FAIR Act to Reform Asset Seizure Laws

Pertinacious Tom

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Michigan Lowers Bar For Looters

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Michigan previously required a criminal conviction prior to completion of forfeitures involving cash or other property worth $50,000 or less. A pair of bills that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law on May 26 lowered that ceiling to $20,000 for assets seized at airports. "Drug trafficking will not be tolerated in Michigan," declared state Rep. Graham Filler (R–DeWitt), who sponsored one of the bills. "The men and women who keep our airports secure need to have the proper authority to keep drugs and drug money out of our state—and this reform gives them the tools they need." Rep. Alex Garza (D–Taylor) claimed his related bill made Michigan "a safer place," because "drug traffickers will now think twice before trying to profit off the lives of our residents."


Whitmer, a Democrat, was equally enthusiastic. By removing barriers to forfeiture of property "seized in association with a drug crime," she said, the two bills "empower airport authorities to crack down on drug crimes at airports."


Far from being "a safer place" thanks to "this reform," Michigan is now a more dangerous place for anyone who flies with large amounts of cash. Whitmer assures us there is no cause for alarm, because this money is "seized in association with a drug crime." But that's an allegation the government should have to prove, not a presumption that travelers should have to rebut after armed agents of the state have already robbed them.
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The entire stupid drug war makes us less safe, not more, but that's another thread.

In this thread, it's worth noting that if the looted cash really is "seized in association with a drug crime" then asking for the relevant conviction shouldn't be too much, no matter the amount of loot involved.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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FBI Misled Judge in Obtaining Warrant To Seize Hundreds of Safe Deposit Boxes

The warrant explicitly forbade looting, so "supplemental instructions" were needed.


Lots of things can make cash seem like criminal proceeds, especially if your agency then gets some of the cash. Lots of cash smells like drugs, so the dogs make sense in the context of looting, if not in the context of inventorying.

Biden's DOJ Wins Against Kochy Nutjobs

IJ Senior Attorney Rob Johnson released the following statement:

“If today’s shocking decision stands, it will set a dangerous precedent that will allow the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to bypass the Fourth Amendment. The decision will give a blueprint for the government to pry open safe deposit boxes, storage lockers, and other private spaces—and to take the contents with civil forfeiture. There is no question that we will be filing an appeal.

“The court’s decision confirms the disturbing facts of this case, which have already been widely reported including by the Los Angeles Times. The court confirms that many ‘USPV customers used its services for legitimate reasons.’ It confirms that the FBI made its plans to forfeit box holders’ property even before applying for its warrant, and it also confirms that the U.S. Attorney’s Office omitted any mention of these plans from the warrant application. The court also finds that there ‘can be no question that the Government expected, or even hoped, to find criminal evidence during its inventory’ of the boxes, notwithstanding the warrant’s specific direction that it did not authorize a criminal search or seizure of the box contents.

“All this makes the district court’s ultimate decision even more troubling.
...

I mean, it's troubling if you think it's OK for property to be in private hands. If you want government looters to take what they please, then it's not troubling at all. It's delightfully enabling!
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Wow, Biden's administration is getting shit done and putting those nutty libertarians in their place on this issue and nobody wants to cheer for him? Weird.

Anyway, I thought "taxation by citation" was clever.

Two Big Boosts for IJ’s Fight Against Taxation by Citation in Alabama and Delaware

Both from July, one mentioned above, when the Biden administration actually supported Kochy nutjobs in a court filing.

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Meanwhile, IJ has been enjoying similar good news in our lawsuit against Wilmington, Delaware’s outrageous tow-and-impound racket, which pays private tow companies by letting them keep and scrap cars when owners are unable to pay exorbitant impound fees. After IJ filed that lawsuit in September of last year, the government moved to dismiss. When the court held argument on that motion in July, it wasted no time in informing the government’s lawyer that “of course” this case was going to move forward. As a result, IJ clients Ameera Shaheed and Earl Dickerson will finally have the chance to prove the town’s towing scheme violates the Constitution’s Buybacks and Excessive Fines clauses.
...

Looters in governments around the country have been running similar towing rackets for years, but Kochy nutjobs are shutting them down. I, of course, approve of such nuttiness.

And this:

Delaware Passes Landmark Law Ending Abusive Fines and Fees

Gov. John Carney on Monday signed a new bill that will drastically overhaul how Delaware can impose and collect fines and fees. Thanks to the state’s bevy of fees and surcharges, traffic tickets and simple misdemeanor fines can quickly balloon and trap people in a never-ending debt cycle.


“We applaud the state for passing this sweeping legislation,” said Institute for Justice Nutjob Jaimie Cavanaugh. “This bill recognizes that being poor is not a crime. It gives Delawareans a fair chance to pay down court debt without sacrificing everyday living expenses.”


HB 244 will implement multiple reforms, including:


  • Repealing almost all fines and fees for minors in criminal cases;
  • Prohibiting courts from charging interest or imposing fees for late payments, failing to pay, or paying in installments;
  • Eliminating fees that charge people for using a public defender or for being under probation supervision; and
  • Establishing new reporting requirements to track revenue generated from fines and fees.

In addition, under HB 244, Delaware can no longer suspend drivers’ licenses for unpaid court debt. Losing a license, even temporarily, jeopardizes a person’s ability to support themselves and their family. And since so many people need a car to commute to work, a suspended license only makes it more difficult to pay off their debts.


Ending the state’s debt suspension policy will help thousands of residents, a reform already enacted in more than 20 other states.
...

People got charged a fee for using a public defender? I didn't know that was a thing.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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I somehow missed that a couple of weeks ago but glad to see that the Kochy nutjobs at IJ got a love letter from Michigan's Supreme Court.

How nutty does one have to be to care about a 2006 Saturn Ion?
 

Pertinacious Tom

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More on the Houston looters.

Houston Prosecutors Are Keeping Cash Seized From Defendants Whose Cases Were Compromised by Police Corruption

In response to the scandal that engulfed the Houston Police Department's Narcotics Division after a lethal 2019 drug raid based on a falsified search warrant, Harris County prosecutors dropped dozens of pending cases and recommended the reversal of at least five convictions. They said those cases were irredeemably tainted by the involvement of Gerald Goines, the officer who lied to obtain the 2019 warrant that led to the deaths of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, or similarly dishonest colleagues. But that judgment did not necessarily mean that the defendants recovered cash or cars seized by Houston's corrupt cops under the pretext of enforcing drug laws.


Even in cases that hinged on the trustworthiness of demonstrably untrustworthy cops, The Houston Chronicle reports, prosecutors so far have chosen to keep nearly all of the property seized from defendants.

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From 2018 to 2020, the Kochy nutjobs note, "Harris County prosecutors added $7.7 million to their budgets" through civil forfeiture. During the same period, "law enforcement agencies in Harris County added $15.9 million to their budgets," and "more than $7.5 million of that money was used to pay salaries and overtime to police officers—the same officers who make decisions about whether to seize property."


Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg wants credit for investigating the blatantly corrupt behavior of Goines and other Houston narcotics officers. Meanwhile, her office, which is hardly without blame for prosecuting falsely accused defendants, is eagerly engaged in money grabs that victimize innocent people and make a mockery of justice.

Kim Ogg wants and also deserves credit for going after corrupt, lying drug warriors. Good for her.

But keeping the loot does kind of taint her efforts IMO.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Vera and Apollonia Ward Started A Business, California Drug War Looters Looted

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One of those groups, Arizona's Goldwater Institute, a public interest law firm, ended up taking on the Ward sisters' case. The Goldwater Institute recently released a short video on the sisters' ordeal:

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"They said they smelled marijuana on the money," Vera Ward says. "We don't smoke. It's not plausible since my sister and I aren't around it."


Not to mention the sisters say they had pulled the money out of the bank several days before they sent it and had receipts to back up their claim.


"We had proof, and they were like, 'No you don't, that's drug money,'" Vera Ward remembers. When the sisters refused to cave and say the money was drug proceeds, they say officers threatened to go after them for money laundering.


When the sisters still refused to admit any connection to drug dealing, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office seized the money anyway, and the San Joaquin District Attorney's Office moved to forfeit it under California's civil forfeiture laws.

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After the Wards connected with the Goldwater Institute, prosecutors relented and returned the sisters' money. Still, law enforcement held their cash for six months on accusations that weren't supported by evidence. The delay set their business back, and it decreased their trust in the police, who they say were rude and unprofessional.

"It was a very disheartening and offensive ordeal we had to go through," Apollonia Ward says. "We had to prove we weren't criminals. We had to go through a lot of back and forth, and our lawyers had to stay on top of them to get them to do everything right."

For those who don't know, the Goldwater Institute is another bunch of Kochy nutjobs, so it's unsurprising to see them working to undermine law enforcement and the American way espoused by Reagan and Biden.

Also unsurprising: I agree with them and am glad that the Wards found nutjobs to help them defeat the looters.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Although the State of Kansas Admits This Guy Is Innocent, It Still Wants To Destroy His 1959 Corvette



The thing about the bolded part is, seizing "guilty" property from innocent people IS permitted and has lots of powerful supporters, including the President. Hence this thread.

In non-drug war looting news, Rich Martinez got his Corvette back!

It took Rich Martinez some six years and cost him $30,000, but he finally got his 1959 Corvette back from the state of Kansas. It also required an act of the legislature to finally make the Kansas Highway Patrol and Department of Revenue return the vehicle, which they planned to crush. ...

I'm not sure whether that's a Koch-$pon$ored legislature, but it's Kansas and they don't seem to like looting, so one can assume...
 

Pertinacious Tom

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You're in violation when it's over 8 inches.
If you read what other people think about a court case or proposed legislation but don't read the decision or the bill, you have only the credibility of those whose words you adopted.
I've found that when I actually read a court case you linked, it said the opposite of what you claimed. This bears on your credibility.

So I ask again, where did you get that 8 inch number?
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Wilmington Residents Win First Round of Lawsuit Challenging City’s Unconstitutional Impound Racket

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U.S. District Judge Colm F. Connolly determined that “Wilmington can’t have it both ways.” Either the victims have an argument that taking the whole value of their car for simple parking tickets is an excessive fine, or the owners have a claim that the city is buyingback property from them without compensation since their tickets don’t rise to the value of the cars. While the city recently announced reforms to make the towing program less abusive, these fundamental problems remain.

The city ticketed Ameera’s legally parked car six times in nine days. While her appeal of the wrongly issued tickets was pending, the city towed her car and demanded payment in full. When Ameera, a disabled grandmother of three, could not afford to pay the more than $300 in tickets within 30 days, First State Towing scrapped her car. Though Ameera’s lost car was worth over $4,000, Wilmington still demands payment and has actually increased what she owes with added penalties to $580....

I agree with the judge that taking Ameera's vehicle must be either an excessive fine or a buyback without compensation.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Amya Sparger-Withers is officially part of a class of people challenging Indiana's contingency forfeiture scam.

Lawsuit Challenging Indiana’s For-Profit Prosecution Scheme Wins First-Round Victory



Indiana looters are quite tenacious and the Kochy nutjobs fought a very long time to get noted heroin kingpin Tyson Timbs' car back. I suspect they're in for another long haul.
In Indiana looting news, Kochy nutjobs interfere again

Today, the Institute for Justice (IJ) submitted an amicus brief in the Lake County, Indiana, Superior Court calling for more transparency in how the state handles civil forfeiture cases. The brief argues that the state’s redacting basic information on documents in civil forfeiture cases likely violates Indiana open records laws.


Civil forfeiture is the process through which police can seize money or property from someone without ever charging them with—much less convicting them of—a crime. In recent months, state prosecutors have begun redacting basic information in civil forfeiture cases, raising concerns about transparency in a state civil forfeiture system that has been rife with abuse. Indiana’s civil forfeiture system is unique in that it allows private attorneys to prosecute civil forfeiture cases and provides a personal profit incentive to forfeit as much property as possible.


“Indiana’s civil forfeiture regime is already one of the most abusive in the country. Keeping basic details from these cases secret, making it more difficult for the public to scrutinize that regime, raises even more concerns,” said Kochy Nutjob Mike Greenberg.
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The amicus brief notes that some of the information that "must be secret" was actually published elsewhere, so the need for secrecy couldn't be that great.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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I don't pay attention to the ad hominem stuff or your folksy characterizations. Is the IJ still part of the Koch portfolio?

How could anyone who has any interest in the subject think there is 'no such thing as a NY license yet' unless they are unthinking targets of for-profit news pubs? It's not like you don't have enough free time, Tom. Read better.
Seems pretty ad hominem to me. In all my years here, I've never seen you complain about any other use of "for profit news pubs" by any other poster. Now it's a problem?

I think your real problem is you don't want to hear opposing views. IJ may be Kochy nutjobs with no credibility, but it's a non-profit with a four star rating from charity navigator. So some credibility from those with no axe to grind.

You going to come up with a source on the 8 inch grass claim? Doesn't seem credible. Seems made up. That's not ad hominem. Just a fact that claims of yours have proven false and I want to examine your sources to see if you're making false claims again.
 

hasher

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Opinion

Police thought his cash was suspicious. So they took it. And won’t give it back.​

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By George F. Will
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December 2, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EST
Trucking company owner Jerry Johnson. (Courtesy Institute for Justice)
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Rebuilding his post-prison life — drug offenses derailed the young Jerry Johnson — he attempted a 50 percent increase of his North Carolina trucking firm, from two semi-trucks, nine and 16 years old, to three. Learning of a used-truck auction in Arizona, he assembled from his savings and from relatives $39,500 in cash, and flew there in August 2020.


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At a luggage carousel in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, he was involuntarily enrolled in a Kafkaesque tutorial now in its third year. He now understands the perverse consequences of giving government a pecuniary incentive, through civil forfeiture, to shift onto accused persons the burden of proving their innocence.
Civil forfeiture is the power to seize property suspected of being produced by, or involved in, crime. The property owners must prove that they and their property are innocent of such involvement. Proving this can be, and government has a motive to make it be, a protracted, costly ordeal against a government that has unlimited resources. The government entity that seizes the property often is allowed to keep or sell it. Lucrative law enforcement involves blatant moral hazard — an incentive for perverse behavior.


Flying with lots of cash is legal. Unlike, say, a 4-ounce tube of toothpaste, a stash of cash poses no threat to airline security. But large amounts of currency arouse police suspicions because drug dealers sometimes travel with them. Drug traffickers often do something else Johnson did: They book flights with quick turnarounds. According to the state, a “confidential informant” alerted Arizona law enforcement to Johnson based on the way he was traveling, meaning his quick turnaround.
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Three detectives confronted him at the carousel. One asked Johnson whether he had “any large amounts” of cash. When he showed him the money, the detective said it smelled like marijuana, which Johnson says he does not use. Finding no contraband in Johnson’s possession, Johnson says in a court filing, the detective pressured him, by threatening to charge him with money laundering, into signing a “disclaimer of ownership” form for the currency. The next day, Johnson returned to North Carolina with neither his money nor a truck.
Under Arizona law, the state bore the burden of proving by “clear and convincing evidence” that Johnson’s money was connected to criminal activity. A court agreed — briefly — that the money was his. The next day, however, the court treated Johnson’s behavioral conformity with a drug courier’s profile (never mind the absence of drugs or any other evidence of criminality) as nullifying his ownership claim.


The court found that the detectives had “probable cause” to seize the cash, and the court, in a patent legal mistake, treated this “probable cause” as a substitute for “clear and convincing evidence” of the money’s involvement in criminality. The seizure supposedly vitiated his argument for ownership, which was: If the cash is not my money, whose is it? I possessed it, no one else has claimed it, and the state has not offered any evidence suggesting anyone else’s ownership.
This should have obliterated Arizona’s entirely circumstantial case. Instead, the state clung to his cash by substituting mere “probable cause” for the more rigorous requirement of assembling “clear and convincing” evidence against his ownership claim.
Arizona’s complaint for forfeiture contains only one factual assertion: He “had” the cash when it was seized. The rest is a tissue of bald assertions about “indicia of criminal activity” suggesting that the cash had been, or was intended to be, used in criminality.


As a young man, Johnson, now 46, paid the price of breaking the law. Today, Arizona hopes to profit from breaking with the presumption of innocence, shrugging off government’s burden of proof, and instead requiring Johnson to prove his innocent ownership of his property.
Thanks to a successful appeal in May from the Institute for Justice, the state will have to do more than just infer that Johnson might have been involved in drug smuggling. Almost everyone ever incarcerated returns to society and remains, like Johnson, susceptible to extrajudicial punishment: An ineradicable stigma that can trigger the sort of treatment Johnson is experiencing in his ongoing quest to regain possession of his property, and to get on with his admirably reconstructed life.
One of his trucks has been driven more than a million miles. Because the nation has a stake in his struggle for the rule of law against lawless civil forfeiture, it should rejoice that he, like the truck, is in this for the long haul.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Thanks to a successful appeal in May from Kochy Nutjobs, the state will have to do more than just infer that Johnson might have been involved in drug smuggling. Almost everyone ever incarcerated returns to society and remains, like Johnson, susceptible to extrajudicial punishment: An ineradicable stigma that can trigger the sort of treatment Johnson is experiencing in his ongoing quest to regain possession of his property, and to get on with his admirably reconstructed life.

I'm still going with my prediction from earlier this year that Jerry Johnson will get his money back, but I still think it will take a while. It took years to get noted heroin kingpin Tyson Timbs his truck back.

George Will is hinting that it's his past arrests that had something to do with the looting of Johnson's money. I don't think so. It's just the money and the incentive to keep it, and cops would have looted the money from someone with no arrest history just as quickly.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Looters were gonna return Afroman's money, but then they got high

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The raid on Afroman's home was conducted by the Adams County Sheriff's Office. According to a search warrant obtained by Fox 19 News, Afroman was suspected of drug possession, drug trafficking, and kidnapping.

As part of the raid, sheriff's deputies seized more than $5,000, saying it may be connected to drug sales.

No charges were ever filed, and the government has now returned the money. Or some of it.

Afroman, whose given name is Joseph Foreman, says $400 is still missing. And Fox 19 News backs up this claim. "We watched it being counted out of sealed evidence bags, and $400 in cash was missing," said Fox 19's Ken Baker in a recent broadcast.
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Kidnapping too? No doubt as bogus as the other charges.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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You're in violation when it's over 8 inches.
One way to become an idiot is to fail to understand that the credibility of any source is the most important characteristic of the information provided by the source.
I agree. Now, about the source for your quoted comment above. Where is it?

Trying to evaluate its credibility. And yours, since you posted it. Please help!
 

Pertinacious Tom

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I don't want to start another thread, but this place is as good as any.

Florida pastor and his son are arrested in alleged $8 million Covid scam​

https://www.yahoo.com/news/florida-pastor-son-arrested-alleged-144916722.html

You think? Two better choices seem to me to have been the Panicdemic Pandering Pork thread or this one.

The reason it's in this one is that these people were "arrested" and their (stolen pork) $8 million was taken. The "stolen pork" part diminishes my sympathy for them, but my reaction is the same as it ever was:

GET A CONVICTION! Then take property. But first, get a conviction. You can detain property if needed while pursuing a conviction, but, at the risk of repeating myself, get a conviction.
 

Olsonist

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GET A CONVICTION! Then take property. But first, get a conviction. You can detain property if needed while pursuing a conviction, but, at the risk of repeating myself, get a conviction.

Hate to thread police you of all people but FAIR is about about asset forfeiture without a charge. Your Floridian pastor indeed has been charged and has only had his assets seized. See the difference?
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Hate to thread police you of all people but FAIR is about about asset forfeiture without a charge. Your Floridian pastor indeed has been charged and has only had his assets seized. See the difference?
So you're saying all the discussion of the Timbs case belonged in another thread?

Ooops!

By the way, what do you think of the Timbs case? Unanimous victory for libertarian nutjobs over the Reagan/Biden drug war looting program. Must hurt.
 

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