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Police Forfeitures Without Charges or Evidence


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#1 LFC

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 12:39 PM

I figure this one is right up DSP's alley. Sullivan has a great post about what police departments are doing to raise cash, and it basically equates to robbing people who can't defend themselves or stealing small enough amounts that going after them isn't worthwhile. Read Sullivan's post and a good follow-up for a quick overview of the situation.

http://dish.andrewsu...ed-by-the-cops/
http://www.volokh.co...rfeiture-abuse/


If you want to go more in depth, read the original article:

http://www.newyorker...a_fact_stillman


No need to be a "jack-booted thug". All you need is a uniform and official backing and you can rob people blind.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

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#2 HockeyDon

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 01:14 PM

A bit similar to the thread in Non-political Discussions.
Well, fuck.

How can I be expected to distinguish BS from reality when so much of my reality is utter BS?!

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#3 LFC

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 05:17 PM

A case of what's considered to be excessive civil forfeiture is on its way to the Supreme Court. We already know that the likes of Alito and Thomas have a near kneejerk obsequiousness for police and corporate power but maybe, just maybe, decency will shine through.

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.

How is that? Due to a plea bargain, Timbs was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years of probation. He was also assessed a total of $1,200 in fees and fines. The offense carries a maximum fine of $10,000. Hence, Timbs’ attorneys assert the confiscation of a $42,000 car exceeds what he was liable for in the first place.


I didn't realize that police theft from minorities has a long history.

Quote

Virtually every civil rights organization supports Timbs on the merits of this case. Furthermore, there are historic undertones that prompted the Constitutional Accountability Center to file a friend-of-the-court brief requesting that U.S. Supreme Court hear this case.

That organization points to the early Jim Crow era in which black men were often victims of police persecution and assessed excessive fines for petty offenses. According to Douglas A. Blackmon’s book, Slavery by Another Name, as many as 200,000 black men were forced into debt peonage in the post-Civil War era.


And although we've discussed it often it's always good to take a look at just how out of control this is.

Quote

This unjust practice has gradually become a standardized tool of the law enforcement community. Remarkably, federal agencies seized over $5 billion in 2014, which was more than the amount of property burglarized that same year, $3.9 billion.

Suffice it to say, civil asset forfeiture is padding municipal budgets. One of the more glaring examples of this self-serving dynamic came from a seminar led by Harry S. Connelly Jr., a city attorney for Las Cruces, New Mexico. His zealous support for civil asset forfeiture made it clear that law enforcement is often more focused upon raising revenue, rather than public safety.

In particular, Connelly lauded a scenario in which parents lost their $300,000 house after their son was caught selling $10 of marijuana outside of their home.“Just think what you could do as a legal department. We could be czars. We could own the city. We could be in the real estate business,” said Connelly.

Media attention generally focuses on draconian cases involving high-dollar figures, cars, or homes that were confiscated by the government. However, one of the more perverse aspects of civil asset forfeiture is the manner in which much smaller amounts of money are routinely confiscated by police.

To be exact, the median forfeiture in Chicago was $1,049, according to a study by Reason Magazine and the Lucy Parsons Lab. That’s particularly disturbing because it generally costs at least $2,000 in legal and court fees to recover your assets. In other words, even if you’re willing to climb through a pile of red tape, it’s pointless to recover your assets in most cases.

Moreover, unlike Timbs v. Indiana, the vast majority of civil asset forfeiture cases don’t involve a corresponding criminal case. In fact, eighty-seven percent of federal forfeitures are civil, not criminal.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#4 LFC

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 02:02 PM

SCOTUS just unanimously put an arrow into this beast. It didn't quite hit the heart but it may be a mortal wound eventually. All I can say is "GOOD!" I understand the original reasoning but there has been so much abuse that it needs to go.

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The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to the states, an outcome that could help efforts to rein in police seizure of property from criminal suspects.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the court’s opinion in favor of Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana. Police seized Timbs’ $40,000 Land Rover when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin.

Reading a summary of her opinion in the courtroom, Ginsburg noted that governments employ fines “out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence” because fines are a source of revenue. The 85-year-old justice missed arguments last month following lung cancer surgery, but returned to the bench on Tuesday.

Timbs pleaded guilty, but faced no prison time. The biggest loss was the Land Rover he bought with some of the life insurance money he received after his father died.

Timbs still has to win one more round in court before he gets his vehicle back, but that seems to be a formality. A judge ruled that taking the car was disproportionate to the severity of the crime, which carries a maximum fine of $10,000. But Indiana’s top court said the justices had never ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines — like much of the rest of the Bill of Rights — applies to states as well as the federal government.

The case drew interest from liberal groups concerned about police abuses and conservative organizations opposed to excessive regulation. Timbs was represented by the libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice.

“The decision is an important first step for curtailing the potential for abuse that we see in civil forfeiture nationwide,” said Sam Gedge, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice.

Law enforcement authorities have dramatically increased their use of civil forfeiture in recent decades. When law enforcement seizes the property of people accused of crimes, the proceeds from its sale often go directly to the agency that took it, the law firm said in written arguments in support of Timbs.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#5 baw1064

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 02:11 PM

The fact that it was unanimous is quite something.
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#6 golden_valley

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 02:34 PM

View Postbaw1064, on 20 February 2019 - 02:11 PM, said:

The fact that it was unanimous is quite something.

I agree. I was expecting to see some statements about the confiscation being a way to recover the proceeds of the wrongdoing...the money financed the purchase of that vehicle.

#7 LFC

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 03:16 PM

The concept of charging property with a crime always seemed insane to me. In way too many cases the actual human wasn't even charged with a crime. The police just stole their shit.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#8 baw1064

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 03:25 PM

View PostLFC, on 20 February 2019 - 03:16 PM, said:

The concept of charging property with a crime always seemed insane to me.

Inanimate objects are people too!
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” --Dr. Seuss

#9 LFC

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 03:31 PM

View Postbaw1064, on 20 February 2019 - 03:25 PM, said:

Inanimate objects are people too!

Sooooo, Mitt Romney is a person? (Ba-ZING-gah!)
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#10 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 06:04 PM

View Postgolden_valley, on 20 February 2019 - 02:34 PM, said:

I agree. I was expecting to see some statements about the confiscation being a way to recover the proceeds of the wrongdoing...the money financed the purchase of that vehicle.

Too many times they don't even pretend. As in, the home someone has lived in for 40 years is used as a party venue by their housesitter, cops bust someone smoking weed outside and confiscate the house.
The way a lot of catastrophes happen is that X doesn't occur because there are safeguards in place, therefore people assume X isn't a worry and they remove the safeguards. Then X happens.
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"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#11 baw1064

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 09:47 PM

View PostLFC, on 20 February 2019 - 03:16 PM, said:

The concept of charging property with a crime always seemed insane to me.

Thinking about it a little more, is that a legal theory that's a holdover from slavery? If so, that's just another thing that irks me about the legal system: there's no way to start with a blank slate.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” --Dr. Seuss

#12 JackD

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 09:55 PM

Mostly I can't believe it hasn't been challenged before now. It would have been truly weird for the court to hold that only the 8th Amendment was not enforceable against the states under the 14th Amendment. Of course this is a weird court.

#13 andydp

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 07:06 AM

View Postbaw1064, on 20 February 2019 - 09:47 PM, said:

Thinking about it a little more, is that a legal theory that's a holdover from slavery? If so, that's just another thing that irks me about the legal system: there's no way to start with a blank slate.

To make a long story short: I was reading a British legal work for a grad course. The writer made a point about why some current English common law is like anchient Roman laws.

Similar problems will devise similar solutions.
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#14 LFC

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:31 AM

View PostJackD, on 20 February 2019 - 09:55 PM, said:

Mostly I can't believe it hasn't been challenged before now. It would have been truly weird for the court to hold that only the 8th Amendment was not enforceable against the states under the 14th Amendment. Of course this is a weird court.

It has been challenged. And it has been upheld.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#15 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:46 AM

View PostLFC, on 21 February 2019 - 10:31 AM, said:

It has been challenged. And it has been upheld.

Until now. That's the real landmark here. The idea that somehow the 8th doesn't apply to the States was an old doctrine that was more at home in the 19th century counter-reconstruction era (remember, Southerners and Northern plutocrats dominated the Court until well into the 20th century). This Court finally got around to giving it the same treatment that the Warren Court gave to similar precedent dating to that era.
The way a lot of catastrophes happen is that X doesn't occur because there are safeguards in place, therefore people assume X isn't a worry and they remove the safeguards. Then X happens.
— Nate Silver
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#16 indy

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:47 AM

What is the practical fallout of the ruling? The ruling seems to only say you can't seize property whose value is in excess of the fine that is imposed for a guilty verdict or plea. It doesn't seem to address the fact that property is being seized for the mere suspicion of a crime, well before any court appearances, and then people have to fight like hell to get that property back. Or am I misreading the implications?

#17 LFC

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 11:35 AM

View Postindy, on 21 February 2019 - 10:47 AM, said:

What is the practical fallout of the ruling? The ruling seems to only say you can't seize property whose value is in excess of the fine that is imposed for a guilty verdict or plea.

I'd say that's the biggest step forward. People are losing homes over vaguely loosely associated crimes with maximum fines that are a small percentage of the home's value. Put more succinctly civil forfeiture is less lucrative when the police can't steal big ticket items. It doesn't mean the entire thing doesn't need to be completely reworked, just that this may eliminate the most egregious applications.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#18 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 01:44 PM

View Postindy, on 21 February 2019 - 10:47 AM, said:

What is the practical fallout of the ruling? The ruling seems to only say you can't seize property whose value is in excess of the fine that is imposed for a guilty verdict or plea. It doesn't seem to address the fact that property is being seized for the mere suspicion of a crime, well before any court appearances, and then people have to fight like hell to get that property back. Or am I misreading the implications?

My guess is that lawyers will make the a fortiori argument: if the Constitution bars taking property when the defendant is found guilty of a crime, how much more so when they are not even charged?
The way a lot of catastrophes happen is that X doesn't occur because there are safeguards in place, therefore people assume X isn't a worry and they remove the safeguards. Then X happens.
— Nate Silver
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#19 LFC

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 04:30 PM

TAC has a good review on the SCOTUS decision last month on civil forfeiture. Basically it states we have a long way to go.

Quote

Here’s where the controversy lies: the state of Indiana also seized his $42,000 Land Rover even though the maximum fine for his offense is $10,000. Furthermore, Timbs had proof that his car wasn’t purchased with the proceeds of drug sales; it was acquired with funds from his father’s life insurance policy.

In order to seize the car, the state of Indiana asserted a draconian level of authority that should frighten every American. During questioning, Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher proclaimed that there is no limit to the value of property that can be seized in cases of civil asset forfeiture.

Justice Stephen Breyer probed further by asking if a “Bugatti, Mercedes, or a special Ferrari” could be seized by police even if the driver was merely traveling five miles per hour over the speed limit. Fisher responded affirmatively that the state had that power.

The overarching legal principle at stake was whether the Eighth Amendment’s protection against excessive fines applied to the states. The Fourteenth Amendment was supposed to ensure that the protections within the Bill of Rights were all applicable at the state level, not just the federal one. However, there have been a number of cases that have challenged this “incorporation,” including Timbs v. Indiana.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the state of Indiana, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing the opinion for the court. “Forfeiture of the Land Rover, the court determined, would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of Timbs’s offense,” she said.

Quote

Evidence shows that there’s often a racial component of selective enforcement involved in civil asset forfeiture. A recent report by the Greenville News examined every case of forfeiture in South Carolina from 2014 to 2016. It found that black males represent 13 percent of the state’s population, yet accounted for 65 percent of those whose assets were confiscated.

But the abuses span all racial lines. Police have a perverse incentive to take your money because there’s often no reasonable legal recourse. That same report showed that in over 55 percent of the cases involving cash, the seizures were for an amount less than $1,000. In other words, for those affected, it would have been futile to contest their cases in court because the proceedings generally cost at least $2,000 in fees.

Therefore, although the ruling in Timbs v. Indiana was a huge step in the right direction, it did nothing to address the kinds of lower dollar figure cases that are not considered “excessive” by the letter of the law.

So an unfortunate question remains. How much of an impact will Timbs v Indiana have on the day-to-day actions of law enforcement officials? In short, there’s still a tremendous financial incentive for “policing for profit.”

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer





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