Posts Tagged ‘forfeiture’

Police and prosecution roundup

  • Mark your calendar: December 1 Cato hosts a policing conference in Washington, D.C.;
  • “Note: DOJ thinks flying from Chicago to Los Angeles is suspicious.” Well, no wonder they did a forfeiture then! [@bradheath]
  • Mississippi voters on Tuesday returned longtime Attorney General Jim Hood to office by 56-44 margin [Radley Balko; Jackson Clarion-Ledger; earlier Balko on Hood’s spotted record as prosecutor]
  • “No! Mine is more unconstitutional!” Police and council in Charlotte, N.C. mull “whether to create ‘public safety zones,’ city areas where people with past arrests would be prohibited from entering.”‘ [Charlotte Observer]
  • Harvard lawprof Jeannie Suk on the St. Paul’s sexual assault case and the rapidly changing definition of rape [Jeannie Suk, New Yorker]
  • Prison “pay to stay” charges can far exceed any reasonable ability to pay, and few outside the world of ex-offenders “even know it’s happening” [Scott Greenfield]
  • “Was it a turf war gone mad? Or a botched police response?” [Nathaniel Penn, GQ, on the Waco biker gang shoot-out, earlier here, here, here]

“Snyder signs forfeiture reform laws”

Congratulations to my home state of Michigan, which recently enacted reforms to its civil asset forfeiture laws. “The bipartisan legislation is supported by groups as diverse as the ACLU of Michigan and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Both say the bills Snyder signed today are a significant improvement but don’t go far enough.” Elements of the reform include a move from preponderance-of-the-evidence to clear-and-convincing-evidence and greater transparency and disclosure about the uses of forfeiture. Michigan has been the scene of a number of episodes of aggressive use of forfeiture law in recent years, including a raid on a monthly party at the Museum of Contemporary Art for which the museum had failed to get a proper alcohol license; police confiscated patrons’ cars as well as ticketing them for “loitering in a place of illegal occupation.” [Detroit Free Press]

Law enforcement for profit roundup

  • “Why Morristown officers seized the cars in the first place is unclear.” Maybe because it enabled an officer to pocket $6,000? [Tennessee: Watchdog] Louisiana town getting 87% of its revenue from traffic tickets has 188 people, 5 cop cars [Marshall Project via Balko] For second time, this time in Chicago case, former CEO of red light camera company cops a federal plea [Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica]
  • Opposition from law enforcement shoots down asset forfeiture reform in California [Scott Shackford/Reason, more] Despite talk of being friendlier to forfeiture reform, Department of Justice fed talking points to reform opponents in California battle [TechDirt] “Most Americans don’t realize it’s this easy for police to take your cash” [Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post “WonkBlog”]
  • Other side of the ledger: how governments pay for claims against law enforcement [Joanna Schwartz, SSRN via TortsProf]
  • Louisville traffic school allows violators to get cases “dismissed without having to pay court costs… and generates revenue to operate the county attorney’s office” [Insurance Journal]
  • Lawsuit alleges private probation companies in Tennessee abusing power, free-marketers should be as worried as anyone else about misalignment of private, public incentives [Radley Balko, earlier]
  • Odd how feds can prevent someone resisting extradition from contesting asset forfeiture [Trevor Burrus/Cato, Ilya Somin on Kim Dotcom case]
  • Insurers often pool funds to support insurance fraud prosecution efforts, but critics say Travis County, Texas prosecutors are needlessly close to a single company [Texas Tribune]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • mr-district-attorneySheriff’s group wants Facebook to ax “hate speech against police,” “anti-police rhetoric”: what could go wrong? [WDIV, Daily Caller]
  • The “Mr. District Attorney” comic book cover at right is from Jim Dedman at Abnormal Use, who as part of his Friday links roundup for years now has featured great law-related comic book covers related to law, crime, and justice. Check out his archive;
  • “Under the Microscope: The FBI Hair Cases,” on a major forensic fiasco [Al-Jazeera America documentary, auto-plays, via Scott Greenfield]
  • Knock and announce: in case from Eastern Shore of Maryland, Fourth Amendment got SWATted by militarized police [Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer, Newsweek and Cato]
  • Of course the intersection of civil asset forfeiture with sex panic is one big disaster area for liberty [Elizabeth Nolan Brown] “Should Prostitution Be Legalized?” [David Boaz, Cato; Reason panel on “sex trafficking” goes on despite threatened activist disruptions]
  • Doctrine of qualified immunity shields police officers (and other public employees) from most civil liability. How does it work? [Nathan Burney at Radley Balko]
  • The U.S. Department of Justice regularly settles complaints against local police departments by extracting a promise to abide by future negotiated constraints. Federalism and constitutional concerns aside, how well do these consent decrees actually work in reforming conduct? [Marshall Project]

Arizona cops vs. Rhonda Cox’s truck

Cato’s Caleb Brown talks with attorney J. Cabou about the legal fight over Arizona’s civil asset forfeiture law, which authorizes “one-way” fees to be made available to prevailing law enforcement, but not to prevailing citizens. Note, by the way, that the (very real) due process objections to one-way fee-shifting are in many ways equally applicable to one-way fee-shift provisions found in numerous other areas of law, including discrimination and environmental statutes.

Law enforcement for profit roundup

  • One Oklahoma official used asset forfeiture to pay back his student loans, another lived rent-free in a confiscated house [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • Per ACLU, Arizona has a one-way legal fee rule in forfeiture cases, with prevailing police allowed to collect from property owner but not vice versa [Jacob Sullum]
  • From Michael Greve, some thoughts on prosecution for profit and where money from public fines should go [Liberty and Law]
  • About the Benjamins: Philadelphia mayor-to-be cites revenue as reason to let parking officers ticket sidewalk users [Ed Krayewski, Reason]
  • Captive market: with wardens’ and sheriffs’ connivance, prison phone companies squeeze hapless families [Eric Markowitz, IB Times]
  • Former red light camera CEO pleads guilty to bribery, fraud in Ohio [Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica]
  • Taxpayers lose as Maine counties jail indigents over unpaid fines [Portland Press-Herald]
  • “St. Louis County towns continue to treat residents like ATMs” [Radley Balko]

Forfeiture roundup

  • How does your state rank on asset forfeiture laws? [Michael Greibok, FreedomWorks via Scott Shackford] Maryland delegate alleges that vetoed bill “would have made it easier for criminals to get their forfeited property back,” seemingly unaware that it focused on rights of owners *not* found guilty of anything [Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County Times] Arizona counties said to have nearly free rein in spending money [Arizona Republic via Coyote]
  • I took part last week in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. on civil asset forfeiture, sponsored by Right on Crime, and it went very well I thought [Sarah Gompper, FreedomWorks]
  • “Nail Salon Owner Sues For Return Of Life Savings Seized By DEA Agents At Airport” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt] And: “A federal judge has just ordered the government to return $167,000 it took from a man passing through Nevada on his way to visit his girlfriend in California.” [Cushing]
  • “How Philadelphia seizes millions in ‘pocket change’ from some of the city’s poorest residents” [Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post “Wonkblog”]
  • IRS drops structuring forfeiture case against N.C. convenience store owner Lyndon McLellan, will return more than $107,000 it seized [Institute for Justice]
  • Canada, too, has civil forfeiture when there has been no criminal conviction [British Columbia Civil Liberties Association]
  • Michigan testimony: “After they breached the door at gunpoint with masks, they proceeded to take every belonging in my house” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Town of Richland, Mississippi, population 7,000, builds $4.1 million police headquarters with forfeiture money. Thanks, passing motorists! [Steve Wilson, Mississippi Watchdog via Radley Balko]

June 10 roundup

  • Alan Dershowitz, Harvard lawprof, suing TD Garden over slip and fall in bathroom three years back [Boston Globe]
  • “Harsh Sanction Proposed For Attorney Who Blogged About Probate Case” [Mike Frisch, Legal Profession Blog]
  • Maryland veto sets back reform: “Governor Hogan, Civil Asset Forfeiture Is Inherently Abusive” [Adam Bates, Cato]
  • “‘Vape’ bans have little to do with public health” [Jacob Grier, Oregonian in February]
  • Academics prosper through expert witness work, part one zillion [Ira Stoll]
  • Sounds good: call for civil procedure reform includes fact-based pleading, strict discovery limits, case-specific rules, and more [Jordy Singer, Prawfs, on recommendations from American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice and Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System]
  • Draft plan would arm FTC with vast power over data practices [James C. Cooper, Morning Consult, via @geoffmanne]

A Michigan forfeiture pattern

After crooks sell bogus insurance coverage to credulous Michigan auto owners, cops swoop down and seize/forfeit victims’ cars for having been operated without insurance. Crooks and cops, stronger together! [Juan Thompson, The Intercept]

Also on forfeiture: if you’re in the D.C. area mark your calendar for June 26 when I will be appearing at a Right on Crime panel discussion of the subject in downtown D.C. along with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Jason Pye of FreedomWorks, with John Malcolm of Heritage moderating. You can register and see more details here.