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Tag Archive: Legalized Theft


Iowa Forfeiture: A ‘System Of Legal Thievery’?

 

 

 

 

 

The plan: Hitch a ride with a family friend to California, visit relatives and check out community colleges there.

  Sanchez-Ratliff, then 20, did something that in hindsight wasn’t the best idea, but isn’t illegal. He took with him his entire life savings, including about $14,000 provided by his grandmother and an additional $5,000 he had saved from working.”

 

 

 

” The much-anticipated trip took an unexpected turn about eight hours in, as flashing lights appeared in the rear-view mirror. A Pottawattamie County sheriff’s deputy stopped the vehicle for traveling 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.

  An hour later, the deputy seized Sanchez-Ratliff’s cash. Despite a clean criminal record and a search that turned up no sign of drugs or other illegal activity, the deputy concluded the money must somehow be linked to a crime.

  Sanchez-Ratliff is hardly alone.”

 

 

The Register continues …

 

 

” A Des Moines Register investigation into the use of state and federal civil forfeiture laws in Iowa reveals that thousands of people have surrendered their cash or property since 2009. The system is stacked against property owners while raising millions of dollars annually for law enforcement agencies across the state, something critics contend encourages policing for profit over promoting public safety.

  The bulk of forfeitures reviewed by the Register resulted from traffic stops, often for minor violations and involving vehicles with out-of-state plates. But cash or property also was seized after police were called or sent to homes or businesses. In a few cases, police seized cash carried by johns caught up in prostitution stings.

  Among the Register’s findings:

• Law enforcement agencies in all but seven of Iowa’s 99 counties have used the state’s civil forfeiture law since 2009. They have seized cash or other property 5,265 times. At least 542 more cases have used federal forfeiture laws.

• Many of those property owners — including Sanchez-Ratliff — are sent on their way after surrendering their cash or other property. A sampling of about 600 forfeiture cases from the Iowa counties that seized the most property over the past six years revealed dozens of instances with no record of an arrest or criminal charges.

• Iowa police departments and other law enforcement agencies have seized nearly $43 million over the past six years — money divided among agencies involved in each forfeiture case. Under law, the money is supposed to be used to “enhance” their crime-fighting capabilities.

• Most of the money is used to buy equipment, train officers and fund multiagency task forces. But it also has been spent on tropical fish, scented candles, mulch and other items that appear to have little or no direct link to law enforcement activities.

  Local law enforcement agencies generally keep 90 percent of forfeited cash, split among the agencies that seized the property. The rest goes to the state, for use by the Iowa Attorney General’s office and the state’s public safety departments.”

 

 

    The Des Moines Register offers a serious investigation into the blatantly unconstitutional process of stripping law abiding citizens of their money and possessions without due process , otherwise known as “civil” asset forfeiture . Read the whole thing and remember this is not an issue limited to Iowa , your state is doing it too .

Civil asset forfeiture reform now . Every “war” results in a loss of freedoms but none so much as the “war on drugs” .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Man Acquitted Of Crime, Cops Still Take His Cash

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Iowa State troopers can keep more than $30,000 in cash taken during a traffic stop, even though the owner was found not guilty, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled last week.

  In June 2012, Robert Pardee was riding in a car through Powesheik County, Iowa on I-80, when an Iowa State trooper pulled the driver over for a non-working taillight and tailgating. During the stop, state troopers found “a small amount of marijuana” and $33,100 in cash. Pardee was arrested and charged with possessing cannabis. In Iowa, first-time offenders can face up to six months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.

  One year later, a district court found him not guilty. As the criminal case proceeded against Pardee, the state also filed a civil forfeiture case against his seized cash. Despite his acquittal, first the district court and then the Iowa Court of Appeals ordered Pardee to forfeit his cash to the state.

  Unlike criminal forfeiture, which does require a conviction to take the ill-gotten gains from criminals, civil forfeiture lets law enforcement seize and keep property from people without a criminal conviction, or even without filing charges.

  Since civil forfeiture cases proceed in civil court, the state has to meet a far lower burden of proof to win. While criminal cases require proving “beyond a reasonable doubt,” for civil forfeiture in Iowa, the government need only show by a “preponderance of the evidence,” or “more likely than not,” that property was used to help facilitate a crime or are the proceeds of crime.”

 

 

    Could anything possibly be more unAmerican than “civil” asset forfeiture ? It is nothing more that legalized theft and constitutes an arbitrary abuse of power , totally ignores the rule of law and demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are well on our way to tyranny . The Founders must be rolling in their graves .

Surely this case deserves to be taken all the way to the Supreme Court … Read the rest at Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Video 2.15.15

IRS Unleashed: Feds Show Up At Dairy Farm And Wrongfully Seize $62k

 

 

Published on Feb 12, 2015

” IRS Unleashed: Feds Show Up at Dairy Farm and Wrongfully Seize $62k (February 12, 2015) “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Video 2.12.15

John Stossel – Civil Asset Forfeiture

 

 

 

 

Published on Feb 9, 2015

” Attorney Jeff Rowes (Institute for Justice) explains how incentives drive police toward a predatory view of citizens. http://www.LibertyPen.com “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Police No Longer Work For You

 

 

 

 

 

 

” To the casual observer it appears that Virginia is run by violent psychopaths. That’s the takeaway from the recent report of an anti-poker SWAT team raid in Fairfax County, in which eight assault rifle-sporting police officers moved against ten card-playing civilians. The police possibly seized more than $200,000 from the game, of which 40 percent they eventually kept.

  There was no indication that any of the players was armed. As a matter of fact, it appears that a gambler is more likely to be shot without provocation by the Fairfax Police than the other way around. The heavy firepower at the Fairfax raid was apparently motivated by the fact that “at times, illegal weapons are present” at such poker games, and that “Asian gangs” have allegedly targeted such events in the past. This is, then, a novel approach to law enforcement: as a matter of policy, Fairfax police now attempt to rob and steal from people before street gangs get around to doing it.

  It is a mystery why we put up with this obscene police behavior. Gambling itself is not illegal in Virginia; it is simply controlled by the state. So the Fairfax police department did not bust these hapless poker players with guns drawn for doing something truly immoral and fully outlawed, merely for doing something in a way not approved by the state legislature. Were gambling actually forbidden in Virginia, then a crackdown could at least be understood, if not condoned in so paramilitary a fashion. Yet Virginia’s stance on the matter is not to treat gambling as malum in se, but rather as an instrumentum regni: our government prefers to funnel gambling money into its own coffers for its own ends, outlaw the same thing when it’s done outside of the state’s jurisdiction, and then steal the money of the poor fellows who happen to get caught. “

 

 

    Civil asset forfeiture , or policing for profit , is one of the defining issues of our day and along with No-Knock raids have eroded our liberties in ways the Founders never dreamed possible .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DC Police Department Budgets Its Asset Forfeiture Proceeds Years In Advance

 

 

 

 

” Asset forfeiture may be the greatest scam perpetuated on the American people by their government — and it’s all legal. For the most part, assets seized translate directly to monetary or physical gains for the agencies doing the seizing, an act often wholly separated from any American ideals of due process.

  The New York Times recently obtained recording of asset forfeiture conferences which showed prosecutors advising cops on how to best exploit these programs to obtain additional funds and goods for their respective law enforcement agencies. In short, it appears that many agencies use asset forfeiture to fill departmental shopping lists, rather than as the criminal syndicate-crippling action it was intended to be.

  The Washington Post has been digging into the oft-abused programs for the last six weeks. The latest article in this series comes to similar conclusions about how the programs are viewed by law enforcement agencies.

  D.C. police have made plans for millions of dollars in anticipated proceeds from future civil seizures of cash and property, even though federal guidelines say “agencies may not commit” to such spending in advance, documents show.

  The city’s proposed budget and financial plan for fiscal 2015 includes about $2.7 million for the District police department’s “special purpose fund” through 2018. The fund covers payments for informants and rewards. “

TechDirt has more on this grand scheme of legalized theft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Boasts Having Seized $904 Million Through Asset Forfeitures In 2013 Alone

 

 

 

” Civil asset forfeiture is a controversial policy in which the government seizes private property that it believes was either gained through the commission of a crime or used to commit one. However, the items being seized sometimes belong to someone who was never accused of a crime at all or people who later turn out to be completely innocent. Since a civil process is used to seize the items in question, individuals facing the loss of property do so without the benefit of the level of due process that would ordinarily be afforded a criminal defendant.

  The Washington Post notes that, under President Obama, civil asset forfeitures have doubled. Now, as Eric Holder steps aside as US Attorney General, his potential replacement, nominee and US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, recently announced that her office seized over $904 million in asset forfeitures in 2013 alone.

  According to a quote from The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, “As a prosecutor Ms. Lynch has also been aggressive in pursuing civil asset forfeiture, which has become a form of policing for profit. She recently announced that her office had collected more than $904 million in criminal and civil actions in fiscal 2013, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.” The editorial calls for senators to ask questions in an effort to clarify Lynch’s views on the controversial policy. “

 

Ben Swann has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets To Seize

 

 

 

 

 

 

” The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.

  In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.” And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar.

“ A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol. And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’ ”

  Mr. Connelly was talking about a practice known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows the government, without ever securing a conviction or even filing a criminal charge, to seize property suspected of having ties to crime. The practice, expanded during the war on drugs in the 1980s, has become a staple of law enforcement agencies because it helps finance their work. It is difficult to tell how much has been seized by state and local law enforcement, but under a Justice Department program, the value of assets seized has ballooned to $4.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year from $407 million in 2001. Much of that money is shared with local police forces. “

   NY Times offers that story on police departments and their wish lists for asset forfeiture while BuzzFeed has a piece that dovetails nicely with it … “If In Doubt , Take It” … below is an excerpt :

There are three kinds of people in this world: Those who’re outraged by civil forfeiture, those who don’t know what it is and those who profit from it

  Without even needing to charge someone with a crime, law enforcement can seize and keep cash, cars and even homes, by exercising civil forfeiture. Now the Institute for Justice has uncovered recordings of government officials from across the country making unsettling comments about this controversial power:

• One city attorney called his legal documents a “masterpiece of deception” and has won 96 percent of his forfeiture cases.
• An assistant district attorney takes property, even from owners who have been acquitted, because “people are not found innocent, they are found not guilty.”
• One government official doesn’t want to disclose information about civil forfeiture, because it might become a “bullet-point for people that are trying to fight the program.”
• A prosecutor teaches other attorneys how to take property from innocent people. He even offers this piece of advice, “IF IN DOUBT…TAKE IT!” 

Speaking at a forfeiture conference on September 10, 2014, Pete Connelly, City Attorney for Las Cruces, New Mexico, detailed his plan that would let police take the homes of people caught with tiny amounts of marijuana, even in states where the plant is legal:

“ I got to thinking this morning, in the paper that everybody is running around liberalizing marijuana or thinking about it. Putting it on the ballot. Taking it off the ballot. And I thought, boy, what a trap. You liberalize marijuana so somebody can sell it, they sell the marijuana out of the house, then you seize the house, which is like 10 bucks of marijuana and you [the police] get a $300,000 house. What a deal. That’s really exciting. They get what they want, and you get what you want. And the title of that article in the [Wall Street] Journal was ‘What’s Yours Is Theirs.’ I want to turn it around as ‘What’s Theirs is Yours.’” “

 

 

 

   Be sure to read them both and funnel your outrage towards your nearest GOP representative . Demand that they eliminate the policy of legalized theft otherwise known as “Civil asset forfeiture” .

   Defending the practice of seizing property from American citizens who have not only not been convicted of a crime , but in most cases not even charged , is an impossible task and we would welcome any effort by the incoming congressional Republicans to put their Statist opponents on the other side of the aisle on the spot with a vote to abolish this plainly unconstitutional law .

How Asset Forfeiture Allows Cops To Steal From Citizens

 

 

 

 

” It probably seemed like a bright idea at the time: Let the police seize the ill-gotten gains of alleged drug dealers and other suspected criminals and sell it, using the proceeds to buy much-needed crime-fighting gear.

  Unfortunately, the process—civil asset forfeiture—did not require convicting anybody of a crime. In fact, it didn’t even require charging anybody with a crime. Not surprisingly, this led to rampant abuse, which has been abundantly documented for many years. Various reform efforts, including a 2000 federal law, have been unable to stop what’s become known as policing for profit.

  But Virginia lawmaker Mark Cole is going to give it another shot. That’s as good a sign as any that civil asset forfeiture has jumped the shark. “

 

 

  We wish Mr Cole good luck . Legalized theft , aka civil asset forfeiture , is an abuse that is completely incompatible with the spirit of America as well as being blatantly unconstitutional .

 

Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Oliver Strikes Again

 

 

 

” It does seem to me that John Oliver is in the process of inventing some interesting new kind of political/social commentary – the 20-minute single-issue rant that is both hilariously funny, well put-together, and often quite devastatingly effective, as argument.  I find that when he deals with something I happen to know something about — net neutrality, say, or the governance of FIFA, or the so-called right to be forgotten” — he gets to the heart of the matter pretty quickly, and that’s not something I often find to be true, and it’s not an easy thing to do (though of course, like all good performers, he makes it look easy).  He is quite good at isolating the outrageous and then looping us for a while around the slippery slopes that surround it, and then bringing the conversation back to another bit of outrageousness and doing it again.  It’s like an amusement park ride, but it has an argumentative purpose.   There’s a line between simplifying (which he does, brilliantly) and over-simplifying (which I find he generally does not do), and it’s a very hard one to walk, and he does it quite well. “

Washington Post

 For The Record: “Seized”

 

 

Published on Sep 29, 2014

” A little known law that allows the IRS and law enforcement to empty bank accounts and seize personal property without warning or proof of a crime.

  Could you be their next target? Find on Wednesday’s episode of For the Record at 8PM ET.

  Watch full episodes of For The Record on demand with a subscription to TheBlaze TV:http://theblaze.com/fortherecord “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iowa Troopers Steal $100,000 In Poker Winnings From Two Players Driving Through The State

 

 

 

 

 

” The Des Moines Register highlights an Iowa forfeiture case, the subject of a federal lawsuit filed this week, in which state troopers took $100,000 in winnings from two California poker players traveling through the state on their way back from a World Series of Poker event in Joliet, Illinois. The case illustrates several of the themes I discussed in a recent column explaining how cops became highway robbers:

  Cops can always find an excuse to stop you. On the morning of April 15, 2013, Trooper Justin Simmons, who is part of an “interdiction team” that looks for contraband and money to seize, pulled over William Davis and John Newmer­zhycky, who were traveling west on Interstate 80 in a rental car, a red Nissan Altima. Simmons later said he had received a vague tip from “an Illinois law enforcement officer” to be on the lookout for a red car, but he did not know why. Obviously that did not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion, which Simmons needed to stop the car. So instead he claimed that he pulled Davis and Newmer­zhycky over because Newmer­zhycky, who was driving, failed to signal as he passed a black SUV. But as can be seen in the video recorded by Simmons’ dashcam (starting around the 00:28 mark), Newmer­zhycky did signal. In the absence of such contrary evidence, cops are free to invent minor traffic infractions to justify a stop they want to conduct for other reasons. Although it does not condone such prevarication, the Supreme Court has said any valid legal reason makes a stop constitutional, even if it’s a pretext for a more ambitious investigation. The Register reports that its “review of 22,000 warnings and citations given by the [interdiction] teams from 2008 to 2012 showed that 86 percent went to non-Iowans.” Because Iowans are much better drivers, of course. “

 

Continue reading at Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Shakedown: Police Won’t Charge You, But They’ll Grab Your Money

 

 

 

 

 

 

” On its official website, the Canadian government informs its citizens that “there is no limit to the amount of money that you may legally take into or out of the United States.” Nonetheless, it adds, banking in the U.S. can be difficult for non-residents, so Canadians shouldn’t carry large amounts of cash.

That last bit is excellent advice, but for an entirely different reason than the one Ottawa cites.

There’s a shakedown going on in the U.S., and the perps are in uniform.

  Across America, law enforcement officers — from federal agents to state troopers right down to sheriffs in one-street backwaters — are operating a vast, co-ordinated scheme to grab as much of the public’s cash as they can; “hand over fist,” to use the words of one police trainer. “

  It usually starts on the road somewhere. An officer pulls you over for some minor infraction — changing lanes without proper signalling, following the car ahead too closely, straddling lanes. The offense is irrelevant.

  Then the police officer wants to chat, asking questions about where you’re going, or where you came from, and why. He’ll peer into your car, then perhaps ask permission to search it, citing the need for vigilance against terrorist weaponry or drugs.

What he’s really looking for, though, is money.

‘Authorities claim it’s legal, but some prosecutors and judges have called it what it is: abuse. In any case, it’s a nasty American reality.’

  And if you were foolish (or intimidated) enough to have consented to the search, and you’re carrying any significant amount of cash, you are now likely to lose it.

  The officer will probably produce a waiver, saying that if you just sign over the money then the whole matter will just disappear, and you’ll be able to go on your way.

  Refuse to sign it, and he may take the cash anyway, proclaiming it the probable proceeds of drugs or some other crime.

  Either way, you almost certainly won’t be charged with anything; the objective is to take your money, not burden the system.

  You’ll have the right to seek its return in court, but of course that will mean big lawyer’s fees, and legally documenting exactly where the money came from. You will need to prove you are not a drug dealer or a terrorist.

  It might take a year or two. And several trips back to the jurisdiction where you were pulled over. Sorry.

  In places like Tijuana, police don’t make any pretense about this sort of thing. Here in the U.S., though, it’s dressed up in terms like “interdiction and forfeiture,” or “the equitable sharing program.

  Authorities claim it’s legal, but some prosecutors and judges have called it what it is: abuse.

  In any case, it’s a nasty American reality.

  Seizing suspected drug money has been legal here for decades, but after 9/11 police acquired a whole new set of powers and justifications. And they set about using them for profit.

The Washington Post this week reported that in the past 13 years, there have been 61,998 cash seizures on roadways and elsewhere without use of search warrants. The total haul: $2.5 billion.

  As the Canadian government notes, there is no law against carrying it here or any legal limit on how much you can carry. But  if you’re on an American roadway with a full wallet, in the eyes of thousands of cash-hungry cops you’re a rolling ATM. “

 

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop And Seize

 

Stop & Seize

Click Pic For Video

 

 

 

” After the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the government called on police to become the eyes and ears of homeland security on America’s highways.

  Local officers, county deputies and state troopers were encouraged to act more aggressively in searching for suspicious people, drugs and other contraband. The departments of Homeland Security and Justice spent millions on police training.

  Behind the rise in seizures is a little-known cottage industry of private police-training firms that teach the techniques of “highway interdiction” to departments across the country.

  One of those firms created a private intelligence network known as Black Asphalt Electronic Networking & Notification System that enabled police nationwide to share detailed reports about American motorists — criminals and the innocent alike — including their Social Security numbers, addresses and identifying tattoos, as well as hunches about which drivers to stop.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iowa Cops Seize Almost $ 50,000 From A Couple , Didn’t Charge Them With A Crime

 

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” A Minnesota couple is suing the Iowa City Police Department to return almost $50,000, arguing police wrongfully seized that cash. Kearnice Overton was driving with his four kids on I-80 when Iowa City police pulled him over for speeding. Police brought a K-9 unit and based on the dog giving a “silent indicator on the vehicle,” police searched Overton’s car. They found $48,000.

   Drug sniffing dogs can have a very high false positive rate, i.e., they alert even when there are no drugs. Yet as the Institute for Justice demonstrated in an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court, “There are countless examples of police seizing large sums of cash based on nothing more than a positive dog alert.” Plus, in Iowa, law enforcement can keep 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeited property, creating an immense incentive to police for profit.”

 

Institute For Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Stossel – Policing For Profit

 

 

 

 

” Eapen Thampy (Americans for Forfeiture Reform) joins John to discuss a form of legalized theft called civil asset forfeiture.

Via Wikipedia

  There are two types of forfeiture cases, criminal and civil. Approximately half of all forfeiture cases practiced today are civil, although many of those are filed in parallel to a related criminal case.

  In civil forfeiture cases, the US Government sues the item of property, not the person; the owner is effectively a third party claimant.

  The burden is on the Government to establish that the property is subject to forfeiture by a “preponderance of the evidence.” If it is successful, the owner may yet prevail by establishing an “innocent owner” defense.”

Continued

A Driver Had $50,000 Seized By A Nevada Cop, But Wasn’t Charged With A Crime. Now He’s Getting His Money Back

 

 

 

 

” After Tan Nguyen was pulled over for driving three miles above the speed limit, he had $50,000 confiscated by a Nevada deputy.  According to Nguyen, that money was casino winnings.  As reported last week at Forbes, Nguyen“was not arrested or charged with a crime—not even a traffic citation.”

  He filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing his civil rights were violated by an “unconstitutional search and seizure.”  In that lawsuit, Nguyen claimed Deputy Lee Dove, who had pulled him over for speeding, threatened to seize and tow his car unless he “got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.”

  But in a settlement reached last week with Humboldt County, Nevada, Nguyen was fully reimbursed for all of the cash that was taken from him.  He also received $10,000 to cover attorney’s fees.  In addition, the settlement fully reimbursed $2,400 to Matt Lee, who, like Nguyen, was pulled over and had his cash confiscated by Dove on I-80.  Lee slammed that seizure as “highway robbery.” 

  The settlement is certainly great news for Nguyen and Lee.  As the Institute for Justice noted previously, victories in civil forfeiture cases are rather rare, partially because “many victims of civil forfeiture simply don’t have the resources to defend themselves in court.  Since litigation can cost more than the property that was taken, many seizures aren’t even contested.”  When wins do happen, they can make national headlines, as did IJ’s successful defense of property owners in MassachusettsCalifornia and Michigan.”

 

 

   It’s a step in the right direction , but as the article notes , it’s a victory for those two men only right now as the law remains in place .

 

 

” Yet the settlement for Nguyen and Lee does not affect Nevada’s abysmal civil forfeiture laws.  The state’s current system allows police to “seize property under a legal standard lower than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard used in criminal convictions.  Owners bear the burden of proof, meaning they have to prove their innocence in court.  In addition, law enforcement agencies keep 100 percent of the forfeiture proceeds.”  No wonder Nevada earned a D+ in IJ’s report, “Policing for Profit.” “

 

 

Read the whole thing at Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Couple May Lose Home In ‘Open Space’ Eminent Domain Seizure

 

 

 

” Andy and Ceil Barrie fell in love with and bought a three-bedroom home on a beautiful ten-acre property within the White River National Forest in Colorado, a sprawling reserve of 2.1 million acres. Only three years after purchasing the property and the house within it, county government officials, annoyed by the couple’s use of an ATV to drive to their property, are trying to to take the Barries’ home away.

  The county claims that it is seizing the property through eminent domain in order to preserve open space, according to an Associate Press report. The Barries say they have no plans to develop the land at all, and even let hikers travel through their property. Open space “is all it’s ever been,” Andy Barrie said.

  The Barries use an ATV to reach their home via a 1.2-mile mining road through the forest. After the U.S. Forest Service told the couple that they could not use a motorized vehicle to get to their property, the Barries claimed a legal right to use the road and are preparing to challenge the Forest Service in court.”

 

National Review has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Years After Kelo, The Seized Land Is Empty

 

 

 

” Nine years after the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision gutted the right of American property owners to resist eminent-domain seizures, the neighborhood at the center of the case remains a wasteland.”

 

 

 

 

    Meet American hero Suzette Kelo , a woman who , though she ultimately lost her case and her home , fought the good fight for all Americans and our property rights . This is her story .

 

 

   The Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in favor of the New London Development Corp was intended to provide land , waterfront mind you , for Pfizer pharmaceuticals to build new offices with the hopes of bringing many new jobs to the City of New London . It didn’t work out that way as Pfizer backed out and a few years later actually left New London altogether .

 

” Fort Trumbull in New London, Conn., was bulldozed to fulfill the vision of politicians and developers eager to create a New Urbanist mixed-use “hub” for upscale living in the depressed town near the mouth of Long Island Sound.”

   

 

 

” But after nearly a decade, the land is nothing but vacant urban prairie. After homeowners were forced off their property for the sake of “economic development,” the city’s original development deal fell apart, and the urban-renewal corporation that ordered the destruction has not found a developer to use the land.”

 

 

 

 

   The turning of the corner in the battle for individual property rights , this ruling allowed the State to force private landholders to sell for the benefit of other , better connected , private citizens . A truly disgraceful ruling that the Supreme Court should be ashamed of .

 

 

” Traditionally, these transfers of property, or eminent domain, had only allowed governments to acquire private lands in order to build a public structure like a school or highway. The Constitution permits seizures for such instances of “public use,” but the Supreme Court decision expanded that power to allow governments to acquire people’s land with “just compensation” for a “public purpose,” which in Kelo meant the government’s belief that a different owner might bring in more tax revenue.”

 

 

The opinion of the Court was decided thusly :

 

 

Majority and concurring

” On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, ruled in favor of the City of New London. Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony KennedyDavid SouterRuth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion setting out a more detailed standard for judicial review of economic development takings than that found in Stevens’s majority opinion. In so doing, Justice Kennedy contributed to the Court’s trend of turning minimum scrutiny—the idea that government policy need only bear a rational relation to a legitimate government purpose—into a fact-based test.

  In Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 US 229 (1984), the Court had said that the government purpose under minimum scrutiny need only be “conceivable which, practically speaking, is no standard at all because, as demonstrated by countless science fiction writers, anything is conceivable.” In two 1996 cases the Court clarified that concept. InRomer v. Evans, 517 US 620, the Court said that the government purpose must be “independent and legitimate.” And in United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, the Court said the government purpose “must be genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation.” Thus, the Court made it clear that, in the scrutiny regime established in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, 300 US 379 (1937), government purpose is a question of fact for the trier of fact.

  Kennedy fleshed out this doctrine in his Kelo concurring opinion; he sets out a program of civil discovery in the context of a challenge to an assertion of government purpose. However, he does not explicitly limit these criteria to eminent domain, nor to minimum scrutiny, suggesting that they may be generalized to all health and welfare regulation in the scrutiny regime. Because Kennedy signed on to the Court’s majority opinion, his concurrence is not binding on lower courts. He wrote:

  A court confronted with a plausible accusation of impermissible favoritism to private parties should [conduct]… a careful and extensive inquiry into ‘whether, in fact, the development plan [chronology]

[1.] is of primary benefit to… the developer… and private businesses which may eventually locate in the plan area…

[2.] and in that regard, only of incidental benefit to the city…'”

Kennedy is also interested in facts of the chronology which show, with respect to government,

[3.] awareness of… depressed economic condition and evidence corroborating the validity of this concern…

[4.] the substantial commitment of public funds… before most of the private beneficiaries were know…

[5.] evidence that [government] reviewed a variety of development plan…

[6.] [government] chose a private developer from a group of applicants rather than picking out a particular transferee beforehand and…

[7.] other private beneficiaries of the project [were]… unknown [to government] because the… space proposed to be built [had] not yet been rented…

  Kelo v. City of New London did not establish entirely new law concerning eminent domain. Although the decision was controversial, it was not the first time “public use” had been interpreted by the Supreme Court as “public purpose”. In the majority opinion, Justice Stevens wrote the “Court long ago rejected any literal requirement that condemned property be put into use for the general public” (545 U.S. 469). Thus precedent played an important role in the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court. The Fifth Amendment was interpreted the same way as in Midkiff (467 U.S. 229) and other earlier eminent domain cases. However in those earlier cases the court justified the use of eminent domain on the basis of elimination of social harms such as barriers to efficient exploitation of agricultural and mineral-bearing land, elimination of slums, or large-scale title misallocation. None of these factors were present in Kelo; it was a case in which the city merely wanted to increase its tax revenues, and attract a wealthier population in place of the lower middle class home owners in the redevelopment project area.”

 

 

The dissenting Justices had this to say :

 

” The principal dissent was issued on 25 June 2005 by Justice O’Connor, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas. The dissenting opinion suggested that the use of this taking power in a reverse Robin Hood fashion— take from the poor, give to the rich— would become the norm, not the exception:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

  O’Connor argued that the decision eliminates “any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively delete[s] the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” 125 S.Ct. 2655, 2671.

  Thomas also issued a separate originalist dissent, in which he argued that the precedents the court’s decision relied upon were flawed. He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” clause with a very different “public purpose” test:

This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a ‘public use.’

  Thomas additionally observed:

Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not.545 U.S. 469, 518 (2005)

  Thomas also made use of the argument presented in the NAACP/AARP/SCLC/SJLS amicus brief on behalf of three low-income residents’ groups fighting redevelopment in New Jersey, noting:

Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful.”

 

 

    This video from 2007 offers a discussion of the on-going affects of the Kelo decision from Duke university and a panel of property law experts …

 

 

 

 

 

 

    For further reading on the travesty of justice that is the Kelo decision and the continuing abuse of eminent domain by the State and the courts check out the Institute for Justice , which represented Ms Kelo and Ms Dery , the Cato Institute , Civil Liberty , Cornell University Law , Harvard Law , &  The Bill Of Rights Institute . 

    Here is the transcript of oral arguments presented by Scott G Bullock Esq. on behalf of the plaintiffs and here is a history of recent  eminent domain abuse for commercial gain from the Law Review at UC Davis .

 

   The Founders recognized private property rights as equally important to the liberty of citizens as freedom of speech and the right to bear arms  , for without the legal assurance of the natural right to keep and benefit from the fruits of one’s own labors the citizenry become nothing more than serfs .

   With that in mind we will close this post with some words of wisdom from the Founders that demonstrate just how far from their ideals this nation has fallen …

 

 

John Adams had this to say :

” The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

 

James Madison on the legitimate role of government :

” Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. … This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.”

We’ll let Thomas Jefferson have the last word on the subject of private property and takings :

“Nothing is ours, which another may deprive us of.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How The NYPD’s Use Of Civil Forfeiture Robs Innocent New Yorkers

 

 

” In the middle of the night in March of 2012, NYPD officers burst into the Bronx home of Gerald Bryan, ransacking his belongings, tearing out light fixtures, punching through walls, and confiscating $4,800 in cash. Bryan, 42, was taken into custody on suspected felony drug distribution, as the police continued their warrantless search. Over a year later, Bryan’s case was dropped. When he went to retrieve his $4,800, he was told it was too late: the money had been deposited into the NYPD’s pension fund. Bryan found himself trapped in the NYPD’s labyrinthine civil forfeiture procedure, a policy based on a 133-year-old law which robs poor New Yorkers of millions of dollars every year; a law that has been ruled unconstitutional twice.”

 

 

 

 

” ” They do this all the time, to so many people I know,” Bryan, a bartender of 21 years, told us in the office of the Bronx Defenders. Before the raid, he had planned on using the cash to take his girlfriend on a cruise. “A lot of people, when they get arrested, they know that their money is just gone, and they know that the police are taking it to enrich themselves.”

  Civil forfeiture, the act by which a municipality can seize money during an arrest, has always been a controversial weapon of law enforcement. The practice became more prevalent in the 1980s, when jurisdictions around the country began pursuing cases involving money in both civil and criminal court in an effort to fight organized crime and deprive criminals of their income, even if they couldn’t imprison them.

  This summer The New Yorker published a sprawling investigation on how cities use the practice to bolster their cash-strapped coffers by seizing the assets of the poor, often on trumped up charges.”

 

 

 

” The same is true in New York City, where the civil forfeiture process has long been used by the NYPD to seize money from those least likely to be able to get it back.

” It’s very difficult for the victims of , most of whom are from a lower socio-economic class, to do anything in the court system, much less win a civil forfeiture case,” said attorney David B. Smith, the nation’s leading expert on forfeiture law.”

 

 

 

 

” Any arrest in New York City can trigger a civil forfeiture case if money or property is found on or near a defendant, regardless of the reasons surrounding the arrest or its final disposition. In the past ten years, the NYPD has escalated the amount of civil forfeiture actions it pursues as public defense offices have been stretched thin by the huge amount of criminal cases across the city. 

One of the main problems with civil forfeiture is that you’re not assigned a lawyer, it being a civil and not a criminal case,” Smith explains. “Most people can’t afford lawyers, and that gives the government a tremendous advantage.” “

 

Legalized theft , pure and simple .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 And Not A Single Lawmaker Voted Against It

 

 

” A new report published by the Libertas Institute, a free market think tank, reveals how a little-known new law greatly weakened legal protections for property owners facing civil forfeiture in Utah.  Unlike criminal forfeiture, with civil forfeiture, someone does not have to be convicted of or even charged with a crime to permanently lose their property.

  Sponsors of the bill, HB 384, presented their amendments as a mere “re-codification” of the state’s forfeiture law.  While some of the changes to Utah’s forfeiture laws might appear minor, they have significant consequences.”

 

Read more at Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Ammoland

 

 

 

” An anti-freedom policy has been spreading across United States police departments, the legalized theft of citizens guns.

  Recently, it occurred in Georgia.  I am not talking about forfeiture laws.   They are related but have been covered elsewhere.

  This is a problem in many urban areas, and it is spreading.  The policy is to impound guns, in extreme cases, all guns that officers come across, whether involved in any crime or not, then to refuse to return the guns until a judge issues an order to return  them.   As the attorney fees needed to obtain a court order can easily be 10 times what the gun is worth, most people do not bother.

   Here is a case related by a student:  The student was stopped for a routine traffic stop.  While stopped, the officer asked him if he had any guns in the vehicle.  The student replied that he had rifles locked in the tool box that was attached to the bed of the pick up truck.  The officer demanded that the student open the tool box, which he did.  The officer then confiscated the rifles.  The student was never charged with a crime, but the police refused to return the rifles unless they received a court order ordering them to do so.

This reverses the presumption of innocence and the presumption of ownership that goes with possession of an item. “

 

Continued …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michigan Legislators Consider Making It More Difficult For Police To Steal

 

 

 

 

” Michigan legislators have introduced a pair of bills that would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws, which currently enable law enforcement agencies to seize property from innocent people easily and profitably. Michigan police departments and district attorneys have padded their budgets to the tune of $70 million in the last three years via forfeiture, according to Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice,* a law firm that litigates asset forfeiture.

  HB 5213 would require a criminal conviction before the police and prosecutors can forfeit property. Such a change is desirable because Michigan police and prosecutors have an unfortunate habit of taking peoples’ stuff even when the criminal charges that supposedly justify the forfeiture are dropped, dismissed, or otherwise jettisoned.

  HB 5081, meanwhile, would require seizing agencies to compile detailed reports on their forfeiture activities. Such a change is desirable because, apart from aggregates and anecdotes, information (on what is being seized, from whom, and why) is hard to come by. Also, transparency may encourage police to use funds more judiciously.

  Of course, the law routinely ensnares innocent people. We find out about them when they go to court. But some not-inconsequential number of forfeitures involve innocent owners who opt against a legal fight to recover items worth less than the cost of a lawyer.”

 

 

Reason.com has the story

 

 

 

 

 

 

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