ...