- 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]
West Virginia: “A state Supreme Court ruling says juries can decide if residents who have broken the law by obtaining and using prescription painkillers can sue physicians and pharmacies for their addictions.” [Chamber-backed W.V. Record]
- “Embattled Broward Health paid law firm $10.2 million; tab included a lawyer’s M&Ms” [Miami Herald]
- “Journalists were not very interested in the areas of vaccine policy that are actually debatable. They just wanted to find fools and laugh at them.” [Matt Welch]
- Wider access to pharmaceutically based drug rehabilitation may be sound policy. But is it compelled by the ADA? [Huffington Post via @sbagen]
- Kamala Harris carries water for the SEIU in a hospital deal, and Californians are the losers [John Cochrane]
- Drug case: “Hagens Berman argument ‘gives new meaning to frivolous,’ judge says; sanctions imposed” [ABA Journal]
- California: Kaiser Permanente “ordered to pay woman more than $28 million” [L.A. Times]
- “Bacteria can evolve. So can McDonald’s. Maybe federal policymakers can as well, before it’s too late.” [Steve Chapman]
Lawyers Brendan and Nessa Coppinger moved into their row house in Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood last September. They have now gotten a judge to agree to a temporary restraining order prohibiting their neighbor, Edwin Gray, from smoking or allowing anyone to smoke on his property. The Coppingers say the smoke is getting onto their premises through openings between the connected structures and “is harming them and their children”; they also want cash damages. The Gray family has owned the house next door for 50 years. [AP/ABC13 via ABA Journal; Washington Post]
Benjamin Freed at Washingtonian was kind enough to quote me at length making several points about this and similar litigation: 1) it would have been thrown out over most of the course of legal history because courts insisted that nuisance and similar claims (in this case couched as “negligence, nuisance, and trespassing”) exceed a de minimis standard and, in a claim for damages, required proof of actual harm going well beyond “you hit me with a molecule and that could kill me”; 2) smoking is uniquely disapproved nowadays which means some courts are willing to entertain de minimis claims that they would not for other common neighborhood nuisances; 3) if carcinogenic smoke drifting across property lines is to be stopped, both backyard grills and barbecues and common fireplaces are in trouble, at least if courts behaved logically — a very big if, of course. (It should be noted that the lawsuit includes some claims — such as that an unrepaired chimney at the Grays’ is contributing to the smoke problem — that might fit more readily into traditional legal categories.)
The temporary court order, incidentally, also bars the Gray family from allowing any smoking of now-legal marijuana in their house, which prompts this additional thought:
“It does make you wonder why conservative opponents of marijuana would bother to fight legalization in DC when instead they can let it go through and get rich suing over it,” Olson says.
Whole thing here.
- War on painkillers finds new casualty in ailing veterans [Washington Post, Brian Doherty]
- “Woman says ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ lube doesn’t deliver, should be registered with FDA” [Legal NewsLine]
- “Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Twisted Anti-Vaxx History” [Russell Saunders, Daily Beast back in July]
- Using antitrust law, New York seeks to force maker to go on producing older formulation of drug [Ilya Shapiro on Cato brief in Second Circuit] Courts have mostly rejected claims of a duty to supply grounded in obligation to patients [James Beck, Drug & Device Law]
- “Patients see [biotech] startups and hope for a cure. Too many lawyers see them and hope for a payday.” [Standish M. Fleming, WSJ]
- Argument that policymakers undervalue pharmaceutical aids to heroin rehabilitation [Jason Cherkis]
- After suing the obvious defendants in New England Compounding Pharmacy contamination case, lawyers started in on the less obvious [Drug and Device Law, background on regulation-spurred rise of compounding pharmacies]
Last month the Cato Institute hosted a panel celebrating Repeal Day
with me, alcohol policy expert Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Stacia Cosner of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Cato Digital Marketing Manager Kat Murti as moderator.
On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, supposedly ending our nation’s failed experiment with prohibitionism. Yet, 81 years later, modern-day prohibitionists continue to deny the laws of supply and demand, attempting to control what individuals can choose to put into their own bodies….
Some links related to the discussion:
- All the panelists quoted from Daniel Okrent’s excellent history of Prohibition, Last Call. You can find out more about the book at the author’s site.
- I quote from a speech by the late Christopher Hitchens delivered ten years almost to the day before our panel. It is excerpted in this David Boaz post.
- Radley Balko wrote a 2003 Cato Policy Analysis, “Back Door to Prohibition: The New War on Social Drinking“. More: The federal Centers for Disease Control, as I noted, has been an agency of choice for public health campaigners because of its legacy of scientific credibility, yet this credibility is itself put increasingly at risk as the CDC lends its name to propaganda. Jacob Sullum provides examples from the agency’s elastic application of the term “binge drinking” to the trouble it seems to have acknowledging that minor alcohol consumption does not seem to correlate with poor health outcomes;
- As I mention, the Prohibition episode was important in eroding constitutional protections against various law-enforcement tools, especially search and seizure, the law being inherently aimed at contraband goods. The same is true of the nascent Drug War undertaken following the Harrison narcotics act of 1914. You can read about one of the resulting Supreme Court cases here.
- The role of exorbitant cigarette taxes in contributing to New York’s giant black market in cigarettes came to wider public notice following the police custody death of Eric Garner on Staten Island; more here, here, etc. The New York Post reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the city law department to refrain from filing an intended press release over a would-be landmark suit filed over untaxed cigarettes the week of the Garner grand jury decision, because it interfered with City Hall’s efforts to downplay the role of the tobacco black market.
- “Georgia’s Highest Court Limits Power Of Private Probation Industry” [WABE, Augusta Chronicle, earlier here, here, here, and here]
- Federal judge slams as “preposterous” DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) actions in raid on Tampa pharmacy [Tampa Bay Online]
- “At Least 40 Federal Agencies Now Conduct Undercover Operations” [Jesse Walker]
- “’Gotcha’ program designed to rake in revenue”: “Nassau County Lawmakers Repeal Speed Camera Program” [CBS New York]
- “Creepy”: “FBI Agents Pose as Repairmen to Bypass Warrant Process” [Bruce Schneier]
- Somewhere an old guy in his room is wondering about ending it all, and somewhere a fanatic has been made happy [Elizabeth Nolan Brown on launch of Anaheim, Calif. shaming program to post names of sex purchasers online indefinitely]
- Heather Mac Donald: In defense of broken-windows policing [Time]
- New Cato paper finds little evidence that pot legalization in Colorado has much affected rates of use, traffic safety, violent crime, ER visits, health, education outcomes [Jeffrey Miron working paper via Jacob Sullum]
- Ferguson narrative changes as new evidence supports officer’s story on Michael Brown confrontation [Washington Post, Marc Ambinder/The Week, New Republic]
- Why Obama was smart to choose Loretta Lynch as AG rather than knocking Republicans’ cap off with a pick like Thomas Perez [Cato; Todd Gaziano on confirmation questions]
- Plea bargaining system: “Why Innocent People Plead Guilty” [Judge Jed Rakoff, New York Review of Books]
- “There’s not much to do about catcalling, unless you’re willing to see a lot more minority men hassled by the police” [Kay Hymowitz, Time] Peer pressure seems to be a factor in restraining it [Andrew Sullivan] The “practice of catcalling is most taboo among members of the upper classes.” [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, earlier]
- San Diego says it retains discretion over when to release cop camera footage [Radley Balko] How body cameras can vindicate cops [same]
- Elderly Wisconsin man “was never considered dangerous, [but] was known to be argumentative,” so send in the armored vehicle [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar, related] “The [SWAT-raided] Tibetan monks were here on a peace mission, for Christ’s sake. Well, not for Christ’s sake, but you know what I mean.” [same] Sen. Coburn quotes Madison: standing military force with overgrown executive will not long be safe companion to liberty [WSJ]
- Spectacular investigative report from Radley Balko on fines, fees, and revenue-driven law enforcement in the towns north of St. Louis [WaPo] Reading it, I’m pretty confident my two cents a couple of weeks ago was on the right track;
- Talk about wrong turns: some self-styled progressives want to seize the moment to extend federal government control further over local police management [BuzzFeed, Scott Greenfield (“czar” idea)]
- More reporting on how we got police militarization [ProPublica, Newsweek]
- Race, police, and political power in Ferguson [Charles Cobb guest-posting at Volokh] Richard Epstein on not jumping to factual conclusions (link fixed now);
- N.Z.: “Police union’s election year wishlist” [Radio New Zealand (via @EricCrampton who comments: “Short version: any restriction on liberty that makes their job easier”); yesterday’s post]
- Pretextual pot busts? Zimring’s curious defense of NYC “broken windows” policing [NYP]
- Yes, there’s a SWAT lobby in Washington, D.C., behaving as you’d expect [Tim Mak, Daily Beast] “If Democrats Seek to ‘Rally Blacks’ Against Police Militarization, They Might Start with the Congressional Black Caucus” [Nick Gillespie; Zaid Jilani, Vanity Fair]
- “Police Officers and Patents of Nobility” [Coyote] “Man shot, paralyzed over unpaid parking tickets” [Balko; Lehigh County, Pa.]