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FAIR Act to Reform Asset Seizure Laws


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Can the government seize untainted funds in a criminal asset forfeiture case?

 

The Supreme Court will decide.

 

 

 

The case arose during a suspected Medicare fraud case in which the government froze $45 million in assets belonging to Sila Luis, who runs health-care businesses in Florida.

 

She was indicted three years ago for alleged schemes to pay illegal kickbacks for patient referrals and to bill Medicare for unnecessary services.

 

The government claimed the businesses received about $45 million in Medicare reimbursements and sought to recover the full amount in the criminal prosecution.

 

But Rutherford said the businesses also earned at least $15 million in untainted funds from sources other than Medicare – and the government moved to take those funds as well.

 

Attorneys for Luis objected, saying the government’s decision to deprive her of her own funds too violated the Sixth Amendment. Her right to due process, they contend, would be violated by such a move.
...

One year ago, the Supreme Court affirmed that defendants do not have a right to a hearing where they can plead for permission to use the money that the government alleges is tainted. In the case, the government said it was targeting the unconnected funds because the defendant “already has spent the ill-gotten gains on luxury items and travel.”

 

Rutherford argued that if the case is not reversed, the Sixth Amendment requirement for due process, specifically the right to counsel, will be blown apart.

...

 

 

Who is right? I can see both sides. Money is fungible. Targeting money that was not connected to any illegal activity seems wrong, but who is to say that the illegal money was already spent? It could have been the legal money that was already spent.

 

In any case, the part of the article that got to me was this:

 

The government routinely confiscates the proceeds of proven illegal activity, such as drug money.

 

Complete and total BS, typical of conservative drug warriors. Say the word "drug" and all respect for property rights goes out the window. They don't even want to acknowledge the simple truth that "drug money" is seized regularly without any proof of illegal activity. All that is required is suspicion, then the seizing agency gets rewarded for their suspicion by getting to take and keep the money. The owner must prove his property innocent to get it back.

 

The purpose of using civil asset forfeiture in this way back when Bonzo's administration began expanding the use of this power was exactly what this guy is decrying now: the idea was to prevent "kingpins" from hiring a good lawyer by taking all of their assets. In other words, to undermine the sixth amendment. Now this guy wants to blame Obama for Reagan's legacy.

 

Oral arguments in this case next Tuesday.

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How the shakedown works in Michigan   Seizing cars that leave dispensaries isn't cutting off any illicit proceeds. It is, in my view, generating them for Wayne County.

Not this one.

Sure - after you're convicted in a court of law and the magistrate/judge applies a penalty they consider appropriate. Not just some law official confiscating stuff and forcing you to court to get it b

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this whole thing, which has shocked me since I was first aware of it, still blows my mind. "common law", or "precedents" set by historical cases, have absolutely no relevance as per the constitution, BOR, and the other 17 ammendments. Which throughout all of these documents repeatedly state that the government is not allowed to do exactly what it is doing, in very plain english, repeatedly. And, just because I think it bears mentioning. If you take the time to read these documents, they are not a list of laws that citizens must abide by, nor are they a list of things the government can do to its citizens. These documents outline very specifically what the government cannot do. Thats it. their only purpose is to restrict the government. The tenth ammendment sums that up by saying that, if you have kept reading this far, now you know what you can't do, if you have a question about anything, the answer is no, you can't do it. I would wager that not a day goes by that the tenth is not shit on

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this whole topic being an excellent example of a violation of the tenth ammendment. If the federal government can't find where the constition specifically states they can confiscate private citizens posessions, then they are not allowed to do it. Its all in very plain english....

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this whole thing, which has shocked me since I was first aware of it, still blows my mind. "common law", or "precedents" set by historical cases, have absolutely no relevance as per the constitution, BOR, and the other 17 ammendments. ...

 

You're wrong about this. The phrase "common law" even made it into the Bill of Rights.

 

For further reading

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Glad you enjoyed it.

 

As for civil asset forfeiture, it's very old and well-established and probably won't go away so the best we can hope for is to curb abuses of it and incentives for abuse. The best way to do that is to end our stupid drug war since that's been the "justification" for the abuses ever since Saint Ronald decided it would be a good way to achieve the impossible dream of making prohibition work.

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I don't expect it to go away, but it sure is a load of crap. I fully agree that taking away the incentives would be a huge step in the right direction. Why steal if you will not gain anything from it. seems fairly straightforward. Your link has got me doing a whole bunch of reading that I haven't done in a while. entertainment for days

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Looks like the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated unless they were asking for it.

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  • 1 month later...

Police can already confiscate cars or pretty much anything they want and sell it even if the owner broke no law. The car needn't kill anyone. Hell, the car can be parked. Happens every day and it's for your protection so you should be thankful. It's called civil asset forfeiture, aka them stealing your stuff. It's for your protection of course.

 

Dunno if they can confiscate guns.

 

 

I'm not thankful for theft.

 

Yes, guns are subject to forfeiture laws.

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DOJ Temporarily Suspends Equitable Sharing Payments to State & Local Govts

 

Temporarily ruining the game under which state laws that prohibit seizing agencies from keeping the loot they take are circumvented by running the loot through the fedgov, which takes a cut and gives the rest back to the seizing agency.

 

I'm glad to see at least a partial and temporary end to the incentive for govt agencies to seize property from people who have not been convicted of any crime.

 

The move comes after Congress recently took $1.2 billion from the department's asset forfeiture fund as part of budget maneuvering.

 

 

Replacing the incentive to loot by lower level governments with an incentive to loot by the federal govt is not a great change.

 

Justice Department officials say they remain committed to the program and are not shutting it down but that, at least temporarily, they do not have the money to pay police departments out of the fund.

 

 

The DoJ might remain committed but "we might pay you later if Congress doesn't grab the money first" is not going to be much incentive for lower governments to continue seizing property from people who have not been convicted of any crime. So at least that much of the story is good news.

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Happy New Year: ..."The value of property that police departments seized through civil-asset forfeiture — usually without accusing, let alone convicting, the property owners of a crime — exceeded the value of property stolen by nongovernment burglars."

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/429091/2015-year-review-foolishness-list

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Happy New Year: ..."The value of property that police departments seized through civil-asset forfeiture — usually without accusing, let alone convicting, the property owners of a crime — exceeded the value of property stolen by nongovernment burglars."

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/429091/2015-year-review-foolishness-list

 

Pretty good rant. The rest of that paragraph:

 

...The attorney general of New York, which reaps billions from gambling — casinos, off-track betting, the state lottery — moved to extinguish (competition from) fantasy football because it is gambling. Florida police raided a mahjong game played by four women aged between 87 and 95 because their game’s stakes allegedly exceeded the $10 limit set by state law. A Michigan woman was fingerprinted, had her mug shot taken, and was jailed until released on bond because she was late in renewing the $10 license for her dog. New Jersey police arrested a 72-year-old retired teacher, chained his hands and feet to a bench, and charged him with illegally carrying a firearm — a 300-year-old flintlock pistol (with no powder, flint, or ball) he purchased from an antique dealer.

 

Sometimes you have to wonder whether the Libertarian Party has secret operatives scattered throughout government to create these stories. ;)

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  • 1 month later...

 

The IRS doesn't seem to want publicity about the Lyndon McLellan case, so it's good that Dabnis started a thread about it.

 

I think I'll go share this in a few other places...

 

...

“This case demonstrates that the federal government’s recent reforms are riddled with loopholes and exceptions and fundamentally fail to protect Americans’ basic rights,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Robert Everett Johnson, who represents Lyndon. “No American should have his property taken by the government without first being convicted of a crime.”

 

In February 2015, during a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee, North Carolina Congressman George Holding told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that he had reviewed Lyndon’s case—without specifically naming it—and that there was no allegation of the kind of illegal activity required by the IRS’s new policy. The IRS Commissioner responded, “If that cases exists, then it’s not following the policy.”

 

Watch the exchange here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16aYGRoswWw

 

When news of the IRS Commissioner’s statement got back to the United States Attorney in charge of Lyndon’s case, he advised Lyndon’s attorney and accountant that he was “concerned” that Lyndon’s case document was provided to Congress, and that:

 

Whoever made [the document] public may serve their own interest but will not help this particular case. Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it. But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency. My offer is to return 50% of the money. The offer is good until March 30th COB.

...

 

 

The government will have to give Mr. McLellan his money back, along with interest and legal fees.

 

First the feds stole $107,000 from Lyndon McLellan, saying his bank deposits of money from his North Carolina convenience store were suspiciously small, as if he were trying to avoid the reporting requirement for transactions involving $10,000 or more. Then the feds refused to return the money, even after the IRS and the Justice Department announced that they would no longer pursue such "structuring" cases unless they involved proceeds of illegal activity. Offering to return half the money last March, a federal prosecutor warned McLellan's lawyer that calling public attention to the case would only make the government less inclined to reach a settlement. Two months later, the feds finally agreed to give McLellan his money back but without interest and without compensating him for the $22,000 he had paid his lawyer and a forensic accountant before the Institute for Justice took the case pro bono. This week a federal judge completed McLellan's vindication by dismissing the forfeiture case with prejudice, making him eligible to recover his costs and the interest on his purloined savings under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA).

 

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  • 1 month later...

Florida is one step closer to ending policing for profit

 

Today, the Florida House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of SB 1044, a major overhaul of the state’s civil forfeiture laws. The bill, which unanimously passed the State Senate on Friday, creates transparency requirements and a long list of new protections for property owners. The bill will head to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.

 

 

The big ones are the change in the standard of evidence and the requirement that someone be arrested.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Florida Reins In Policing For Profit

 

Today, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 1044 into law, which enacts a significant overhaul of the state’s civil forfeiture laws. The bill, which unanimously passed both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives, creates transparency requirements and a long list of new protections for property owners.

 

 

Unanimous.

 

The police and prison lobbie$ are really slipping.

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  • 3 weeks later...

More Legalized Theft By Government

 

...The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has been investigating the use of civil forfeiture in the state. Brady Henderson, the group's legal director, said in an interview that Oklahoma law enforcement agencies often focus their efforts on the routes where cash from drug transactions typically travels, rather than the routes the drugs themselves travel.

 

In looking at the data of forfeitures along Interstate 40, which runs east to west through the state, "we definitely see a huge disparity of folks on those interstates focusing on the westbound travel, which tends to be the money here in Oklahoma," Henderson said.

 

In essence, he says, authorities are letting the drugs get to their destinations and be sold and used so that police can grab the money from the drug sales on the return trip. This mirrors the behavior that watchdog groups and news organizations have observed in other states, such as Tennessee.

 

"If the whole notion is that drugs are destructive, that they hurt people, why are we letting the drugs hurt people?" he asked....

 

 

The answer to his question is obvious: if they seize drugs, the drugs are destroyed and the department gets nothing. If they seize cash, they get cash.

 

Incentives matter and our stupid drug war has created the worst ones imaginable.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Rather than continuing to hijack the Aussie Slingshot Control thread, I decided to bring this here:

 

 

If you have a person whose crime you can't prove, you have a not proven allegation, not a lucky criminal. Cause actually proof is fundamental.

Seizing someone's property is, of course a punishment. But the right to prove that that property is not the result of criminal activity is not diminished.
A person paying for their defence with their proceeds of crime seems to be self defeating, does it not?

 

I just don't believe in punishing people who have not been proven guilty of anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

I don't want a right to prove that my property is innocent. I want the government to prove that I'm guilty before taking it.

 

Your last question is the argument always used by drug warriors to justify this policy since Saint Ronald started expanding its use in the 1980s. The question implies that the law is actually used to go after big time drug dealers and the like. Read this thread if you have not. You'll learn that the targets used to justify the law and the actual people who have their stuff taken are very, very rarely the same people.

 

Anyway, how do you know we're talking about the "proceeds of a crime" in the first place? We are discussing the seizure of property from people who have not been convicted of any crime at all. So my question would be: what crime?

 

The one the government suspects, but didn't prove is the answer. I think it's a bad answer, especially in light of the "equitable sharing" programs in both of our countries that give law enforcement a financial incentive to be suspicious.

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  • 2 weeks later...

IRS Returns Seized Money After 3 Years

 

...the IRS refused to believe Vocatura’s Bakery was operating on the up and up. Agents said the business raised red flags because of a series of cash deposits in sums under $10,000, the amount at which banks are required to report transactions to the federal government. They said this behavior was consistent with a crime known as structuring, which the IRS defines as making calculated financial transactions in order to skirt reporting requirements. The agents had no evidence of other wrongdoing, but thanks to a controversial law enforcement tool known as civil asset forfeiture, they didn’t need any to seize every penny in the Vocaturas’ bank account: $68,382.22.

 

...

 

On Tuesday, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on behalf of Vocatura’s Bakery, demanding that the IRS promptly return their money. The suit argued that the Vocaturas were just the latest example of the government hastily seizing property, and then going to extreme and even unconstitutional lengths to justify it after the fact.

 

Hours after the suit was filed, the IRS said it would finally give the Vocaturas their money back. But the prosecutor didn’t drop the case. Instead, he now plans to mount an expansive investigation into the bakery’s finances, looking for a reason to bring criminal charges against the brothers.

...

 

 

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.

 

This thread is littered with small businesses that are similarly situated but the larger story is all the ones who don't manage to attract the attention of the Institute for Justice. The ones who never get their money back. The ones who are the real reasons this policy persists even though the IRS dropping this one like a hot potato shows just how politically defensible it is.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Visit the FAIR thread sometime then. It shows how anonymous allegations create suspicion and how that leads to seizure of property, which the owner must then prove innocent.

 

I like my property. I don't want to have to prove it innocent because some fucktard thinks he's funny. I have patience for lots of things around here but allegations of criminal activity can have real consequences.

How could that be Tom? After all you have spent countless hours telling us how superior the US is because your rights are protected. Oh my god! could it be that you are full of shit?

 

 

It can be because we have drug warriors who want to profit from prohibition and because people like me virtually never actually get elected so our senseless drug war continues.

 

I haven't spent any hours telling anyone how the US is superior because our rights are protected.

 

I have spent a little time explaining to you that, despite your delusions of greater protections in Aus, you also have a senseless drug war that also features civil asset forfeiture for those without a criminal conviction. After realizing you were full of shit in saying your country is superior, you dropped it.

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It can be because we have drug warriors who want to profit from prohibition and because people like me virtually never actually get elected so our senseless drug war continues.

 

People like you running for election would be fucking funny. Just imagine the campaign debates!

 

Q: "Mr Tom Ray, the unemployment rate has spiked in recent months - what as President would you do about it?"

A: "Scalia talked about the rights of the pre$$, firearms in self defence, and the fourth amendment. Let me recount the ways..."

 

Q: "I'm sorry, that's really not the point. But we're out of time any way. Would you like to leave the nation with any last words before we finish this?"

A: "Favre! P.S. Tools"

 

Tom Ray and Vermin Supreme, running in an election near you! :D

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It can be because we have drug warriors who want to profit from prohibition and because people like me virtually never actually get elected so our senseless drug war continues.

 

People like you running for election would be fucking funny. Just imagine the campaign debates!

 

Q: "Mr Tom Ray, the unemployment rate has spiked in recent months - what as President would you do about it?"

A: "Nothing."

 

...

 

It is too easy to imagine a journalist who thinks managing the unemployment rate is something a President should try to do.

 

I corrected your post to show what my actual answer would be.

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It can be because we have drug warriors who want to profit from prohibition and because people like me virtually never actually get elected so our senseless drug war continues.

 

People like you running for election would be fucking funny. Just imagine the campaign debates!

 

Q: "Mr Tom Ray, the unemployment rate has spiked in recent months - what as President would you do about it?"

A: "Nothing."

 

...

 

It is too easy to imagine a journalist who thinks managing the unemployment rate is something a President should try to do.

 

I corrected your post to show what my actual answer would be.

 

And that is why "people like you" would not get elected.

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Yeah, I know. People want to think that a President can just declare prosperity. Throwing cold water on that delusion is not a path to election but I still can't bring myself to embrace the delusion.

 

Any thoughts on the thread topic or any topic unrelated to me personally?

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Yeah, I know. People want to think that a President can just declare prosperity. Throwing cold water on that delusion is not a path to election but I still can't bring myself to embrace the delusion.

 

Any thoughts on the thread topic or any topic unrelated to me personally?

All threads lead to Favre.

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Yeah, I know. People want to think that a President can just declare prosperity. Throwing cold water on that delusion is not a path to election but I still can't bring myself to embrace the delusion.

Imagine the question was whether you as President would "just declare prosperity". Sorry to throw cold water on that delusion, but that wasn't what I wrote.

 

Any thoughts on the thread topic or any topic unrelated to me personally?

A couple, but I long since learnt that you're not interested in what the rest of us think, only what you can turn into one of your well-worn and somewhat tedious rants. So I'll leave my contribution here to the humorous aside about "people like you" running for president.

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No need to carry heavy cash around with you now - cops can now lift money off any gift cards, or pre-payed credit cards you have. Saves everyone time and effort.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/08/cops_can_skim_your_cards/

Umm hmmm. This legacy of Saint Ronald's expansion of the drug war is darn hard to kill because of the profit involved for government.

 

"We're gonna look for different factors in the way that you're acting," he said. "We're gonna look for if there's a difference in your story; if there's some way that we can prove that you're falsifying information to us about your business. I know that a lot of people are just going to focus on the seizing money. That's a very small thing that's happening now."

...

State Senator Kyle Loveless (R-OK) has promised new legislation to require that police obtain a conviction before taking funds. He said he has had multiple reports of police abusing their powers for profit.

 

 

Yeah, it's a "very small thing" right up until someone starts talking about shutting off the cash flow. Then it becomes a big thing.

 

I'm not "just going to focus on seizing the money" because I have no problem with seizing money from criminals. I'm going to focus on the standard used to seize the money: the suspicion of one officer whose agency benefits if he is suspicious but loses money if he is not.

 

If Senator Kyle is successful, Lt Vincent will no longer have to complain about annoying people looking at where that money is coming from and why.

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OHP Uses New Device To Seize Money During Traffic Stops

http://www.news9.com/story/32168555/ohp-uses-new-device-to-seize-money-used-during-the-commission-of-a-crime

 

You may have heard of civil asset forfeiture.

 

That's where police can seize property and cash without first proving a person committed a crime; without a warrant and without arresting them, as long as they suspect that the property is somehow tied to a crime.

 

Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money on prepaid cards.

 

It's called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and OHP began using 16 of them last month.

 

Here's how it works. If a trooper suspects a person may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan and seize money from prepaid cards. OHP stresses troopers do not do this during all traffic stops, only situations where they believe there is probable cause.

 

"We're gonna look for different factors in the way that you're acting,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said. “We're gonna look for if there's a difference in your story. If there's someway that we can prove that you're falsifying information to us about your business."

 

Troopers insist this isn't just about seizing cash.

...

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OHP Uses New Device To Seize Money During Traffic Stops

http://www.news9.com/story/32168555/ohp-uses-new-device-to-seize-money-used-during-the-commission-of-a-crime

 

You may have heard of civil asset forfeiture.

 

That's where police can seize property and cash without first proving a person committed a crime; without a warrant and without arresting them, as long as they suspect that the property is somehow tied to a crime.

 

Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money on prepaid cards.

 

It's called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and OHP began using 16 of them last month.

 

Here's how it works. If a trooper suspects a person may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan and seize money from prepaid cards. OHP stresses troopers do not do this during all traffic stops, only situations where they believe there is probable cause.

 

"We're gonna look for different factors in the way that you're acting,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said. “We're gonna look for if there's a difference in your story. If there's someway that we can prove that you're falsifying information to us about your business."

 

Troopers insist this isn't just about seizing cash.

...

 

Cash is soo passe'.

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Cash is soo passe'.

 

 

I think the smartest thing the Bitcoin people could do would be to buy a whole bunch of these scanners for police departments everywhere.

 

Don't want the police to seize your money and then demand you prove it innocent? Get different money and don't give them your password. Problem SOLved.

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  • 2 months later...

A Step Forward In California

 

The bill is back this session and a newly announced compromise has law enforcement officials finally dropping their objections. It appears to be a pretty good compromise when you look at the worst of the law enforcement abuses. Police say they use civil asset forfeiture to target big drug dealers, but the reality is that many asset forfeitures are for smaller amounts in the thousands, often from poor people who cannot afford the costs to fight back. This compromise will require that police will have to get convictions for underlying crimes and prove that the property was connected to crime—but only for total assets that are valued at less than $40,000.

 

For assets over $40,000 the looser evidentiary standard of "clear and convincing evidence" applies and criminal conviction will not be required. This still seems clear a violation of the property rights and due process of people who pass the threshold, but it is nevertheless still an improvement on what currently exists.

 

As for the ability for law enforcement agencies to bypass the state and go to the feds, the same rules apply. In order to seize property under $40,000, even when participating in a joint investigation with a federal agency, an underlying criminal conviction will be required. It does not forbid law enforcement agencies from participating in joint operations with federal law enforcement or even using the federal "equitable sharing" asset forfeiture program; it requires that there be an underlying conviction before they can receive payment from the federal program for property valued at less than $40,000.

 

 

I think a criminal conviction should be required in every case but at least requiring it sometimes is a bit better than never requiring it.

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DEA Chasing Cash

 

...Of the 87 cases USA TODAY identified in which the DEA seized cash after flagging a suspicious itinerary, only two resulted in the alleged courier being charged with a crime.

 

...

 

“We want the cash. Good agents chase cash,” said George Hood, who supervised a drug task force assigned to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago before he retired in 2007. “It was just easier to get the asset, and that’s where you make a dent in the criminal organization.”

 

 

Those criminal organizations must have more dents than my old truck. Which also still works just fine, btw.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Albuquerque Being Sued For Ignoring Asset Forfeiture Reform Law

 

Albuquerque resident Arlene Harjo, 56, is paying off a loan for a car she doesn't have, because the city seized it for a crime it readily admits she didn't commit, under an asset forfeiture program that is supposed to be banned.

 

...

 

...Harada has said in the past that "about half of the vehicles that APD seizes are not owned by the offender that we confiscate it from. It's the mothers, the fathers, the wives, the girlfriends, the brothers, the uncles, the next door neighbor, and the stranger on the street."

 

Harada refused to release the car, and Harjo challenged the seizure in district court, which was the only reason she came onto the Institute for Justice's radar.

 

If Harjo had settled, the money would have gone to pay for the salaries of prosecutors and police who administer the DWI seizure program. Groups like the Institute for Justice argue those sort of perverse incentives are one of the worst aspects of civil asset forfeiture, driving police departments to go fishing for seizures.

 

 

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Trump wants to use asset forfeiture to fund the stupid wall

 

The plan would uniquely incentivize both nations to ramp up efforts to degrade and destroy the illegal drug trafficking market.

 

 

Because bureaucracies everywhere just love to cut off their funding sources.

 

The incentives will be the same as always: to seize more property regardless of the guilt or innocence of the owners.

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Trump wants to use asset forfeiture to fund the stupid wall

 

The plan would uniquely incentivize both nations to ramp up efforts to degrade and destroy the illegal drug trafficking market.

 

 

Because bureaucracies everywhere just love to cut off their funding sources.

 

The incentives will be the same as always: to seize more property regardless of the guilt or innocence of the owners.

 

Nobody ever accused Trump of being a libertarian or a constitutionalist. :ph34r:

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  • 3 weeks later...

NYPD Can't Account For Seized Property

 

Their antiquated 2012 computer system would crash if they tried!

 

At the hearing, the NYPD claimed that it only legally forfeited $11,653 in currency last year — that is, gone to court and actually made a case as to why the NYPD should be taking this money. The NYPD then went on to explain that an annual accounting of the full amount of money the department had seized, but not pursued civil forfeiture, would be technologically impossible. NYPD officials referred to the Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) as antiquated, even though it was only put in place in 2012. At the time, the NYPD was proud enough of the new tracking system that it entered it in technology competitions and claimed that it provided “the cradle-to-grave life cycle of property and evidence... visible upon demand."

 

In the accounting summaries which the Bronx Defenders submitted as part of its testimony, the NYPD reports that as of December 2013, its property clerk had almost $69 million in seized cash on hand. This amount had been carried over from previous years, showing an annual accumulation of seized cash that has reached an enormous amount. The documents also show that each month, the five property clerk’s offices across the city took in tens of thousands of dollars in cash, ultimately generating over $6 million in revenue for the department. The report that the NYPD released appears to have been generated through the same use of their database that the department now claims is technologically impossible.

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

You didn't say "Simon says"

 

The Platts soon received a letter in the mail from the Navajo County Attorney's Office informing them they only had 30 days to send a petition to the county attorney or file a challenge in court. If they did neither, their car would be summarily forfeited.

 

Daunted by the likely attorney fees, the Platts sent a handwritten petition under the deadline to the attorney's office. However, the Navajo County Attorney's Office filed an application in county court for an uncontested forfeiture of the car, declaring the Platts' petition "null and void." According to the Institute for Justice, the attorney's office never submitted the Platts' petition to the court or explained why it was rejected.

 

Responding to the Platts' lawsuit, the Navajo County Attorney's Office then filed a motion arguing their petition was invalid because they had neglected to include the words "under penalty of perjury" with their signatures.

 

"The implication of the State's argument is breathtaking," the Institute for Justice shot back in a counter-motion. "The State is arguing that this Court cannot review the legality of the State's actions here—actions taken under a profit incentive to take property for forfeiture—and the Court must ignore Terry and Ria's attempts to invoke judicial review of the State's decision to ignore Terry and Ria's June 28 pro se Petition."

 

The Institute for Justice also argues the small amount of marijuana found in the Platts' car was well below the two-pound threshold for a drug felony in Arizona, making the seizure of the cash and car illegal in the first place.

 

 

So if you forget (or don't know) to put the magic words on your petition, the response is to simply ignore it and keep the car? No opportunity to correct it?

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A Step Forward In California

 

The bill is back this session and a newly announced compromise has law enforcement officials finally dropping their objections. It appears to be a pretty good compromise when you look at the worst of the law enforcement abuses. Police say they use civil asset forfeiture to target big drug dealers, but the reality is that many asset forfeitures are for smaller amounts in the thousands, often from poor people who cannot afford the costs to fight back. This compromise will require that police will have to get convictions for underlying crimes and prove that the property was connected to crime—but only for total assets that are valued at less than $40,000.

 

For assets over $40,000 the looser evidentiary standard of "clear and convincing evidence" applies and criminal conviction will not be required. This still seems clear a violation of the property rights and due process of people who pass the threshold, but it is nevertheless still an improvement on what currently exists.

 

As for the ability for law enforcement agencies to bypass the state and go to the feds, the same rules apply. In order to seize property under $40,000, even when participating in a joint investigation with a federal agency, an underlying criminal conviction will be required. It does not forbid law enforcement agencies from participating in joint operations with federal law enforcement or even using the federal "equitable sharing" asset forfeiture program; it requires that there be an underlying conviction before they can receive payment from the federal program for property valued at less than $40,000.

 

 

I think a criminal conviction should be required in every case but at least requiring it sometimes is a bit better than never requiring it.

 

That's not working out so well.

 

San Diego Police Seize Family's Bank Accounts

 

"Just imagine what it's like when you're a 57-year-old business man with three kids and a house, and supporting elderly parents, and all the sudden all your money is gone," Slatic says in an interview with Reason. "It's disappeared. Your car payment bounces, your insurance doesn't go through."

The Slatics' crimes? None. Or at least, the San Diego District Attorney's Office hasn't charged them with any in the nine months since it seized their accounts.

 

...

 

Slatic says he worked with the city to obtain all the necessary permits for his business, which refined marijuana oils for use in vaporizers and topical ointments. He is also politically involved in California's marijuana regulations and served on the boards of the Marijuana Policy Project and the California Cannabis Industry Association

 

"I had heard of [asset forfeiture] before but naively thought it was for people who don't pay their taxes or some other tawdry thing, not people who create jobs and pay taxes and are involved in the political process," Slatic says. "I didn't consider myself to be a potential target, but I was wrong."

 

...

 

Earlier this year, the California legislature also passed an asset forfeiture reform bill that requires a criminal conviction for prosecutors to seize under $40,000 from someone, which would have protected Slatic's wife and daughters from having their bank accounts frozen. The law goes into effect in January.

 

As it so happens, Slatic worked to get that legislation passed. He says the $40,000 cap was added to the bill at the last minute at the insistence of law enforcement groups, who said it was needed to preserve their abilities to go after cartels and large criminal organizations.

 

Now, even if the law applies retroactively, it won't protect Slatic.

 

"We either capped it or weren't going to get passage, so we took it," Slatic says. "It was better than nothing, but once again [law enforcement] kept their hand in the cookie jar. It has nothing to do with cartels, it just gave them the ability to go after bigger companies like mine."

 

 

At least Mr. Slatic now gets the picture: even if you think it can only happen to someone else, protecting their rights might just be a good idea. Because unless your name appears as a specific exemption to the law, it can happen to you.

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Interesting. Here's a thread with Pooplius talking to himself.

Most of the thread is Tom posts, responding to other Tom posts.

 

Sad but true. Apparently, only my posts about guns are visible to the general community. Not sure how the technology works.

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Tom, FWIW, we are aligned on this topic. When enforcement authorities can benefit from enforcement, the will enforcement to provide the maximum benefit.

 

Thanks, A Guy. How did you slip past the "gun posts only" screen?

 

The truth is, the drug warrior position has not been all that politically popular since the 1980's. People initially bought into the "we'll only use it against major dealers" crap but have learned better, many though hard experience.

 

The other truth is, it doesn't matter. We re-elected the same Congress and people like Rand Paul who would pass reforms like the FAIR Act are as popular as ever with that crowd.

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Jeff Sessions: Champion of Forfeiture

Enter Sessions. Midway through the committee hearing, he declared that he was “very unhappy” with criticism of civil forfeiture, because in his view “taking and seizing and forfeiting, through a government judicial process, illegal gains from criminal enterprises is not wrong.” Apparently drawing a number from thin air, Sessions announced “95 percent” of forfeitures involve people who have “done nothing in their lives but sell dope.”

Now, nobody disputes that government needs the power to punish criminal behavior. But first things first: Before government labels someone a “criminal,” it has to secure a criminal conviction. The fact of the matter is, we have no way to know what portion of civil forfeitures involve genuine “criminals,” as the whole point of civil forfeiture is that government can take property without convicting or even charging anyone with a crime.

If Sessions is correct that civil forfeiture reliably targets criminals, the government should have no trouble proceeding under the criminal law.

But, Sessions asserted, it would be "unthinkable that we would make it harder for the government to take money from a drug dealer than it is for a businessperson to defend themselves in a lawsuit." Thus, Sessions believes when government wants to take property allegedly involved in a crime, it “should not have a burden of proof higher than a normal civil case.”

 


Proving a crime before punishing it is unthinkable! Punish first! Prove later! Or never!

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College Student To Get His $11k Back With Interest

 

To take the money, the cops needed only probable cause to believe it was connected to illegal drug activity in some way; they did not even have to specify how. The forfeiture complaint was, as usual in such cases, maddeningly vague, claiming the money "was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for controlled substances, was proceeds traceable to such an exchange, or was intended to be used to facilitate the illegal sale of narcotics." Although the cops found no drugs in Clarke's bags or on his person and did not charge him with a crime, the pot smell and the large amount of cash were enough to make the money disappear.

To keep the money, the government theoretically had to show that it more likely than not came from selling drugs or was intended to buy them. But that burden applied only if Clarke had the means to challenge the forfeiture once the government had taken his savings. Innocent owners often find that standing up for their rights costs more than the value of the property they are trying to get back. Luckily for Clarke, he had the Institute for Justice in his corner.

 

 

I applaud the Institute for Justice for righting these wrongs one at a time but until we get rid of the incentives for law enforcement to seize property, we'll continue to see an unending stream of them, most of which won't catch the attention of IJ.

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I hadn't heard of this one:

 

Due Process Act

 

Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by voice vote H.R. 5283, the Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights of Citizens from Excessive Searches and Seizures Act of 2016 (Due Process Act) to strengthen protections for Americans’ property through civil asset forfeiture reform.

 

 

"Deterring Undue Enforcement" is pretty good. These bill names are one of the few creative things our government does pretty well. You try to turn "Due Process" into an acronym and have it make any kind of sense!

 

There was consternation among local law enforcement in January after the U.S. Department of Justice suspended equitable-sharing payments to local police agencies. But payments resumed in March, and observers expect many agencies may be emboldened going forward.

 

The incoming president’s choice for attorney general – Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama – supports civil asset forfeiture and opposes reform. Police groups across the country said it’s an important law enforcement tool, Sessions told The Washington Post, and ending the sharing of seized cash with local departments “would be a huge detriment to law enforcement.”

 

 

If the futile effort to take the profit out of the black market is really the goal, where the seized cash goes should make little difference. Whatever the police need, and nothing more, should be funded through taxation, not property seizure proceeds.

 

And not anything else, I might add. In tool-related news, Ohio's proposed new concealed carry law gives sheriffs the proceeds from CWP application fees. Sheriffs should not have an incentive to give out permits, nor should they have an incentive to seize property. It's really simple: whatever the police need, and nothing more, should be funded through taxation.

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Institute for Justice Sues Border Patrol and IRS

 

What makes the IRS and CBP's opacity so, well, transparent is that the Institute says the Justice Department handed over records from its asset forfeiture database in just three months—a mere blink of an eye in federal government time—and at no cost.

 

Yet, when the Institute for Justice submitted a FOIA request in March of last year to the IRS for records from its Asset Forfeiture Tracking and Retrieval System (AFTRAK) database, the agency responded six months later, saying it would charge $753,760 for the Institute to see the documents.

 

The IRS rejected the Institute for Justice's application for a FOIA fee-waiver, which are available to nonprofit groups and media working in the public interest. In its lawsuit, the Institute argues it is entitled by statute, as a nonprofit organization, to a fee-waiver, and that the IRS estimate of labor and costs to complete the request are wildly overblown.

 

Meanwhile, CBP rejected the Institute's March 2015 request for records from its Seized Asset and Case Tracking System (SEACATS) altogether, first claiming the request was "overbroad" and then that the entire database was categorically exempt from public records requests because it contains law enforcement techniques and procedures.

 

In its lawsuit against CBP, the Institute for Justice says the CBP's claims are "implausible and improper." The database, it says, contains things like the type, value, and date of seizures, not sensitive law enforcement information.

...

 

 

I wonder why the IRS thinks that the Institute for Justice is not entitled to the fee waiver? They seem to be working in the public interest to me.

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Tom has very high standards of behavior. He is truly a cut above.

He is the One_Limit_Shootah. No court system needed.

Tom's civics ensure domestic tranquility.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jeff Sessions: Champion of Forfeiture

 

 

Enter Sessions. Midway through the committee hearing, he declared that he was “very unhappy” with criticism of civil forfeiture, because in his view “taking and seizing and forfeiting, through a government judicial process, illegal gains from criminal enterprises is not wrong.” Apparently drawing a number from thin air, Sessions announced “95 percent” of forfeitures involve people who have “done nothing in their lives but sell dope.”

Now, nobody disputes that government needs the power to punish criminal behavior. But first things first: Before government labels someone a “criminal,” it has to secure a criminal conviction. The fact of the matter is, we have no way to know what portion of civil forfeitures involve genuine “criminals,” as the whole point of civil forfeiture is that government can take property without convicting or even charging anyone with a crime.

If Sessions is correct that civil forfeiture reliably targets criminals, the government should have no trouble proceeding under the criminal law.

But, Sessions asserted, it would be "unthinkable that we would make it harder for the government to take money from a drug dealer than it is for a businessperson to defend themselves in a lawsuit." Thus, Sessions believes when government wants to take property allegedly involved in a crime, it “should not have a burden of proof higher than a normal civil case.”

 

 

Proving a crime before punishing it is unthinkable! Punish first! Prove later! Or never!

 

Looks like George Will found that article and wants the Senate to ask Sessions about policing for profit.

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Fraternal Order of Police President Wants To Keep Policing For Profit

 

The program has been remarkably successful at separating people from their money and property without charging them with a crime. How could anyone dislike something so wonderful? He's very confused by that question.

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It's easy to mistake asset forfeiture proceedings for extortion

 

"This is because most Agreed Orders are entered into upon a settlement agreement in which the arresting authority receives some or all of the forfeited property as a condition subsequent to some sort of an agreement made between the arresting party and the defendant," Baker continued. "As the arresting party often seizes a large amount of property or cash and many of these Agreed Orders stipulate that some of most of the said property or cash will be returned while some will be forfeited, a reasonable person might assume that the arresting party is using its authority to gain assets from an arrest by settling with the defendant."

 

Put more simply, a reasonable person might assume he or she is being extorted.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Transcript shows Trump has zero understanding of civil asset forfeiture

 

Even though Aubrey talks about "tak[ing] money from dope dealers" and Boente refers to "narcotics proceeds and other proceeds of crime," Trump initially seems to think asset forfeiture is what happens when police seize "a huge stash of drugs." He is puzzled that anyone would say the cops should return a pile of cocaine or heroin to a drug dealer, because "you would think they'd want this stuff taken away."

 

Eventually Trump seems to get that it's money (or other assets) the cops are taking, but he still assumes it's money lying next to a huge stash of drugs—as opposed to, say, the savings of a hapless college student, the winnings of innocent poker players, or the bank account of a convenience store owner whose deposits the IRS deemed suspiciously small. Trump is baffled as to why anyone would want to stop the cops from taking drug dealers' profits.

 

Aubrey and Boente, who obviously know better, are not about to enlighten Trump, since they both have a financial interest in promoting forfeiture, which helps fund their budgets. Aubrey leaves the impression that it's only bad guys who lose their property, saying anyone who claims otherwise is just "mak[ing] up stories." Boente leaves the reasons for the "pressure" and "criticism" utterly mysterious. And when Trump asks a roomful of cops and prosecutors if they "even understand the other side of it," it is hardly surprising that no one pipes up to explain the critics' arguments. By the time Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold Eavenson mentions a state senator "who was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive their forfeiture," Trump is automatically outraged: "Can you believe that?" It's the greedy leading the blind.

 

Jeff Sessions, who yesterday was confirmed as Trump's attorney general, is not likely to fill the gaps in the president's understanding of forfeiture. Sessions, a former U.S. attorney, is an old-fashioned drug warrior and forfeiture fan who sees no reason to restrain the practice.

 

 

Almost everyone, left and right, was pretty much like Trump back when Reagan decided to expand forfeiture abuse in the drug war and libertarians first started to complain about it.

 

Now people who are ignorant of the abuses are more rare and even some old drug warriors have come around over the years. Guns.

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Rand Paul Explains That Asset Forfeiture Is Important. Sometimes.

 

So how does Paul explain the apparent discrepancy between opposing President Barack Obama's nominee Loretta Lynch over concerns about civil asset forfeiture, and then voting for a guy who is equally wretched on the same issue?

 

 

Not very convincingly, that's how. "At least he won't kill you."

 

That's nice and everything, but... Guns.

 

rand-AG-comment.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

SCOTUS refused to hear an asset forfeiture abuse case today


The Supreme Court offered no explanation today for its refusal to hear the case of Lisa Olivia Leonard v. Texas. But one member of the Court did speak up. In a statement respecting the denial of certiorari in the case, Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear that he believes the current state of civil asset forfeiture law is fundamentally unconstitutional.

"This system—where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use—has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses," Thomas declared.

 

Thomas once again shows why he's our best SCOTUS Justice. Guns.

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I didn't notice this article in January but it came to my attention today.

 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill today that will require a criminal conviction before law enforcement can permanently confiscate property for many civil forfeiture cases. Only 11 other states have similar or stricter requirements.

 

 

They even closed the "equitable sharing" loophole. Hat tip to the govt of Ohio.

 

The law will continue to allow seizures of property in excess of $15,000 without a conviction, which is worse than California's $40k limit mentioned above.

 

The law enforcement lobby says these limits must be put in place so that they can "go after" drug cartels. I guess "going after" them shouldn't include convictions in their view. Guns.

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New Inspector General Report Identifies The Problem

 

"When seizure and administrative forfeitures do not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution," the Inspector General warned.

 

...

 

"We found that different task force officers made different decisions in similar situations when deciding whether to seize all of the cash discovered," the Inspector General wrote.

 

"These differences demonstrate how seizure decisions can appear arbitrary, which should be a concern for the Department, both because of potentially improper conduct and because even the appearance of arbitrary decision-making in asset seizure can fuel public perception that law enforcement is not using this authority legitimately, thereby undermining public confidence in law enforcement."

 

Most of these types of seizures are never challenged. The Inspector General found petitions were filed in only 20 percent of DEA cash seizures, but of those, 40 percent saw money fully or partially returned to the owner, indicating that there may be a significant amount of unfounded seizures that go unchallenged.

 

The Inspector General recommended the Justice Department collect data to evaluate whether asset forfeitures and seizures advance criminal investigations, which it currently does not do.

 

In a written response to the Inspector General included in the report, the Justice Department's Criminal Division disputed both the report's findings and methodology. It maintains that civil asset forfeiture is "a critical tool to fight the current heroin and opioid epidemic that is raging in the United States."

 

 

A critical tool but no one cares whether criminal investigations are advanced. That makes it a critical and arbitrary tax. Guns.

 

 

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Hat Tip To Jim Sensenbrenner

 

And his 15 cosponsors. Guns.

 

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who last week reintroduced a bill aimed at curtailing civil forfeiture abuses. As Sensenbrenner observed, "These abuses threaten citizens' Constitutional rights, put unnecessary burdens on innocent Americans, and weaken our faith in law enforcement."

 

...

 

Sensenbrenner's bill—which has 15 cosponsors, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and six other Republicans—would help forfeiture victims like Clarke by allowing them to recover attorney's fees after a settlement and providing legal representation for those who cannot afford it. Instead of requiring owners to prove their innocence (as the law currently demands), the bill would require the government to disprove it (as in a criminal trial). The bill also would increase the burden of proof in forfeiture trials from "preponderance of the evidence" to "clear and convincing evidence."

 

 

 

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In other news, the IRS is competing with the TSA's 95% failure rate, showing a 91% failure rate of their own.

 

Or maybe they view it as a 91% success rate? Guns.

 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report Tuesday detailing how, between 2012 and 2014, IRS investigators seized hundreds of bank accounts from business owners based on nothing but a suspicious pattern of deposits. In more than 90 percent of those cases, the money was completely legal. The report also found that investigators violated internal policies when conducting interviews, failed to notify individuals of their rights, and improperly bargained to resolve civil cases.

 

...

 

The inspector general found money seized and forfeited by the IRS was legally obtained in 91 percent of a sample of 278 structuring investigations it reviewed occurring between fiscal years 2012 and 2014. Altogether, those funds totalled $17.1 million and involved 231 cases.

 

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Idaho Gov Flips Off Libertarians With Both Hands

 

In a veto message, Otter said he blocked the asset forfeiture reforms because "it is my view that it is right and proper for drug dealers to have a healthy fear of losing their personal assets if they are caught breaking the law."

 

 

So prove they're breaking the law and we won't have a problem.

 

The other middle finger was unrelated to asset forfeiture but funny. Apparently, the Idaho legislature thinks it might be OK for someone to have only 600 hours of training before cutting hair. Governor Otter protected people from this danger with his veto so Idaho residents can remain safe and secure in the knowledge that the nanny state will ensure 800 hours of training. Sheesh. I grab my buzz box and cut my own. Guns.

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Arizona seems to have a better Governor on this issue.

 

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has decided not to follow in Republican Idaho Gov. Butch Otter's footsteps and has instead made the correct choice to help protect the property rights of its citizens.

 

Ducey has just signed into law a bill that should seriously restrict the ability of law enforcement officers in Arizona to abuse the process of civil asset forfeiture as a way of generating revenue rather than fighting crime.

 

 

It's good to see that a Republican thinks he can defy the prohibition/law enforcement lobby and survive politically.

 

Also good to see that state legislatures have noticed the "Equitable Sharing" workaround and put a stop to it. Guns.

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Interesting. Here's a thread with Pooplius talking to himself.

Most of the thread is Tom posts, responding to other Tom posts.

 

Sad but true. Apparently, only my posts about guns are visible to the general community. Not sure how the technology works.

 

 

Seven Tom Posts in a row?

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And not a gun mentioned! What are you doing here Jocal?

 

That's not true. All of my posts in all forums are only about guns.

 

If you search this page for the word guns, you'll see. Guns.

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SCOTUS Says States Have No Right to Money Taken Based on Overturned Convictions

 

This week the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado has no right to keep fines, fees, court costs, and restitution it extracts from criminal defendants whose convictions are later reversed. By forcing people to prove their innocence before they can get back property that is rightly theirs, the Court said, Colorado has been violating the 14th Amendment's guarantee of due process. The Institute for Justice, which filed a brief in the case emphasizing that the presumption of innocence is an essential aspect of due process, makes a compelling argument that civil asset forfeiture routinely violates that principle.

 

They should apply the same reasoning to property seized from those who have never been charged nor convicted. Guns.

 

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  • 1 month later...

PA Supreme Court rules on 8th amendment excessive fines issue in asset forfeiture case

Interesting history of how we got to where we are.

I liked this part of how the concept of "guilty property" developed:

Quote

(citing Exodus 21:28 (English Standard Version) (“When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox shall not be liable.”))

 

 

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Can a Bipartisan Effort to Repeal Civil Asset Forfeiture Overcome Police Resistance?
 

Quote

 

State Senator Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, is carrying Senate Bill 380, which would repeal civil asset forfeiture, a practice the libertarian-leaning Republican says flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution.

...

In the case of Burton’s bill, that pushback will likely come sooner rather than later. She told the Observer that she has already encountered resistance from law enforcement officials.

Burton’s bill includes no mechanism for replacing the funds law enforcement agencies are almost certain to lose with the repeal of civil asset forfeiture.

...

 

My guess is that the answer is no. Despite bipartisan support, opposition from law enforcement lobbies and Republican drug warriors will kill Burton's bill. This time around anyway.

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Hat tip to the DC Circuit in United States vs $17,900 in United States Currency
 

Quote

 

In March the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case filed by a Texas woman fighting for the return of over $200,000 in cash that the police seized from her family. Although neither Lisa Olivia Leonard nor any of her relatives were ever charged with any underlying crime connected to the cash, the state's sweeping asset forfeiture laws allowed the authorities to take the money.

The Supreme Court offered no explanation when it refused to hear Leonard v. Texas. But one member of the Court did speak up in protest. In a statement respecting the denial of certiorari, Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear that in his view modern asset forfeiture law is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution. Yesterday, one of the most influential federal appellate courts in the country—the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit—signaled its agreement with Thomas' assessment in a notable decision in favor of an innocent couple fighting for the return of $17,900 in cash seized by the police.

 

The DC Circuit decision only means that the couple whose money was seized now have legal standing to sue to get it back.

The government's position boiled down to "they say it's their money but we don't believe them so they have no standing to sue."

The DC Circuit rejected that unsupported assertion, noting:

Quote

the record is devoid of contradictory evidence, the couple has consistently maintained that the money is theirs, nothing  in  their  account  is  physically  impossible,  and —far from conclusory— the couple has explained how they came to own the money in considerable detail.