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Plenipotentiary Tom

FAIR Act to Reform Asset Seizure Laws

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yup. the writer at reason waits around for juicy, gossipy, details of asset forfeiture fund "abuse" to show up in his twitter feed then writes them up for maximal outrage amongst the reason reading rubes.

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17 hours ago, A guy in the Chesapeake said:

I think that perhaps you're both choosing the wrong example or emphasis to make a valid point. 

My point in this thread is about the source of the loot (often people who were never charged with a crime) and what is done with it (it's spent by the looters, not spent with supervision like general tax revenue.)

The emphasis chosen as a distraction by those who wish to defend big government was whether The City (Reporting For New Yorkers) reporter was right in calling stuff like this excessive:
 

Quote

 

The prosecutor’s most expensive flight last year was a $4,780 “discounted upper class” round-trip ticket on Virgin Atlantic to London to attend the Ditchley Foundation Conference on Policing, chaired by the London police commissioner, from Jan. 24, 2018 to Jan. 27, 2018, expense reports reveal.

Roundtrip New York-to-London flights run an average of $675, according to faredetective.com, which tracks flight fees.

 

Whether the extra $4k is excessive is a matter of opinion and should be a matter for legislators to decide, not for those who seize the property to decide.

 

Quote

 

Vance maintains the $620 million in asset forfeiture money his office controls is being well spent.

He has used the funds to create a “Criminal Justice Initiative” that invests in “transformative projects that strengthen and support our youth, families, and communities in New York City,” according to his office.

The 50 grantee organizations include the Legal Aid Society, Osborne Association, Prisoner Reentry Institute, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Health Justice Network, Global Cyber Alliance and Saturday Night Lights.

Vance has also used $38 million in forfeiture money to assist local prosecutors across the country with testing rape kits. The funding has led to 165 prosecutions, with 64 convictions so far, according to a New York Times story.

DAs have wide-ranging flexibility on how asset forfeiture money is used. Expenditures must cover “law enforcement” issues — but few other rules exist.

 

Are those the best ways to spend hundreds of millions of dollars? Yes, says the only person with any say on the subject.

This thread is filled with examples of "law enforcement" issues that richly deserve the quotation marks. The "aw it's not so bad" apologists don't sway me on that point.

 

 

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Testimony on Asset Forfeiture Before the Arkansas State Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights

On the impact of the Timbs case:
 

Quote

 

The Court did not resolve a crucial issue: the question of what exactly counts as "excessive" in the civil forfeiture context. That is likely to be a hotly contested issue in the lower federal courts over the next few years. The ultimate effect of Timbs depends in large part on how that question is resolved. If courts rule that only a few unusually extreme forfeitures qualify as excessive, the impact of Timbs might turn out to be very modest.

Even if the courts ultimately adopt a more robust definition of "excessive," the harm caused by asset forfeitures will still be only partially addressed. Timbs does little to fix the procedural flaws of asset forfeiture, such as the often prohibitive cost of contesting seizures. Nor does it fix the fundamental problem that owners can lose their property even if they were never convicted of a crime, or even charged with one.

 

I doubt there will be a "robust" definition of excessive, nor should there be. Excessive means unusually extreme.

The bigger issue is the second one. I've referred to him as "noted heroin dealer Tyson Timbs" because his case was different from most in that he was guilty and convicted and no one argued that point at all. (He's sober and working last I heard.)

On the recent Arkansas Senate reform:
 

Quote

 

Because SB 308 also does not provided for state-funded counsel, this loophole is by itself large enough to swallow up the new rule.

Data obtained from the Arkansas state Drug Director by the Institute for Justice show that the average cash value of Arkansas asset forfeiture seizures is $1051. In only 13% of cases was the value of the seized property greater than $5000. These latter are likely to be almost the only cases where the property is valuable enough to be worth the expense of litigation.

...

SB 308 also fails to address the problem of "policing for profit." Arkansas law enforcement agencies thus continue to directly benefit from seizures, with all the perverse incentives that creates.

Arkansas law does impose some constraints on "equitable sharing" of asset forfeitures with the federal government. It prohibits the transfer of seized property to the federal government unless there is a court order permitting it. Courts are only allowed to issue such an order if "it reasonably appears that the activity giving rise to the investigation or seizure involves more than one (1) state or the nature of the investigation or seizure would be better pursued under federal law." But the latter criterion can potentially be met in almost any case where the seizure involves a suspected drug crime, so long as the drug in question is illegal under both state and federal law.

 

And so long as "better pursued" means "pursued in a way that involves us keeping the loot in the end."

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The evil libertarians at IJ are at it again.

Institute for Justice Helping Newspaper Get Forfeiture Records

Quote

The Lancaster County District Attorney uses civil forfeiture to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and other property each year. Under Pennsylvania law, he is able to spend the proceeds with few restrictions. Yet detailed information about what property is taken and how the proceeds are spent is secret. Now, reporter Carter Walker and the LNP Media Group are teaming up with the Institute for Justice (IJ), a non-profit public interest law firm, to fight the district attorney in court and bring this information into the light of day. The case could determine whether district attorneys across the commonwealth have to make information about their forfeiture proceeds available to the public.

...

According to IJ’s analysis of forfeiture transparency laws across the country, detailed information about civil forfeiture is hard to come by in Pennsylvania. The only forfeiture information made available to the public comes in the form of annual reports from the Commonwealth Attorney General’s office–and even those cannot be viewed without a RTKL request. These reports provide only basic, topline accounts about what property county district attorneys are forfeiting and total amounts of proceeds spent. In other states, law enforcement has spent forfeiture proceeds on everything from margarita machines, to a zamboni, and sometimes even high-end travel to luxury destinations.

“In Lancaster and across Pennsylvania, forfeiture is happening largely in the dark,” said IJ senior research analyst Jennifer McDonald. “At a minimum, agencies should have to publicly report how they spend forfeiture proceeds.”

Shining a light on the loot would take a lot of the fun out of it. I can see why Pennsylvania public servants are fighting in court to keep the rubes in the dark.

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Alabama Drug Warriors Ruin Lives, Loot Property, Get Sued
 

Quote

 

On January 31, 2018, a Randolph County sheriff's deputy showed up at the home of Greg and Teresa Almond in Woodland, Alabama, to serve Greg court papers in a civil matter.

Greg, 50, wasn't home, but his wife Teresa told the deputy he would be back before long. About two hours later, after Greg had returned home, he heard loud knocking on the door. He remembers shouting "hang on" and walking toward the door when it suddenly flew open. The next thing he knew he was on the floor—ears ringing, dazed, wondering if he'd just been shot.

Several deputies from the Randolph County Sheriff's Department had kicked in his front door and thrown a flashbang grenade at his feet. The officers handcuffed and detained the couple at gunpoint, then started searching their house. The deputy from earlier had reportedly smelled marijuana, and so a county drug task force was descending on the Almonds' home, looking for illegal drugs.

...

The Almonds now face misdemeanor charges for 2nd degree possession of marijuana for personal use and possession of drug paraphernalia (a glass pipe). But that's among the least of their troubles.

The Randolph County Sheriff's Department also seized thousands of dollars in cash and valuables from the family, through civil asset forfeiture. Greg Almond says that as a result of the raid and seizures, their business was ruined, they lost their house, their reputation was tarnished, and their ability to earn a living has been practically destroyed.

Now the Almonds are suing. A federal civil rights lawsuit filed last month alleges that the Randolph County Sheriff's Department illegally seized roughly $8,000 in cash and dozens of firearms, some of which were antiques, from two safes. The raid, the couple argues, violated the Constitution's protections against unreasonable search and seizures as well as their due process rights. Police took the money right out of his wallet, Almond says. According to the lawsuit, his wife's wedding rings, his guitars, and other valuables were lost, were stolen, or do not appear on the sheriff department's inventory of seized items.

The Almonds' allegations against the Randolph County Sheriff's Department, first reported by Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, exemplify the worst aspects of civil asset forfeiture—the heavy-handed use of a tool meant for major drug traffickers against petty offenders and innocent owners. Cases like these have led Alabama lawmakers to propose reining in the state's forfeiture laws, which rank among the most aggressive and unchecked in the U.S.

 

Far from being the "drug lords" that civil asset forfeiture was supposed to target, the Almonds have no criminal record.

Their 27 year old son had some weed.

But loot is loot and now it belongs to the government so good luck getting it back.

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Found among the reasons to celebrate Tax Day yesterday:

We're Spending $400k To Promote Looting In Paraguay
 

Quote

 

In December 2017, the Paraguayan government established the National Secretariat for the Administration of Seized and Forfeited Assets (SENABICO), a newly created government agency responsible for administering seized and forfeited assets.  Prior to establishing SENABICO, Paraguayan law enforcement could seize assets, but lacked a mechanism for pre-conviction asset forfeiture or liquidation, making such seizures subject to individual (and sometimes corrupt) judicial officials with little oversight.  SENABICO now has responsibility over both pre- and post-conviction asset forfeiture, placing it in a position to deprive criminal organizations of resources and prevent individual offenders from continuing to profit from their crimes.  This ability to limit offenders’ financial gain will be key to disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations in Paraguay and the region.

 

New INL support for SENABICO builds on the multi-year OAS-funded “Proyecto BIDAL,” through which Paraguay drafted and passed legislation authorizing the creation of SENABICO.  INL provided support for a regional exchange of asset forfeiture experts to facilitate the drafting of SENABICO-implementing regulations that were completed and presented to the Executive in January 2018.

 

To support further progress in advancing an effective asset forfeiture regime in Paraguay, and building on lessons learned throughout the hemisphere, INL has allocated $400,000.  The over-arching goal of this program is to support SENABICO’s strong and sound institutional growth from the beginning and help it become effective at managing and liquidating seized and forfeited assets for the benefit of Paraguayan national interests.

 

Re the bolded part: our expertise would be in showing them how to make such seizures subject to oversight by those doing the seizing and spending.

We should be ending this practice, not spending tax money to expand it.

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Meddlesome Libertarians Attack US Justice System Again
 

Quote

 

Chicago impounds thousands of people's cars a year, including cars owned by people who have committed no crime, and forces them through an expensive, bureaucratic maze to get their car back. This process that violates residents' constitutional rights, according to a new lawsuit filed against the city Monday evening.

The Institute for Justice filed a class-action lawsuit in Illinois state court alleging that Chicago's impound program violates residents' guarantee of due process, as well as protections against excessive fines and unreasonable seizures, under both the Illinois and U.S. constitutions.

"Owners find themselves in a labyrinthine impound system that is plagued by serious procedural flaws," the suit says. "Even innocent owners get caught up in this system, facing hefty fines and fees when someone else used their car to commit a crime without the car owner's knowledge."

A Reason investigation published last year described how Chicago's punitive impound program soaks people in fines and fees and deprives them indefinitely of their transportation, whether or not they actually committed an offense, in an effort to reduce its massive annual budget deficits. It also operates independently from the state's courts, meaning that even in cases where a defendant beats a criminal charge and/or a civil asset forfeiture case, they can still be found liable for thousands of dollars in fines and storage fees, and have their cars held until they pay or relinquish them to the city, by Chicago.

That's exactly what happened to Spencer Byrd, a 51-year-old resident of Harvey, Illinois whose impound case was featured by Reason and is now a named plaintiff in the Institute for Justice lawsuit.

Byrd, a part-time auto mechanic says he was giving a client a lift in his 1996 Cadillac DeVille one evening in June, 2016, when he was pulled over by Chicago police and searched. Byrd was clean, but his passenger, a man he says he'd never met before, had heroin in his pocket.

The police released Byrd without charging him with a crime, but his car was seized and dually claimed by both the Cook County State Attorney's Office and the city of Chicago. He's been fighting for nearly three years to get it back.

A state judge ordered Byrd's car released after he filed a financial hardship motion, but the city refused to return it, claiming he owed money under the city's municipal code.

Even after a state judge declared Byrd innocent in the civil forfeiture case against his Cadillac in Illinois state court, he was still found liable for violating Chicago's municipal code in the city's administrative hearings court, which has a low standard of evidence and almost no procedural protections for defendants.

In the meantime, Byrd's livelihood has suffered. His primary trade is carpentry, but his tools have been locked in his car since it was impounded. The city has refused to let him retrieve them, or his car, until he pays his accumulated fines and fees, which according to the lawsuit now stand at more than $17,000.

"If you do wrong, fine, but I didn't do nothing wrong," Byrd tells Reason. "I should have had my car released to me with no fines or anything—thank you, sorry for the inconvenience, and I'm on my merry way—instead of trying to get some type of revenue from me. I was proven innocent, and they still didn't want to act right."

 

The Timbs case, finding that taking a car can be an excessive fine, should prove sorta relevant in this one.

A big difference being that Timbs was actually guilty of a crime, unlike Mr. Byrd and others noted in the article.

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6 minutes ago, badlatitude said:

Tommy doesn't like to be told to go away.


Actually, I WOULD like it if it came with a reason.

You said I should go away from this thread. OK, why?

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Just now, Importunate Tom said:


Actually, I WOULD like it if it came with a reason.

You said I should go away from this thread. OK, why?

You contribute nothing to the conversation is the biggest reason.

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7 hours ago, badlatitude said:

You contribute nothing to the conversation is the biggest reason.

That's slightly more helpful.

Tell me who has contributed more/better on this issue and why and perhaps I can improve.

Also, I'd be interested in other reasons beyond the biggest one.

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On 9/20/2018 at 5:58 AM, Importunate Tom said:

Philadelphia Ends The Looting, Pays Off Victims
 

Quote

 

The Institute for Justice filed the suit in 2014 on behalf of the Sourovelises, a couple whose house was seized without warning after their son was caught selling $40 worth of drugs outside. The same day the Sourovelises dropped their son off for court-ordered rehab treatment, they returned to find police had locked them out of their own home, even though there was no evidence they were aware of the drug activity.

The lawsuit alleged that the city was seizing 300 to 500 homes a year, violating residents' constitutional rights and creating an illegal profit incentive, since forfeiture revenue directly funds police and district attorney budgets.

...

Four years after Philadelphia police seized the home of Markela and Chris Sourovelis for a minor drug crime committed by their son, the city has agreed to almost completely dismantle its controversial civil asset forfeiture program and pay $3 million to its victims.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, announced today that the city had agreed to a settlement in a federal civil rights class-action lawsuit challenging its forfeiture program.

...

A 2015 report by the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union found that almost a third of cash forfeiture cases in Philadelphia involved money owned by people who had not been found guilty of a crime. In one of the worst examples, police seized $2,000 from an 87-year-old pensioner after finding two joints (her husband, a retired dock worker, smoked marijuana to relieve his chronic arthritis) in their apartment.

 

Under the settlement, the seized loot will go back to the rightful owners instead of going to pad police payrolls. It's always good news when the drug war's cash cow gets gored.

Philadelphia Settlement Moving Forward
 

Quote

 

...

“Philadelphians are one step closer to getting justice after years of being treated like ATMs by police and prosecutors,” said Darpana Sheth, lead counsel for plaintiffs and director of the Institute for Justice’s National Initiative to End Forfeiture Abuse. “Innocent victims caught up in Philadelphia’s forfeiture machine will be able to get back every penny taken from them. We strongly encourage anyone who was wronged to find out more at PhillyForfeiture.com.”

The preliminary approval of the settlement is the first step to putting in place two legally binding consent decrees, one governing Philadelphia’s forfeiture practices and the other providing compensation to victims.

 

The first consent decree, if implemented, will prevent the City from engaging in their previous practice of outlasting owners in endless proceedings and thereby keeping the loot.

Quote

 

...

The second consent decree ends Philadelphia law enforcement’s unconstitutional financial incentive. It blocks the District Attorney’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department from using forfeiture proceeds on salaries or other law-enforcement purposes, instead directing those funds to community-based drug prevention and treatment programs. If given final court approval, it also establishes a $3 million fund to compensate forfeiture victims, with the following details:

  • Each qualifying person who lost their property through forfeiture, but who was not convicted of a related criminal charge, will get up to 100 percent of the value of their forfeited property;
  • Each qualifying person who lost their property through forfeiture, but who was only sent to a diversionary program for low-level, first-time offenders, will receive up to 75 percent of the value of their forfeited property;
  • Each qualifying person who submits a timely claim will get up to $90 in recognition of the violation of their constitutional rights;
  • Each of the named representative plaintiffs, who fought for years to right this wrong, will get a $2,500 award for their efforts on behalf of the entire class; and
  • A portion of undisbursed funds will be distributed to non-profit organizations that provide services to communities hardest hit by Philadelphia’s former forfeiture practices.

 

Re the bolded part, I think I'd frame such a check and hang it on the wall if I got one. I wonder if it comes with a token of appreciation of some kind?

Bottom line: meddlesome libertarians are costing taxpayers millions of dollars that they could have simply stolen. It's terrible and I apologize on behalf of my elk.

 

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Progress In North Dakota
 

Quote

 

...Last week the state's Republican governor, Doug Burgum, signed House Bill 1286, which seriously curtails law enforcement agencies' ability to arrest somebody, take his or her property, and attempt to keep what they've seized for themselves even when they cannot prove an underlying crime.

...

North Dakota's rules were particularly bad for the citizens. It's one of only two states to get an F grade in the Institute for Justice's "Policing for Profit" state-by-state analysis. (Massachusetts is the other.)

...

Thanks to the bill signed last week, police will now have to get a conviction before they can try to force most people to forfeit their assets. There are exemptions in cases where the defendant is dead, has been deported, has disappeared, or has abandoned the property. It also allows an exception if police and prosecutors can provide evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the assets they want to seize were directly connected to a crime. That's relevant because in asset forfeiture cases, the things to be seized are actually the subject of the legal case, not the people accused of crimes. North Dakota is requiring the same standard of proof to attempt to seize property as it does to convict people, even if they can't actually convict somebody of an underlying crime.


 

It has been noted that the Institute for Justice is a

On 5/4/2019 at 11:55 AM, Olsonist said:

nutjob libertarian law firm


So perhaps some sane people will come along to explain why they are so horribly wrong and nutty on this issue.

It's really amazing that more people don't object to their crazy behavior. After all, they won the Timbs case in the Supreme Court, so their nutty views are clearly a threat to drug warriors and other fans of Duopoly power everywhere. Meaning: bad.

Don't hold your breath waiting for an explanation of why it's bad. It's just bad. Bad bad bad. And nutty.

Surely enough messenger attacks will substitute for an argument at some point?

 

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15 minutes ago, Mismoyled Jiblet. said:

people want more government than they want to pay for via taxation, property takings & fines are one way to give that to the people. in that respect 0-tax a-holes like dogballs are part  of the problem.


As usual, your 0-tax assertion is baseless and false.

Also as usual, I'm the one here opposing these looters, not you.

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17 minutes ago, Importunate Tom said:


As usual, your 0-tax assertion is baseless and false.

Also as usual, I'm the one here opposing these looters, not you.

What can you suggest people do if they agree with you and want to fix the problem?  Vote straight L on the ticket?

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10 minutes ago, MR.CLEAN said:

What can you suggest people do if they agree with you and want to fix the problem?  Vote straight L on the ticket?

Visit the drug war thread and read it instead of blindly posting assumptions.

Donate to the Institute for Justice.

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The first one was really just a suggestion for you, CLEAN.

But the second one is a real suggestion and would probably have more effect than voting L, not that I will stop voting L.

TeamL candidates virtually never win. The IJ, on the other hand...

On 4/23/2019 at 5:34 AM, Importunate Tom said:
On 4/8/2019 at 6:34 AM, jocal505 said:
Quote

The IJ names its four major issues as "private property, economic liberty, free speech and school choice." It claims to have litigated almost 200 cases with a 70 percent victory rate, including four victories out of five Supreme Court cases.

Hmm..

Should be www.sourcenotpayingattention.org.

That would be 5 out of 6, for those of us who pay attention.


They win often enough that sourcenotpayingattention.org can't even keep up. As Eva Dent.

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Possibly Helpful Webinar for the good people at sourcenotpayingattention.org

Quote

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the excessive fines clause of the Eighth Amendment applies to state and local governments in Timbs v. Indiana. What does the decision mean for state and local governments? Sign up to find out!

 

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8 hours ago, Mismoyled Jiblet. said:

Asset forfeiture can occur without a conviction. There's even a long thread here about it that would be much more interesting if it weren't for ......


Hah! Because of the many contributions from so many other thoughtful posters.

This thread must look ridiculous to those who have me on ignore. Content free, more or less, which I guess is what miscut considers interesting.

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On 2/28/2019 at 4:23 AM, Importunate Tom said:

Michigan Considering Reform
 

What actually happens doesn't look anything like the "we're going to take drug dealers' mansions and jets" rhetoric that is used to sell these policies to the public.

It looks a lot more like shaking down poor people to get more money for police departments without raising taxes.

Update, passed and signed by the Gov
 

Quote

 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed three bills into law Thursday that significantly limit police's ability to forfeit property without first obtaining a criminal conviction. Michigan will join 11 other states that have passed laws requiring convictions before forfeitures in some or all cases—part of growing bipartisan concerns that civil forfeiture deprives property owners of due process and creates perverse incentives for the police.

"I know that many of our citizen have not been treated fairly or offered the protections they deserve, and that changes today," Whitmer said at a press conference before signing the bills.

The bills will bar police from seizing property for suspected drug crimes without first obtaining a conviction in cases involving assets under $50,000. They will also strengthen procedural protections for property owners.

 

The bill does allow property owners to sign away these protections, something that has resulted in pressure from cops on innocent people to do exactly that.

A problem that might be less prevalent if this kind of loot were treated like other government revenue and put into the general fund instead of directed toward the seizing agencies.

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17 hours ago, Mismoyled Jiblet. said:

Civil asset forfeiture does not necessarily require a conviction. There's a push to change the laws in many states including Michigan which just changed that to require conviction for asset forfeiture yesterday; California apparently did several years ago, not all states have changed laws to require convictions.

Quote

In the past, police departments could seize a person's property if they believed the items in question were at all connected to a crime.

This would happen even if the owner wasn't charged with a crime.

Under the new reform law, seizing of property can only happen after a conviction or guilty plea from the owner.

https://www.wilx.com/content/news/Governor-signs-civil-asset-forfeiture-bill-509696201.html

There are exceptions.

Quote

House Bill 4001 prohibits civil asset forfeitures for crimes involving controlled substances unless a criminal proceeding is completed and the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty. It specifies situations in which a forfeiture proceeding could go forward without a criminal conviction or guilty plea, such as when no one claims the property or the defendant cannot be located and arrested.

And those who read the Koch-$pon$ored propaganda above know that's not the full list of exceptions.
 

Quote

 

There are some exceptions to the new Michigan laws. In addition to the $50,000 threshold, property can still be forfeited if it's unclaimed, the owner cannot be located, or the owner signs away the conviction requirement as part of deal with law enforcement.

Skorup says he worries that defendants may be pressured by law enforcement to sign away their property. Indeed, in 2018 Wyoming banned the use of roadside waivers following the case of Phil Parhamovich. Parhamovich was pulled over by a Wyoming state trooper while on his way to Wisconsin. Parhamovich said the trooper pressured him into signing away $92,000 in cash that was found in his van, money he said he planned to use to buy a recording studio. A judge eventually ordered the money to be returned.

 

Sorry, I realize that's just trolling and this thread would be better if people did not know such facts.

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52 minutes ago, Lark said:

It often requires lawyer money to get the property back, at the discretion of the sheriff, a special tax on the poor by the police used to seize not just guns but cars and anything else easily resold by the county.    


While that's true, often does not mean always and if they have the resources, a nutjob outfit like the Institute for Justice will help a guy like Tyson Timbs just to make fools of drug warriors in front of the Supreme Court.

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This one is also a first amendment win, but asset forfeiture ended up involved as well.

Mongols Motorcycle Club Can Legally Keep Its Patch
 

Quote

 

...During a sentencing hearing on Friday for racketeering charges against the entirety of the Mongol Nation, Carter ordered the club to pay a fine of $500,000 and serve five years probation. When prosecutors also asked Carter to forfeit the Mongols' trademark for their patch, which bears a figure on a motorcycle resembling Genghis Khan, Carter ruled against the request.

The feds have been after the Mongol patch for years, arguing that displaying the logo is as dangerous as the crimes committed by the club members. As previously reported at Reason, the long legal fight brings together free speech violations, asset forfeiture, and intellectual property. When prosecutors received pretrial authority to go after the patch in 2008, law enforcement confiscated jackets and other items bearing the imagery despite not filing charges for a crime.

Prosecutors briefly enjoyed a win when a California jury decided in January that they could take the trademarked patch away from the group. This decision was eventually overturned by Carter in February. He concluded that the seizure of the trademark violated the First Amendment right to free expression and the Eighth Amendment protection from excessive punishment.

 

I'm glad they won. Learning that the jacket was prohibited is the kind of thing that would make me want to acquire and wear one but it's awfully hot for that kind of clothing here.

 

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7 hours ago, MR.CLEAN said:

Rand Paul is a lying, hypocritical piece of bullshit.  About as libertarian as Trump when it comes down to it.

Only an idiot is a fan of Rand Paul.


He's a TeamR party animal in a lot of ways, as he demonstrated clearly when he withdrew from the Presidential race and endorsed Trump.

There have been other indications since.

But saying he's as libertarian as Trump makes little sense in this thread. The FAIR Act is a libertarian project, not a Trump project.

I'm in a good mood so I didn't move your reply to the Kelo thread, where it would look positively idiotic. Trump's a fan of that decision, Paul is in the libertarian camp.

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3 minutes ago, Importunate Tom said:

I'm in a good mood so I didn't move your reply to the Kelo thread, 

That's odd.

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3 minutes ago, Importunate Tom said:


He's a TeamR party animal

Animal?  Can't take a punch for shit (although it did sound like he was sucker punched).  

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1 minute ago, Cal20sailor said:

Animal?  Can't take a punch for shit (although it did sound like he was sucker punched).  

He needs a faster mower. When I'm riding mine and wearing my hearing protection, a violent lefty like his neighbor could definitely surprise me and punch me, but he'd have to be moving pretty quickly.

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11 minutes ago, justsomeguy! said:

That's odd.

Well Tom suffers from acute mental illness so......

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3 minutes ago, Fakenews said:

Well Tom suffers from acute mental illness so......

He says he's in a good mood. I hope he remains there.

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23 minutes ago, Importunate Tom said:


He's a TeamR party animal in a lot of ways, as he demonstrated clearly when he withdrew from the Presidential race and endorsed Trump.

There have been other indications since.

But saying he's as libertarian as Trump makes little sense in this thread.

But I didn't respond in this thread.  are you off your meds?

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On 4/12/2019 at 9:07 PM, Importunate Tom said:

Alabama Drug Warriors Ruin Lives, Loot Property, Get Sued
 

Far from being the "drug lords" that civil asset forfeiture was supposed to target, the Almonds have no criminal record.

Their 27 year old son had some weed.

But loot is loot and now it belongs to the government so good luck getting it back.

Some good news.

Alabama Passes New Transparency Requirements for Civil Asset Forfeiture
 

Quote

 

...

AL.com reports that law enforcement will have to report "the date of the seizure, the person or entity that owned the property, a description of the property, a description of the suspected underlying criminal activity, any arrests in connection with the seizure, the case numbers of the civil lawsuits for forfeiture of the property, the disposition of the property, and the name of each entity receiving some of the property."

"This bill will go a long way toward informing the people of Alabama how policing for profit affects their communities, small businesses, and law enforcement priorities," Carla Crowder, executive director of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, said in a press statement. "Once this bill becomes law, Alabamians and our elected leaders will finally know which law enforcement agencies are profiting from forfeitures, how much they are taking in, and how they are using those proceeds. We look forward to finally having that data."

 

And more good news about the case referenced in my previous post:

Quote

A judge later dismissed the criminal charges against the Almonds and ordered their property returned.

But the Alabama bill doesn't go far enough. They should have gone with the original version IMO.
 

Quote

 

Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr's bill, as originally introduced, would have required a criminal conviction before property could be forfeited. Had it passed in that form, Alabama would have joined four other states that have essentially abolished civil asset forfeiture.

However, the bill was pared down to include only the new reporting requirements."The original version of this bill showed the path to real reform," Robyn Hyden, executive director of Alabama Arise, an organization that supports civil asset forfeiture reform, said in a press release. "It would have required a felony conviction before property became subject to forfeiture in most cases. It also would have required the state to meet a higher burden of proof in connecting property to a crime. And it would have mandated a detailed, publicly searchable database laying out the full scale of seizures in the state. These reforms are still needed, and we'll continue to fight for them."

 

 

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On 5/22/2019 at 9:39 PM, MR.CLEAN said:

But I didn't respond in this thread.  are you off your meds?

I respond where I think my posts are most on-topic. Sometimes I respond to things like the articles above, sometimes to things posters here say, no matter where they say them. Since the FAIR Act was the example I chose, I posted here.

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Looting By The Numbers
 

Quote

 

Law enforcement groups have long argued that civil asset forfeiture, a practice that allows police to seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, is a vital tool for stopping drug trafficking, but a new study found that the nation's largest forfeiture program had little effect on crime fighting.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm that has challenged asset forfeiture laws in several states, released the study today. It examined a decade's worth of asset forfeiture data from the Justice Department's equitable sharing program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in forfeiture revenues to state and local police agencies, and found that more forfeiture proceeds did not result in more solved crimes or less drug use.

...

While police indeed use civil forfeiture to interdict huge stashes of drugs and cash moving along U.S. highways, numerous news investigations and studies have found that it is just as often, if not more frequently, used to seize petty amounts of cash from everyday people, not cartel lords.

A recent survey of 560 civil asset forfeiture cases in four Texas counties conducted by the Texas Tribune found that half of the cash seizures were for less than $3,000, and 20 percent of the cases were not accompanied by criminal charges. Another investigation earlier this year by several South Carolina news outlets reported that more than 55 percent of the time when South Carolina police seized cash, they took less than $1,000. A Reason analysis of more than 23,000 asset forfeiture cases in Chicago between 2012 and 2017 found the median value was $1,049. Nearly 1,500 of those seizures were for amounts under $100.

Studies and news investigations have also consistently found that asset forfeiture is used disproportionately against minorities and low-income neighborhoods.

...

"Simply put, increased forfeiture funds had no meaningful effect on crime fighting," the study concluded. "However, forfeiture was strongly linked to worsening economic conditions. These results suggest law enforcement agencies pursue forfeiture less to fight crime than to raise revenue."

 

 

Gee, grabbing a thousand bucks here and another thousand there from people who can't fight back doesn't do anything to cartel drug lords but does bring in cash without all the hassle of raising taxes.

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4 minutes ago, Fat Point Jack said:

A link that works:

https://www.fox4now.com/news/local-news/woman-with-100k-in-car-crashes-into-concert-hits-two-people

And I'd expect the answer to your question will be yes.

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Good News For Taxpayers, Bad News For Looters
 

Quote

 

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation that stops the Internal Revenue Service from raiding the bank accounts of small-business owners. The Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act, passed as part of the Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 3151), is named after Institute for Justice clients Jeff Hirsch and Randy Sowers, two victims of the IRS’s aggressive seizures for so-called “structuring.” Through structuring laws, the IRS has routinely confiscated cash from ordinary Americans simply because they frequently deposited or withdrew cash in amounts under $10,000. And by using civil forfeiture, the IRS can keep that money without ever filing criminal charges.

The RESPECT Act was originally introduced by Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Doug Collins (R-GA) after Jeff and Randy testified before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee about their experiences: Jeff had over $400,000 seized from his convenience store distribution business on Long Island while Randy, a Maryland dairy farmer, lost $29,500 to the IRS. Neither man was ever charged with a crime.

Both Jeff and Randy ultimately recovered their wrongfully taken money, but only after years of legal proceedings and high-profile media coverage—including a front-page article in The New York Times and an editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

“The IRS used civil forfeiture to take hard-earned money from innocent small-business owners,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Darpana Sheth, who heads IJ’s National Initiative to End Forfeiture Abuse. “With Congress so bitterly polarized, it’s encouraging to see hundreds of representatives stand together against this inherently abusive practice.”

The Taxpayer First Act previously passed the House by voice vote on June 10. It now heads to President Donald Trump for signature. ...

 

Glad to see that the

On 5/4/2019 at 11:55 AM, Olsonist said:

a nutjob libertarian law firm


Has such broad support in Congress.

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Lawsuit Challenges Chicago Towing Racket After City Destroyed Disabled Woman's Van

Not exactly asset forfeiture related, but it's nutjob libertarians standing up for property rights when no one else will once again and I didn't feel like starting a new thread.
 

Quote

 

According to the new lawsuit, filed in Illinois state court, Chicago has a policy of "towing without telling," ignoring a state law passed in 2005 requiring the city to notify vehicle owners that their cars may be disposed of if not claimed. "As a result, thousands of cars are in effect stolen from citizens of Chicago and sold without proper notice and due process," the lawsuit argues.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Andrea Santiago, a Chicago woman with multiple sclerosis whose van, which included a $10,000 wheelchair lift, was improperly towed and destroyed last year.

As Reason reported, the city of Chicago flagged Santiago's vehicle as abandoned in June 2018, although it was legally parked and had all of its required stickers, including a disability placard. Santiago's family moved the van and put a sign on it saying that it was not abandoned, but United Road Towing, a private contractor for Chicago, hauled it away anyway. Santiago claims she never received a state-required notice from the city informing her that her car had been impounded. Two weeks later, Chicago sold Santiago's van to United Road Towing for $15. A scrap yard then bought the van from the towing company for $615 and destroyed it.

The lawsuit charges that Santiago's case is just one particularly egregious example of what happens to thousands of Chicagoans whose cars are declared abandoned by the city. "The city is disposing of citizens' vehicles without telling them and keeping the proceeds of the sale," the suit claims.

In April, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm, filed a class-action lawsuit challenging Chicago's vehicle impound program.

 

Different issue but I do love it when my meddlesome elk screw with looters operating under the cloak of government power.

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17 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

The whole Libertarian ethos sounds great as long as you don't have to apply it to the real world. Then you have to start justifying all sorts of flights of fantasy.


Seems to me we're right about asset forfeiture and Tyson Timbs got to apply that to the real world. Why was that wrong?

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Hawaii Almost Ends The Looting
 

Quote

 

Hawaii was poised to join more than a dozen other states that require a criminal conviction before police can keep seized property, but a veto from the state's governor could derail the reform efforts and keep in place what civil liberties groups and the legislation's authors say amounts to "government-sponsored theft."

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, announced Monday he intends to veto H.B. 748, a bill that would enact sweeping reforms to the state's civil forfeiture laws, claiming "safeguards presently exist in Hawaii's asset forfeiture statutes that prevent the abuses cited in the bill."

 

Gee, I wonder why the legislature did not agree?

Quote

The Hawaii State Auditor released a report last year finding the state's asset forfeiture program doesn't properly track what happens to property seized from people or properly spend those funds. In fact, the state misallocated $2 million in forfeiture revenues, Honolulu Civil Beat reported:

Oh.

  • Like 1

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It's pretty rare that blessed bipartisan unity does anything other than make me wish for gridlock, but it does occasionally happen.

It just did in the US House of Representatives
 

Quote

 

...Organized by the Institute for Justice, a bipartisan coalition of two dozen organizations, including the American Conservative Union, the ACLU, Heritage Action for America, the Leadership Conference, and the NAACP, had praised the House for unanimously approving an amendment to the minibus that would cut off funding to the so-called “adoption” program. 

...

In January 2015, then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sharply curtailed adoptive forfeitures. Unfortunately, those limits were later repealed by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as part of a new policy directive to “increase forfeitures” in July 2017.

To defund the adoption program, Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Jamie Raskin  (D-MD), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) sponsored an amendment to H.R. 3055 that was unanimously adopted last week. If enacted, their amendment effectively end adoptive seizures and forfeitures through the next fiscal year.

The House vote against adoptive forfeitures comes less than two weeks after the Senate unanimously approved a bill to stop the Internal Revenue Service from raiding the bank accounts of small-business owners with civil forfeiture. In addition, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has reintroduced the DUE PROCESS Act, which would strengthen safeguards for innocent owners, while Rep. Walberg has sponsored the FAIR Act, which would abolish equitable sharing (which includes adoption) and bar federal agencies from retaining forfeiture proceeds.

 

Glad to see legislators from both halves of the Duopoly finding real world applications of libertarian ideas.
 

Quote

 

A recent study by the Institute for Justice further calls into question whether distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in forfeiture proceeds improves police effectiveness. The study—the most extensive and sophisticated of its kind—combines local crime, drug use and economic data from a variety of federal sources with more than a decade’s worth of data from the Justice Department’s equitable sharing program.

The study finds that more forfeiture proceeds do not help police fight crime. Instead, the results indicate police use forfeiture to boost revenue: A 1 percentage point increase in local unemployment—a standard proxy for fiscal stress—is associated with a statistically significant 9 percentage point increase in seizures of property for forfeiture.

 

Only nutjob libertarians would study such a question, or even be interested in it at all, as Eva Dent.

From the study at the link:

Quote

Critics point to a number of real-world examples of law enforcement appearing to police for profit. A case from Ten-nessee is particularly illustrative. When a Nashville television news team followed police officers working I-40 as part of a highway interdiction task force not unlike South Carolina’s Rolling Thunder, it found officers did not work the east- and westbound lanes equally. Rather, they seemed to prefer the westbound side even though they were more likely to find drugs on the eastbound side, as smugglers transported them to Nashville and other cities to the east. A possible explana-tion for this observation is that officers knew they were more likely to find drug money on the westbound side, as smugglers transported it back to Mexico or the West Coast. Records con-firmed officers made 10 times as many stops on the westbound side as they did on the eastbound. In other words, it appeared police were choosing to pursue cash—potential revenue—rather than stop drugs. Even the head of the task force’s board conceded, “[t]hat’s what it looks like. ... That shouldn’t be the case, but that’s what it looks like.” He also admitted that since seizures and fines paid for the task force’s operations, it was possible officers could lose their jobs if they did not generate enough cash.

Gee, incentives actually matter. Whodathunk?

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2 minutes ago, Importunate Tom said:

Whodathunk?

Would you puhlease go to bed?

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3 hours ago, Importunate Tom said:

It's pretty rare that blessed bipartisan unity does anything other than make me wish for gridlock, but it does occasionally happen.

It just did in the US House of Representatives
 

Glad to see legislators from both halves of the Duopoly finding real world applications of libertarian ideas.
 

Only nutjob libertarians would study such a question, or even be interested in it at all, as Eva Dent.

From the study at the link:

Gee, incentives actually matter. Whodathunk?

Good ideas are nice, and Lordy the Libertarians have plenty of them.. (Pause.)

Tell me dogballs, where does the daily race-baiting fit into the Libertarian dreams?

The question answers itself, thanks for the five-year stream of race-baiting, using half a dozen approaches.

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Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Policing For Profit
 

Quote

 

Late yesterday, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that police and prosecutors can keep and use the money they seize, rather than transferring the money to the state’s Common School Fund. The decision contradicts a state constitutional requirement that “all forfeitures which may accrue” must be paid into a fund for the benefit of public education.

The court’s decision, which came in response to a lawsuit brought by the Institute for Justice on behalf of two Indiana taxpayers, allows the state’s law enforcement agencies to keep nearly everything they seize under the guise of it being reimbursement for their expenses.

Taxpayers should pay the expenses of law enforcement, not send police out looking for loot for that purpose.

Quote

The ruling came just hours before the same court held a rehearing in Timbs v. Indiana—a second forfeiture case that challenged the constitutionality of the state’s ability to seize and keep an automobile. The case came back to Indiana after the United States Supreme Court ruled in February that the Indiana Supreme Court had erred when it held that the Excessive Fines Clause of the U.S. Constitution did not apply to state law enforcement.

Uh oh. I wonder how that went?

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Asset Forfeiture - It's For The Puppies!
 

Quote

 

Law enforcement officials have tried every trick to attempt to convince Americans to accept civil asset forfeiture, the controversial process that allows the police to take and keep the money and property of those who are suspected, though not convicted, of criminal activity. In particular, police and prosecutors often insist that they need the seized money and property to help fight the war on drugs.

Polls show that most Americans disapprove of these seizures when they understand what they actually are. Most Americans rightfully think that law enforcement should have to convict somebody of a crime before taking their stuff.

The FBI, faced with such disapproval, and hoping to protect its controversial methods, has now brought out the big guns: adorable puppies. Among other things, the FBI uses civil asset forfeiture to extricate pups when they raid dog-fighting operations. So the agency has put together a video and story purporting to show how important civil asset forfeiture is for the care and safety of such animals.

 

Although likely to lead to amusing court case titles like "US vs 12 Adorable Puppies" the problem is the same as always: the puppies, like other property, did not commit any crime.

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Back in 2014...

On 10/27/2014 at 8:58 PM, Importunate Tom said:

The IRS is into the asset forfeiture game in a big way, sweeping up the cash of many people, accusing about 1/5 of those people with a crime.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/us/law-lets-irs-seize-accounts-on-suspicion-no-crime-required.html?_r=0

 

The NY Times calls the practice "increasingly controversial" but this staple of drug war funding has seemed to me like it should be controversial for decades. Better late than never, I welcome them to the libertarian bandwagon on this one.

And in 2016...

On 5/26/2016 at 6:55 AM, Importunate Tom said:

IRS Returns Seized Money After 3 Years

 

 

Maybe they're crooks and the belated criminal investigation will prove it in court. If a reason to bring charges can be found.

 

I think the seizure of money should happen after such a reason is found...

But it's at last time for a hat tip to Congress and Trump for the Taxpayer First Act
 

Quote

 

Yesterday Donald Trump signed a law that forbids the IRS to seize the bank accounts of business owners based on nothing more than the allegation that they "structured" their deposits or withdrawals to evade federal reporting requirements. That kind of odious money grab—which, like other forms of civil forfeiture, did not require criminal charges, let alone a conviction—provoked bipartisan outrage in Congress after it was publicized by the Institute for Justice, the libertarian public interest law firm.

Since 1970 the humorously named Bank Secrecy Act has required financial institutions to report transactions involving $10,000 or more to the Treasury Department, because such large sums of cash are obviously suspicious. You know what else is suspicious? Transactions involving less than $10,000, because they suggest an attempt to evade the government's reporting requirement, which has been a federal crime, known as "structuring," since 1986.

Suspicion of structuring was the sole justification when the IRS seized $60,000 from Maryland dairy farmer Randy Sowers in 2012, $446,000 from Long Island candy and snack wholesaler Jeffrey Hirsch that same year, $33,000 from Iowa restaurateur Carole Hinders in 2013, and $107,000 from North Carolina convenience store owner Lyndon McLellan in 2014. The negative publicity generated by stories like those led the IRS to announce in 2014 that it would no longer pursue forfeiture in cases where there was no evidence of illegal activity beyond structuring itself. The Justice Department unveiled similar restrictions in 2015.

Section 1201 of the Taxpayer First Act, the bill that Trump signed yesterday, codifies the shift in IRS policy, saying, "Property may only be seized by the Internal Revenue Service" in structuring cases "if the property to be seized was derived from an illegal source or the funds were structured for the purpose of concealing the violation of a criminal law or regulation other than" structuring. The law also requires that the IRS notify the owner within 30 days of a seizure and mandates a hearing to consider whether there was probable cause for the seizure within 30 days of the owner's request.

 

That's nice to know, as I need to move about $9k from one account to another today and don't want it seized as a suspiciously small amount.

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On 11/28/2018 at 10:57 PM, Importunate Tom said:

Hat Tip To Justice Breyer

He got the courtroom to laugh at the government's position in the Timbs case.

And it really is laughable, which is why the latest attempt at reform passed the House unanimously before being stuffed by the Senate.

 

The Comedy Continues In Indiana
 

Quote

 

After losing at the U.S Supreme Court, the state of Indiana still hasn't given up its argument that there are virtually no Eighth Amendment limits on what it can seize using civil asset forfeiture.

In oral arguments before the Indiana Supreme Court last week, Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher said the state's position that it would be constitutional to seize any and every car that went over the speed limit—a line of argument that elicited laughter from the nation's highest court last year—hasn't budged.

"This is the position that we already staked out in the Supreme Court when I was asked by Justice Breyer whether a Bugatti can be forfeited for going over five miles over the speed limit," Fisher said. "Historically the answer to that question is yes, and we're sticking with that position here."

The Indiana Supreme Court is now reconsidering the case of Tyson Timbs' $42,000 Land Rover, and whether the state's 2015 seizure of Timbs' car after he was convicted of a drug felony violated his Eighth Amendment protections against excessive fines and fees.

 

Trying an argument again after a SCOTUS Justice literally got the room to laugh at it takes yuge balls. And no brains.

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On 7/3/2019 at 6:32 AM, Importunate Tom said:

Back in 2014...

And in 2016...

But it's at last time for a hat tip to Congress and Trump for the Taxpayer First Act
 

That's nice to know, as I need to move about $9k from one account to another today and don't want it seized as a suspiciously small amount.

They may not seize it but will still file a SAR

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18 hours ago, MR.CLEAN said:

They may not seize it but will still file a SAR

But there's nothing suspicious about my activity.

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40 minutes ago, Importunate Tom said:

But there's nothing suspicious about my activity.

not according to these guys and gals

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-05 at 11.13.18 AM.png

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17 hours ago, MR.CLEAN said:

not according to these guys and gals

 

Relevance? The reporting rules predate that particular power grab. They're stupid drug war stuff, not stupid Security State stuff, though I admit it can be darn difficult to tell the difference.

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3 hours ago, Importunate Tom said:

though I admit it can be darn difficult to tell the difference.

...after I dogballs hit the fog machine.

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14 hours ago, Importunate Tom said:

Relevance? The reporting rules predate that particular power grab. They're stupid drug war stuff, not stupid Security State stuff, though I admit it can be darn difficult to tell the difference.

Reporting rules may, but practice (and enforcement) didn't for SARs, which increased by something like 10000% in the first few years after the patriot act.  I represent multimillion dollar companies that do nothing but make software that creates and submits SARs and other required Patriot Act disclosures.

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1 hour ago, MR.CLEAN said:

Reporting rules may, but practice (and enforcement) didn't for SARs, which increased by something like 10000% in the first few years after the patriot act.  I represent multimillion dollar companies that do nothing but make software that creates and submits SARs and other required Patriot Act disclosures.

That statement brings to mind the cynical email sig:

"If you're not part of the solution there can be really good money made in prolonging the problem"

FKT

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7 hours ago, MR.CLEAN said:

Reporting rules may, but practice (and enforcement) didn't for SARs, which increased by something like 10000% in the first few years after the patriot act.  I represent multimillion dollar companies that do nothing but make software that creates and submits SARs and other required Patriot Act disclosures.

I feel safer already.

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Would seizing a home over uncut grass be an excessive fine?
 

Quote

 

...

"The city has gone nuclear!" complains his lawyer, Ari Bargil. "$500 per day for the violation of having tall grass…. They could have done what their own ordinances permit them to do: hire a lawn service to come out and mow the grass. Then send Jim a bill for 150 bucks. But they didn't do that."

Why not? Bargil and Ficken say it's because Dunedin's officials just want money.

Dunedin's politicians wouldn't talk to us. Instead, they spent $25,000 on a public relations firm that told reporters, "Dunedin has no desire to impose large fines… (only to) ensure that Dunedin is a high-quality community."

...

 

Uh huh. Then why not send a lawn service to the home and send the owner the bill? It would probably take a 2.5 million dollar PR firm to field that one. Which would require a lot more fines and less lawn cutting.

But simply out$pending taxpayers doesn't always work.
 

Quote

 

Ficken managed to get expensive legal help for free from the Institute for Justice, a law firm that defends individuals abused by governments.

...

And in places such as Dunedin, if you can't pay a fine, they'll take your home.

"The city attorney of Dunedin last year sought permission to foreclose on 18 properties," says Bargil.

That violates the Eighth Amendment, says the Institute for Justice. The Amendment not only protects us from "cruel and unusual punishment" but also from "excessive fines."

...

And what's more excessive than politicians taking your home because you didn't cut your grass?

 

Good question.

Mr. Ficken could just start eating grass and claim he has a large garden, which I guess would be OK since the Institute for Justice led a communist takeover of our government.

But even without that claim, the applicability of the "excessive fines" part of the Bill of Rights that was confirmed when the Institute for Justice won Tyson Timbs' case should be useful.

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6 hours ago, Mismoyled Jiblet. said:

And the libertarians totally have a solution  :rolleyes:

You know who tells lies? Libertarians. Rand children who refuse to accept that everyone else wants a different world than they do and all Libertarians are good for is giving excuses not to pay for shit and fucking things up. And in that way Libertarians are exactly like Team R. They just pretend they are different so they dont' have to accept responsibility.

It's damn easy to oppose everything from the sidelines and crow about being right. Congrats Tom for being right about the gulf war!


Heh. Must have really burned you up when a unanimous Supreme Court agreed with the nutjob libertarians in Tyson Timbs' case.

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Friggin' looters.

A DEA Agent Got a Drug Dealer to Buy a Truck So the Agent Could Seize it Through Asset Forfeiture
 

Quote

 

A former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent was convicted Tuesday of lying and falsifying records to hide a long-running scheme to skim money and other property during drug busts. In one scheme, he convinced a confidential informant buy a truck so the agent could seize it through asset forfeiture.

A New Orleans jury found former DEA special agent Chad Scott guilty of seven counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and falsifying government records. The U.S. government's indictment alleged that from at least 2009 to 2016, Scott and two other members of a New Orleans drug task force conspired to steal money from suspects and from the DEA's evidence locker, and to falsify records to cover their tracks. 

Part of Scott's misconduct involved getting a Houston drug dealer to purchase a $43,000 Ford F-150 so that Scott could seize it through asset forfeiture laws and then use it as a work vehicle. Scott falsified seizure records to make it appear that he had taken the truck in Louisiana.

 

The reason this continues is because that looks a LOT like $43k in tax dollars saved to Duopoly drug warriors. Still looks like ordinary looting to me.

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Not asset forfeiture but still seems to be related to looting with a conflict of interest so...

Federal Court Declares New Orleans Debtor’s Prison Unconstitutional
 

Quote

 

Despite Congress abolishing debtors’ prisons in 1833, and the U.S. Supreme Court declaring them unconstitutional 150 years later, today, thousands of Americans are locked up for failing to pay their debts to the state. But in a one-two punch against modern-day debtor’s prisons, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two unanimous decisions that declared that criminal court judges in New Orleans have an unconstitutional conflict of interest in collecting fines and fees. 

Due to their “institutional interest” in generating court revenue (a “substantial portion” of their budget), the judges of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court “failed to provide a neutral forum,” which in turn violated the constitutional right to due process. 

...

Unfortunately, the Orleans Parish debtor’s prison is hardly an anomaly. Turning courts into ATMs is “a growing and troubling trend,” the Institute for Justice wrote in amicus briefs for both cases, since it “creates an incentive for governments to use their municipal court and law enforcement systems, not to protect the public and do justice, but to generate revenue.” 

 

That last sentence from the nutjob libertarians' amicus brief pretty well describes drug war looting too.

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The veil of secrecy covering how Pennsylvania District Attorneys spend forfeiture loot has been lifted.

Judge Declares Lancaster District Attorney Forfeiture Records Subject to Right to Know Law Request
 

Quote

 

In a newly released decision, Lancaster County Judge Leonard Brown determined that forfeiture records being sought by reporter Carter Walker and the media group LNP are subject to a Pennsylvania Right to Know Law request.

...

Today’s ruling should also pave the way for members of the media and the public to get similar information from DAs across the Commonwealth.”

Walker filed a request for civil forfeiture records with the district attorney in September 2018 and was denied. Upon appeal, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records concluded that the records were subject to the Commonwealth’s Right to Know Law and ordered the district attorney to make them available. Rather than respect the office’s decision, District Attorney Craig Stedman appealed in court.

 

Gee, I wonder whether the spending reports will reveal why DA took the matter to court rather than comply with the open records law?

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On 4/30/2019 at 6:03 AM, Hypercapnic Tom said:

Meddlesome Libertarians Attack US Justice System Again
 

The Timbs case, finding that taking a car can be an excessive fine, should prove sorta relevant in this one.

A big difference being that Timbs was actually guilty of a crime, unlike Mr. Byrd and others noted in the article.

Another plaintiff added to the suit against Chicago's vehicle theft impoundment program
 

Quote

 

...

impound hearings are heavily stacked against defendants. They are civil matters, not criminal, meaning defendants aren't afforded lawyers. The hearings rely on a low standard of evidence and there is no innocent owner defense, so the city only has to prove it's more likely than not that a violation occurred in the owner's car. Finally, they operate independently of the state court system, meaning even defendants who beat a criminal or asset forfeiture case in state court can still have their car held indefinitely by the city.

Nelson was also told her car could not be released until the criminal case against her granddaughter's boyfriend concluded. In February 2019, prosecutors dropped the charges against the boyfriend, but when Nelson called to ask about her car, she was told it had already been sold off. According to the lawsuit, she never received a notice that the city intended to dispose of her car.

A WBEZ analysis of Chicago's gigantic towing operation, of which the vehicle impound program is only a part, found that in 2017 the city towed nearly 94,000 cars. About one in four of those cars were sold to United Road Towing for scrap prices, for a total of $4 million. WBEZ estimated the actual total value of the cars to be $22 million.

However, the sale of Nelson's car did nothing to draw down her debts to Chicago. There is no statute of limitations for the fines and they can't be discharged through bankruptcy.

...

 

Nothing to see here, just shaking down the subjects

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In excessive fine news,

Miami Beach's $100,000 Fines for Airbnb Rentals Are Illegal, Court Rules

Quote

 

But Miami Beach's crackdown on Airbnb is "in jarring conflict" with a state law capping municipal fines at $1,000 per day, Judge Michael Hanzman ruled.

"The caps set by the legislature…may not in the city's view be adequate to force (or motivate) Miami Beach's wealthiest property owners to comply with these ordinances," Hanzman wrote. "The city may (or may not) be correct, but that is a matter it must take up in Tallahassee."

....

But the question of whether the city was allowed to impose five- and six-figure fines for short-term rentals always seemed like a pretty straightforward one. Florida state law is explicit: municipalities may not impose fines of more than $1,000 per day—no small punishment for most people. Indeed, even one Miami Beach city councilman (who supported the city's massive fines) described the penalties as "grossly disproportional but not excessive due to the rental rates that can be commanded here."

The fines are only part of the story. Last year, Miami Beach officials revoked a certificate of occupancy from a home being offered as a short-term rental and ordered utility services to shut off electricity, sewage, and water to the property. The city forced the property owner to prove his home wasn't being used for short-term rentals before it would restore his utilities.

 

Glad we've got a judge that can read.

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Civil asset forfeiture in South Carolina is unconstitutional, circuit court judge rules

Some good news.

 

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A South Carolina circuit court judge in Horry County has ruled the state's civil asset forfeiture law unconstitutional, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments.

While the decision by 15th Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John doesn't set precedent beyond his courtroom, it could set the table for a state appellate court to determine whether South Carolina needs to enact reforms to its law.  

...

they allow the government to seize unlimited amounts of cash and other property when no crime has been committed, without a criminal conviction and without proof of a crime having been committed beyond a determination of probable cause," John wrote.

 

He apparently also said it violated S. Carolina's constitution but I haven't read the opinion yet

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7 hours ago, MR.CLEAN said:

Start of a revolution or whimpering death of the failed drug war?

 

Neither, I think. Probably just righteous indignation selling to the rubes again.

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On 10/23/2019 at 9:16 PM, Hypercapnic Tom said:

they allow the government to seize unlimited amounts of cash and other property when no crime has been committed, without a criminal conviction and without proof of a crime having been committed beyond a determination of probable cause," John wrote.

Uh oh. The very first case cited by Judge John was Timbs v Indiana, the recent Libertarian nutjob attack on our criminal justice system. So we know this guy must like hippy druggies and criminals. (And by "we" I mean TeamR partisans, of course.)

The opinion is posted as an image, not text, and I don't feel like playing transcriptionist this morning, so here's an image of an image.

JohnsCarolinaForfeiture.jpg

Pretty subversive stuff, so of course I agree.

 

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Taxation By Citation
 

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Code enforcement is supposed to be about protecting the public by discouraging—via monetary sanctions—dangerous driving and other hazardous personal conduct or property conditions. But in practice, local governments may also—or instead—use their code enforcement powers to raise revenue. This is taxation by citation. It is not a new phenomenon, but only in the past few years has it become an object of national concern. Despite the fresh spotlight, little is known about cities that engage in taxation by citation, beyond a few particularly egregious examples.

To gain a better understanding of taxation by citation, this study explores thephenomenon through the lens of three Georgia cities—Morrow, Riverdale and Clarkston—that have historically relied on fines and fees from traffic and other ordinance violations for large proportions of their revenues.

...

Our findings also suggest taxation by citation is shortsighted. Cities may gain revenue, but they may also pay a price for it in the form of lower community trust and cooperation.

 

The named cities derive significant chunks of their revenue from fines, a far greater percentage than other, similar cities.

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Anyone remember noted heroin dealer Tyson Timbs?

Yeah, he still has not gotten his car back, but he did come a step closer last week.
 

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In a path-marking ruling, today the Indiana Supreme Court announced that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause secures meaningful protections against exorbitant fines and forfeitures. The case of State of Indiana v. Tyson Timbs was back before the court after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Tyson Timbs’s favor in February on the question whether the Excessive Fines Clause applies at all to the states.

As part of its ruling in February, the United States Supreme Court sent the case back to the Indiana Supreme Court and tasked it with determining when a fine or forfeiture is unconstitutionally “excessive” under the Eighth Amendment. Today, the court rejected the state prosecutors’ view that any property used in a crime is subject to being taken by the government. Instead, the court held, the property owner’s culpability, the extent of their misconduct, and their financial circumstances must all factor into the Eighth Amendment inquiry.

“[T]he owner’s economic means,” the court reasoned, “is an appropriate consideration” for determining whether a fine or forfeiture is constitutionally excessive. “To hold the opposite would generate a new fiction: that taking away the same piece of property from a billionaire and from someone who owns nothing else punishes each person equally.”

The four-justice majority also emphasized that “the way Indiana carries out civil forfeitures is both concerning and symptomatic of a shift in in rem forfeiture law and practice,” before sending the case back to the trial court to apply the new standard to the facts of Tyson Timbs’s case. In 2015, the trial court in Grant County had ruled that forfeiting Tyson’s vehicle was excessive and that the property should be returned....

 

When he finally gets it back, he should probably also be compensated for the depreciation that has occurred since it was taken.

As for the nutjob libertarians who are representing him, Charity Navigator ranks them pretty well.

IJCharityNav.jpg

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In other forfeiture news,

IJ Scores Win In Lawsuit Against IRS Over Forfeiture Records
 

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This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously sided with the Institute for Justice (IJ) in a fight with the IRS over the agency’s forfeiture records. In its decision, the court ruled that the IRS cannot deliberately frustrate FOIA requests by quibbling over immaterial technicalities. The court also ruled that the IRS must put the effort into determining which records are public, rather than applying blanket exemptions to whole swaths of data that may or may not be exempt from disclosure.

“The lack of transparency surrounding forfeiture is deeply troubling, especially considering the vast power federal agencies have to take property from people without so much as charging them with a crime,” said IJ Senior Research Analyst Jennifer McDonald. “The public ought to know how the IRS is using forfeiture.”

The effort started in March 2015 when IJ filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all records contained in the IRS Asset Forfeiture Tracking and Retrieval System (AFTRAK). The IRS originally refused to release the information unless IJ paid more than $750,000 in fees. Once IJ brought suit under FOIA in December 2016, the agency reversed course and argued that AFTRAK is not actually a database and therefore cannot possibly contain records. Rather than search for all of the requested records, the IRS eventually produced one standard forfeiture report that was 99% redacted. Later, the court ordered the IRS to remove some of the redactions, but it otherwise agreed that the IRS had fulfilled its obligations, prompting IJ to appeal the decision.

Senior Circuit Judge Williams rebuked the IRS’s strategy of contesting the definition of a database, writing, “A request certainly should not fail where the agency knew or should have known what the requestor was seeking all along.”

 

It depends what the meaning of database is...

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In yet more forfeiture news,

County Says Seizing Home Over $8.41 Tax Debt Was OK Because Counties Need Money
 

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The "government revenue is inherently good" argument did win in Kelo v New London and might again.

Arguing before the Michigan Supreme Court, attorneys for the county that pocketed nearly $25,000 from forfeiting Uri Rafaeli's property over a $8.41 tax debt argued that it's not really about the property—it's about the money.

That telling moment came in the midst of a back-and-forth between Justice Richard Bernstein and John Bursch, the attorney representing Oakland County. In trying to defend the county's right to seize the full value of Rafaeli's property over a minuscule debt, Bursch had argued that it was impossible for local governments to compensate all homeowners who had been caught in similar circumstances. The price tag, he estimated, would be more than $2 billion statewide.

Rafaeli's situation is awful but hardly unique: Under the terms of a state law passed in 1999, county treasurers in Michigan are allowed to seize properties with unpaid taxes, settle the debt, and keep the remainder for their own budgets. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm, is challenging that law, arguing it violates provisions in both the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions.

"A ruling for the plaintiffs will ruin local governments," warned Bursch. "That will come right out of schools, roads, firefighters, and other basic services."

Bernstein wasn't buying it.

"The interpretation you gave was very dramatic: that this is going to end schools, and the counties are going to crumble, and society is just going to implode," said Bernstein, interrupting Bursch. "You have a situation where a person owed $8 and lost their house. I mean, how is that equitable?"

...

 

OTOH, the "how is that equitable" arguement did prevail in the Timbs case.

The link in that excerpt leads to a more detailed account of how Mr. Rafaeli came to owe 8 bucks.
 

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The $60,000 purchase was recorded by the Oakland County Register of Deeds on January 6, 2012. About six months later, in June 2012, Rafaeli was notified that he had underpaid his 2011 property tax bill by $496. Rafaeli made subsequent property tax payments on time and in full—and, in January 2013, he attempted to settle the unpaid tax debt, according to court documents. 

But he made a mistake in calculating the interest owed, resulting in another underpayment of $8.41. 

A little more than a year later, in February 2014, Rafaeli's rental property was one of 11,000 properties put up for auction by Oakland County. It was sold for $24,500 in August of the same year—far less than what Rafaeli had paid for the property just three years earlier. 

Today, real estate service Zillow, which rates the Southfield region as a "hot" market in the Detroit region, estimates the property is worth $128,000, But Rafaeli has missed out on reaping a financial reward for being an early investor in the area. 

 

That seems like a less than complete account as well. Not sure how it works in Michigan but in FL there would be at least some notification between the underpayment and the auction on the courthouse steps.

If the goal is simply to collect the taxes, keeping the extra money makes no sense. If the intent of keeping the extra money is punitive, as in a fine, it might just be excessive, as a unanimous court found in the Timbs case.

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Looting and Prohibition once again go hand in hand
 

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According to the Institute for Justice, Massachusetts has "the worst civil forfeiture laws in the country." It looks like state legislators are about to outdo themselves.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives yesterday approved a bill that would ban flavored e-cigarettes, impose a 75 percent excise tax on "electronic nicotine delivery systems" (including e-liquids as well as devices), and authorize forfeiture of cars driven by vapers caught with "untaxed" products. The House approved H4183 by a vote of 127 to 31, and the state Senate is expected to consider it next week.

...

The bill also says a police officer who "discovers an untaxed electronic nicotine
delivery system in the possession of a person who is not a licensed or commissioner-authorized electronic nicotine delivery system distributor" may seize both the product and the "receptacle" in which it is found, "including, but not limited to, a motor vehicle, boat or airplane in which the electronic nicotine delivery systems are contained or transported." Such property "shall be turned over to the commissioner [of revenue] and shall be forfeited to the commonwealth." The commissioner may then sell the seized property and "deposit the proceeds in the General Fund."

Dan Alban, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice who has been fighting forfeiture abuse for years, was astonished by this provision. "This is completely insane and endangers the property rights of anyone in Massachusetts," he says. "Even if you don't have an 'untaxed electronic nicotine delivery system,' are you going to search every passenger in your vehicle? It is as though someone wanted to highlight the indefensibility of forfeiture via reductio ad absurdum. Does 'receptacle' include a house as well?" Alban says the provision's only redeeming feature is that the proceeds from forfeitures would go into the state's general fund, rather than the budgets of the police departments that seize the property.

 

"Receptacle" absolutely does include houses (and boats) in the stupid drug war, so I'm not sure why this is even a question.

It's good that the usual conflict of interest created by letting the seizing agency keep the loot is absent from this bill but I agree that this is the only redeeming feature.

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On 11/9/2019 at 8:21 AM, Plenipotentiary Tom said:

In yet more forfeiture news,

County Says Seizing Home Over $8.41 Tax Debt Was OK Because Counties Need Money
 

OTOH, the "how is that equitable" arguement did prevail in the Timbs case.

The link in that excerpt leads to a more detailed account of how Mr. Rafaeli came to owe 8 bucks.
 

That seems like a less than complete account as well. Not sure how it works in Michigan but in FL there would be at least some notification between the underpayment and the auction on the courthouse steps.

If the goal is simply to collect the taxes, keeping the extra money makes no sense. If the intent of keeping the extra money is punitive, as in a fine, it might just be excessive, as a unanimous court found in the Timbs case.

I only saw the headlines, is the Detroit case a forfeiture  issue or just a property tax dispute?

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1 hour ago, MR.CLEAN said:

I only saw the headlines, is the Detroit case a forfeiture  issue or just a property tax dispute?

That depends who you ask.

From the previous article, which is linked to the one I posted:
 

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Counties seizing excess revenue above and beyond the amount necessary to settle the unpaid debts could be considered a taking—in which case it would be subjected to the Fifth Amendment, which promises that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation." The Michigan Constitution offers similar protections against government taking private property without compensation.

Oakland County has prevailed in lower courts by arguing that the seizure of Rafaeli's property was a forfeiture.

 

But we can just call it looting if the "f" word bothers you.

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3 hours ago, Plenipotentiary Tom said:

That depends who you ask.

From the previous article, which is linked to the one I posted:
 

But we can just call it looting if the "f" word bothers you.

doesn't bother me at all tom.   I am 100% opposed to the concept of civil forfeiture and believe it should be completely ended, and I tend to believe that the government and the courts have turned Eminent Domain into a ridiculously powerful tool with very little accountability. 

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3 hours ago, Plenipotentiary Tom said:

That depends who you ask.

From the previous article, which is linked to the one I posted:
 

But we can just call it looting if the "f" word bothers you.

didn't read the statute but sure hope the court invalidates it.  what a fucking joke.

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58 minutes ago, MR.CLEAN said:

doesn't bother me at all tom.   I am 100% opposed to the concept of civil forfeiture and believe it should be completely ended, and I tend to believe that the government and the courts have turned Eminent Domain into a ridiculously powerful tool with very little accountability. 

If you want, I can ask around and see if maybe the Institute for Justice is looking to hire. ;)

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lol.  i think i've done all the public interest law i'll ever do.

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Should Looters Pay Lawyers?
 

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On May 11, 2015, Miladis Salgado returned home to find her life turned upside down. While she was at work, police had raided her home and seized her entire life savings—$15,000 in cash she was saving for her daughter—based on a tip that her estranged husband was dealing drugs. He wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from filing a civil forfeiture complaint in an attempt to keep Miladis’ money forever.

Miladis was incensed. She’d done nothing wrong, so she decided to fight back against the government. Without any savings, the only way she could afford an attorney was to hire one on contingency. After two years of legal wrangling and countless sleeplessness nights, she won her case. The court was finally about to rule in Miladis’ favor, so the DEA admitted that there was no evidence of a crime and agreed to give back her money, but in doing so, it refused to pay her attorneys’ fees. That meant Miladis would receive $10,000 of her money back, but the remaining $5,000 would go to her attorney, who had represented her in court.

Although the case was dismissed, Miladis decided she wasn’t done fighting until the government returned every single penny it had taken from her, including the money the government had forced her to spend on an attorney. So she petitioned the judge to award her attorneys’ fees, but he refused. The judge said that because the government had returned the money before he ruled on her case, she could not be awarded her attorneys’ fees. It did not matter that the government had waited two years. The federal appeals court agreed.

Today, Miladis has partnered with the Institute for Justice, a libertarian nutjob law firm, to bring her petition for attorneys’ fees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The threat of paying attorneys’ fees is a critical check on government abuse,” said Justin Pearson, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. “Otherwise, there is no disincentive to stop prosecutors from filing frivolous civil forfeitures against property belonging to innocent owners like Miladis.”

Pearson continued, “The government can’t take your property, keep it for years, and then suddenly give it back and pretend like nothing happened. Seizing someone’s property and forcing them to hire an attorney for two years to get it back has real costs.”

In 2000, Congress passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) which, among other things, requires the government to pay attorneys’ fees to anyone who challenges a forfeiture in court and wins. The provision was intended to provide a disincentive for the government to file baseless forfeiture lawsuits, but federal prosecutors have gamed the system. When prosecutors realize they may lose in court, they often prolong the case in hopes of forcing a settlement that will allow them to keep part of the innocent owner’s money. But if the innocent owner doesn’t give in, then the prosecutors will voluntarily return the property just before the court rules. In doing so, they deprive the owner of a “win,” and subsequently argue that without a “win,” CAFRA’s fees requirement doesn’t apply.

 

I think the "you didn't win, we gave up" argument is an obvious attempt to keep the loot despite the intent of the law.

It's also true that laws don't always fully capture the intent and a court may not be able to "fix" a law that is incomplete in that way. It says what it says and the looters have figured out a way to game what it says. The right answer seems to me to be to change the law to say that if the government gives up, that's a "win" for the person whose property was wrongfully taken.

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56 minutes ago, Plenipotentiary Tom said:

Should Looters Pay Lawyers?
 

I think the "you didn't win, we gave up" argument is an obvious attempt to keep the loot despite the intent of the law.

It's also true that laws don't always fully capture the intent and a court may not be able to "fix" a law that is incomplete in that way. It says what it says and the looters have figured out a way to game what it says. The right answer seems to me to be to change the law to say that if the government gives up, that's a "win" for the person whose property was wrongfully taken.

The problem with making them pay legal fees if they give the money back is, now they have no incentive not to fight it out in the courts and drive the costs up more.

You'd need to set the system so that if they took it to court & lost, they had to pay 2X the legal fees plus say 10% on top of the amount in dispute to concentrate their minds.

Good luck with getting that passed....

FKT

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