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Old 10-20-2015, 10:13 AM   #1
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Thumbs down Civil Asset Forfeiture


Civil asset forfeiture is a nuclear weapon of tyranny. If the Eye of Sauron targets you, they can destroy you. Get too uppity with your speech, politics, etc.? Piss off the police? Lose your house(s). Lose your car(s). Sure you can spend a few years making some lawyers bank in an attempt to fight the Brazil style bureaucracy, but you will probably need to sell whatever you recover to pay for the effort.

Maybe there is hope for the future:
Quote :
...
By taking Clarke's case, the Institute for Justice is hoping to combat not just the one injustice Clarke felt he suffered, but the civil forfeiture laws that drive all these other cases as well. So they're attaching a broader constitutional argument to the case: that the Justice Department shouldn't be able to — as it does today — choose where to spend the seized money, because that gives the executive branch appropriations powers left to Congress in the Constitution.

"Under the Appropriations Clause, Congress is the only branch that has the power to appropriate money," Sheth said. "That's designed to protect people. So if Congress — the most representative branch — holds the purse strings, then people are actually accountable to how that money is spent."

This is an argument that's been advanced by other critics of civil forfeiture, including the Drug Policy Alliance. It's unclear whether it can win in courts, and whether it would strike down civil forfeiture laws. But for organizations like the Institute for Justice, it's the best chance to take out a program that they believe is doing a lot of harm — and that lawmakers just aren't doing much about.
...
http://www.vox.com/2015/6/17/8792623...charles-clarke
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:51 AM   #2
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Quote :
... by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, ...

Now, according to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.
...
More: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-1...urglaries-2014
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:53 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by H.R. 540 :
This bill modifies general rules governing civil forfeiture proceedings to: (1) ensure that a person contesting a civil forfeiture has legal representation without regard to whether the property subject to forfeiture is being used by such person as a primary residence; (2) increase the federal government's burden of proof in civil forfeiture proceedings to clear and convincing evidence; (3) require the government, in addition to showing a substantial connection between the seized property and an offense, to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the owner of any interest in the seized property used the property with intent to facilitate the offense or knowingly consented or was willfully blind to the use of the property by another in connection with the offense; and (4) expand the proportionality criteria used by a court to determine whether a civil forfeiture was constitutionally excessive.

To remove incentives for carrying out civil forfeitures, the bill requires proceeds from the disposition of seized property to be deposited into the General Fund of the Treasury, rather than to Department of Justice accounts for law enforcement activities.
...
More (incl. list of co-sponsors): https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-...house-bill/540

Senate version: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-...enate-bill/255

You'd think such legislation would be a no-brainer. Feel free to contact your Rep & Senators and ask them to support this legislation.
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Old 06-10-2016, 07:55 AM   #4
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Quote :
OKLAHOMA CITY - 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.

"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. The largest part that we have found ... the biggest benefit has been the identity theft," Vincent said.

"If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money it will be given back to you. And we've done that in the past," Vincent said about any money seized.
....
It shows the state is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash forfeited through the courts to the highway patrol.
http://www.news9.com/story/32168555/...ion-of-a-crime

This news report has been edited/updated. The original report (as quoted in another forum where I found it) stated:
Quote :
...
Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.

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

Here's how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.
...
Not sure if the edit was to stem a panic or because the ERAD can't steal from regular credit/debit cards.

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Old 10-30-2018, 09:37 AM   #5
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I haven't updated this thread in a while...

SCOTUS ruling expected this session:
Quote :
The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to rule on a case that could have a major impact on civil liberties and whether civil asset forfeiture can continue to serve as low hanging fruit for bureaucratic interests run amok.

Timbs v. Indiana involves a man whose $42,000 Land Rover was confiscated via civil asset forfeiture. Attorneys from the libertarian public-interest law firm, Institute for Justice, don’t deny their client Tyson Timbs was convicted of selling $385 worth of heroin in two transactions and that his vehicle was used in the sale.

What they do contest is that the confiscation of the Land Rover (purchased with a payment from a life insurance policy, not drug money) was unconstitutional under the Excessive Fines Clause of the 8th Amendment.
...
http://www.theamericanconservative.c...-your-pockets/

This is from 2014, but I only recently saw it:
Quote :
John Yoder was director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office from 1983 to 1985. Brad Cates was the director of the office from 1985 to 1989.

Last week, The Post published a series of in-depth articles about the abuses spawned by the law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture. As two people who were heavily involved in the creation of the asset forfeiture initiative at the Justice Department in the 1980s, we find it particularly painful to watch as the heavy hand of government goes amok. The program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.
...
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...=.64631265b354

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

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

...

Philadelphia dropped its forfeiture case against the Sourevelises after their plight drew national media attention, but last year a federal judge allowed the Institute for Justice's suit to proceed as a class action. The city also put stricter rules into place for when houses could be seized and voluntarily stopped using forfeiture funds to pay the salary of police and prosecutors.

Under the terms of the settlement, codified in two binding consent decrees, Philadelphia will no longer seek property forfeitures for simple drug possession and will stop seizing petty amounts of cash without accompanying arrests or evidence in a criminal case. It will also put judges in charge of forfeiture hearings, will streamline the hearing process, and will ban the Philadelphia district attorney and Philadelphia Police Department from using forfeiture revenue to fund their payroll.

The city will disburse the $3 million settlement fund to qualifying members of the class action based on the circumstances of their case. A Philadelphia resident whose property was forfeited but was never convicted of a related crime, for example, will receive 100 percent of the value of the property.

Last June, the Pennsylvania legislature passed modest reforms of state asset forfeiture laws. The reforms increased the reporting requirements for asset forfeiture, raised the burden of proof necessary to seize property, and codified Philadelphia's new procedures for seizing homes into law. More than half of all U.S. states have passed some form of asset forfeiture reform in recent years, and in July a federal judge declared Albuquerque's asset forfeiture program unconstitutional. 
...
https://reason.com/blog/2018/09/18/p...e-its-asset-fo

It seems that "guilty until proven innocent" legalized theft of private property has spread to the UK:
Quote :
...
Zamira Hajiyeva, who is the subject of the first two unexplained wealth orders obtained by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), also spent more than £16 million over a decade at luxury department store Harrods, a High Court judgment said, according to PA. ...

If Hajiyeva cannot explain how she afforded the assets in question, she could lose them. One property, worth around £11.5 million, is in the rich London neighborhood of Knightsbridge, where Harrods is located.

Hajiyeva's husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, was the chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan from 2001 until his resignation in 2015. He was later sentenced to 15 years on fraud and embezzlement charges, PA reported.

The unexplained wealth order is a new power given to law enforcement agencies this year to tackle suspected corruption. According to the government, it requires "a person who is reasonably suspected of involvement in, or of being connected to a person involved in, serious crime" to explain how their property was obtained, if their lawful income appears to be insufficient to afford it.

...

"UWOs should now be used more widely to pursue more of the £4.4 billion worth of suspicious wealth we have identified across the UK."
...
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/10/u...ntl/index.html
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Old 10-30-2018, 10:14 AM   #6
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Yeah good old blighty ......... never too far behind our masters

Hope they dont try and confiscate my diggers and dumpers cos I dont have a lot of paperwork for them (-:
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Old 10-30-2018, 03:46 PM   #7
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I have always thought this was some seriously bad shit. I have read about casino winners routinely being robbed by State Patrols who have been given tip offs from casino security. They then pull over unsuspecting drivers who are searched for some made up reason, the cash is then found and they are accused of selling drugs. They beat the drug charges but the cops keep the cash. What kind of bullshit is that? There is a stretch of highway in Tennessee that is famous for that. A man who sold his restaurant had all the cash taken from him and spent three years in court fighting to get it back. Three years.

This needs to be taken to the Supreme Court.
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Old 10-30-2018, 04:30 PM   #8
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I definitely think it's overused & abused, but that's not to say in certain cases it isn't a good idea. When you catch a car loaded with a 100 pounds of meth, they should be able to take the car & everything else in it. When parents are passed out in a car from OD'ing on heroin with the kids in the back seat, they need to lose the car and the kids. Clearly there are cases where they taking stuff that doesn't fit. I also think that's one of the reasons that L.E. & govt. agencies fight like mad to not allow recreational marijuana & even medical marijuana. In my state we passed medical marijuana 2 years ago w/ a 2/3 majority & just now the govt. is trying to get it going cause they are afraid that people upset that they drug their feet on medical marijuana will vote for recreational marijuana. We've had officials in the govt. & L.E. campaigning while on duty against it (measere #3). They took out ads in the paper against it using govt. funds. Cops have been seen stealing pro measure #3 signs. They have made commercials that blatantly lie about what this bill will do & how it will basically turn N.D. into the film "Reefer Madness" if it's passed. The only reason they are so against it is they will lose a bunch of revenue from fines, property seizures, etc. They don't seem to realize the tax they put on it will almost certainly be more than what they lose from the others, not to mention all the other drugs that will still be illegal & then they can play their little seizure game & impose fines & fees still.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:10 AM   #9
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Quote :
... 86 percent of Utah voters and 84 percent of all Americans oppose civil asset forfeiture. ...

... The most recent data for forfeitures in Utah show that only 87 percent of cases involve a criminal charge, with only 58 percent resulting in a conviction. Even more troubling, 64 percent of cases involve a default judgment because the person doesn’t even fight the forfeiture at all.
...
And why don’t they fight? Consider this: The median value taken in forfeitures last year was a mere $1,071. Ask yourself: Would you hire an attorney for thousands of dollars to try to reclaim so little an amount? The question answers itself.

Then there are the larger cases, where it may make financial sense to fight. Even then, exchanges are offered by the prosecutor where the owner gets to keep half of the property if they agree to drop the case, letting the government keep the other half. No charges filed, no conviction, just a negotiation in which a property owner decides it’s better to lose some of the property than to spend a substantial amount of money and time fighting for years.

That isn’t justice. And it certainly isn’t the everything-is-peachy “essential law enforcement tool” Huber tries to depict. It is, rather, a law in dire need of reform.
...
More: https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/comme...mentary-civil/
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:35 AM   #10
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Ideally, this CAF gets neutered at the Federal level, but until that time, individual states are leading the way. Except, apparently, for Michigan...
Quote :
Earlier this year, my plan to ensure innocent people don’t lose their personal property to civil asset forfeiture was approved by the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

This common-sense solution would protect the civil liberties of all Michigan residents while still allowing officers to crack down on convicted criminals. It would require an individual to be convicted of a crime before authorities are allowed to take and dispose of his or her property.

Unfortunately, the legislation has collected dust in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the five months since that historic vote. Sen. Rick Jones, who chairs the committee, appears reluctant to take the bill up for consideration. The former sheriff seems content with the status quo, which allows law enforcement officers to take and keep the property of individuals who are never even charged with a crime.
...
https://www.detroitnews.com/story/op...rm/1902400002/
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:16 AM   #11
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SCOTUS hears oral arguments in Timbs Vs. Indiana in two days (Wednesday):

https://reason.com/volokh/2018/11/25...ll-hear-an-imp
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:57 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
SCOTUS hears oral arguments in Timbs Vs. Indiana in two days (Wednesday):

https://reason.com/volokh/2018/11/25...ll-hear-an-imp
Ever since their ruling on eminent domain in the early-mid 2000's I haven't had much faith with them in that dept. They ruled that land could be taken by a business to build a store on if it was in or even near a prime retail area. Now I begrudgingly accept the fact that sometimes private property must be purchased from an otherwise unwilling seller when it represents the national interest, but for a company to be able to take land because of its profit making potential, even if it is in or near a prime retail area is complete B.S. IMO. I was surprised back then that Scalia voted for that too. As for the libs on the bench then, I was kind of surprised they would side with big business, but then again, it's a move to take power away from the individual, so I guess that's what they were looking at.
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:32 AM   #13
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SCOTUS vexes me so hard. I was so elated and surprised at the McDonald vs. Chicago ruling. And so very disappointed in the "Obamacare individual mandate is a tax" decision. SCOTUS gets some right and some wrong.

In reality though, the entire premise of civil asset forfeiture (CAF) flies in the face of the 5th amendment to the Constitution which proclaims that:
Quote :
No person ... (shall) be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; ...
Govco claims the actions are litigated against the property, not the property owner, but it's nonsense. They are still depriving people of their property without due process.

The Timbs case is about CAF vs. the 8th amendment, and while it might help curb some of the excessive abuses, it won't stop the majority of "legal theft" that is occurring as most seizures are $1,000 or less last I saw - below the threshold where property owners can fight the process and come out with heads above water (ie. it costs more to fight through the courts than what they will recover if they prevail, so most don't bother).
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:12 AM   #14
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It appears that SCOTUS is inclined to vote correctly on the Timbs case:
Quote :
This morning, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Timbs v. Indiana, an important asset forfeiture and property rights case. I wrote about the issues at stake here and here. The big questions before the Court are whether the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment is "incorporated" against state governments and, if so, whether at least some state civil asset forfeitures violate the Clause. If the answers to these two questions are both "yes," the Court could also potentially address the issue of what qualifies as an "excessive" fine.

Today's oral argument makes clear that the Court will almost certainly rule that the Excessive Fines Clause does indeed apply to the states. The justices also seem likely to rule that at least some state asset forfeitures violate the Clause. Both liberal and conservative justices seemed to support Timbs on these two issues, especially incorporation. It is hard to say, however, what - if anything - the Court will do on the question of how to define "excessive." The justices could well decide to leave it to the lower courts, at least for the time being.
...
More: http://reason.com/volokh/2018/11/28/...argument-in-ti
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:15 AM   #15
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Quote :
...
Since the late 19th century, the Supreme Court has been applying—or incorporating—the various provisions contained in the Bill of Rights against the states via the 14th Amendment, which says, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In other words, if the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment applies against the states (it does), then the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment deserves the same treatment.

Now here is where things start to get interesting. "We all agree that the Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated against the states," Gorsuch said during the Timbs oral arguments. But he then acknowledged that not everyone on the Court agrees on exactly how it should be done. "Whether you want to do it through the Due Process Clause and look at history and tradition," he continued, "or whether one wants to look at privileges and immunities, you might come to the same conclusion."

Gorsuch was likely thinking about McDonald v. Chicago, the 2010 case in which the Court confronted these questions: Does the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms apply against the states via the 14th Amendment, and if it does apply, is that because the right to keep and bear arms is a privilege or immunity of U.S. citizenship, or because it is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause?
...
https://reason.com/blog/2018/12/04/n...forfeiture-and

If I'm reading that right, even though the Timbs case appears to be about the application of the 8th amendment (excessive fines), there is a meta issue regarding incorporation of the 8th via the 14th which could open the door to arguments that CAF violates due process entirely. I hope I understood that correctly.
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