Charges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Charges.

So if I may, I would like to explain the basic problems with asset forfeiture in simple and straightforward terms. In their opposition to it, the editors at National Review said, “Asset forfeiture is a constitutionally questionable practice,” and while it was good to see them calling for Jeff Sessions to get a hold of himself, I would prefer to call it constitutionally damnable. The Attorney General just loosened some of the restrictions on the godless practice that the Obama administration had placed on it . . .

Excuse me. I have to go lie down for a bit.

Over the last decade, the government has seized 3 billion (with a b) worth of goods from people who were never charged with a crime. This can happen because the bulk of cases come from civil cases. That’s right. They can just take your stuff, never charge you, and never return it. Your stuff—the French always have an apt phrase—is les gone.

Just because the police like it, and just because it seems strict, and just because it cracks the heads of some drug kingpins, doesn’t make it good law. It is still vile. It is wicked, and the fact that some Republicans like it doesn’t alter that fact. It is a due process defenestration. If someone in law enforcement thinks that some money he saw in the trunk of your car may have been obtained illicitly (e.g. selling drugs), then he can just take it. His department can spend it.

So we are talking about perverse incentives here. For another example of “policing for profit,” say a municipality sets up traffic cameras in order to catch speeders and “it-was-not-quite-red-yet traffic light ignorers,” and as a consequence they start to get a nice little revenue stream from it. But now the purpose inexorably shifts from traffic safety to maintaining the revenue stream. So now your municipality needs you to speed in the same way that Baskins & Robbins needs you to want three scoops right about now.

Attorney General Sessions adjusted the asset forfeiture rules so that local police departments could get around state laws against asset forfeiture by sharing the loot with the Feds.

So there are three basic reasons to be appalled at this Institutional Larceny.

First, there is the Tenth Amendment to be concerned about. If a state has taken action to protect its citizens against ungodly asset forfeiture, the federal government has no business waltzing in to take that protection away.

Second, the big one, is that this practice insults the practice of, the idea of, and the memory of, due process. Even when a cop finds cash in the trunk of a car of an actual drug dealer, one guilty as sin, it is gross violation of due process to execute part of the sentence, perhaps the heaviest portion of the sentence, before a trial. If there is a trial. Trial? Sentencing before a trial, and sentencing without a trial, is the kind of thing that might fly in Sharkey’s Shire. But why here?

And third, we ought not to agree to live in a society where those charged with keeping order have built-in financial incentives to jigger with the scales of justice. Talk about a conflict of interest. Golly Ned. Sometimes it seems the War on Drugs has resulted in all our rulers taking them. Maybe they seized some of those assets too.

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scott.j
Member

Entering from Canada to the US, the American customs agent would ask, “Do you have more than $10,000 in US currency on you? If he seemed pleasant, I’d usually respond with, “I wish!”

They’re not so jovial anymore, and earlier this month they asked whether I had $1000 or more. The noose is getting tighter.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

They could start by seizing Trump Tower, since there is at least as much evidence that it was used to facilitate illegal meetings with Russians as there is evidence to support most other seizures. Not holding my breath.

As far as Sessions goes, most of y’all voted for the guy that picked him. I didn’t.

adad0
Member

Seize a Manhattan office tower?

I’m pretty sure the Feds couldn’t even lift it!

Even if they were “stronger together”!

????

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2 your argument brings up other thoughts: seize the Clinton Foundation funds and all the Clinton propertyfor their illegal activity; seize Eric Holder’s property for his efforts in gun running; seize Lois Lerner’s property for her efforts in using the IRS to punish and steal from conservative groups. And wd can’t forget Obama’s energy company deals that were set up to move taxpayer money into the pockets of his friends.

Yup! Lots to be done, thats for sure.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, except for the minor detail that neither the Clintons, nor Eric Holder, nor Lois Lerner, nor Obama, supported expanding civil asset forfeiture. The current administration does. So it seems to me that the appropriate place to begin is with those who think it’s a good policy, and that was my point. And even if all those Democrats had supported civil asset forfeiture abuse, it would still not be an apples to apples comparison, because Trump Tower was actually used for the meeting with the Russians; I’m not aware that Clinton, Holder, Lerner, Obama et al. used their personal property… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Hahahahahahaha!

Jane
Member

On what evidence do you assert that none of those people supported expanding civil asset forfeiture?

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Well, Obama and Holder actually restricted the practice, and Sessions is currently rolling back the reforms they put in place. Lerner didn’t hold an office in which her views on civil asset forfeiture would have been relevant, and a google search doesn’t show she’s ever said anything on the subject. Bill Clinton signed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 which made things slightly better — not much better, but some better — and after he left office he made public statements that it needs to be restricted (and that some drugs should be decriminalized). And Hillary Clinton’s campaign… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2, you are a bad troll. Only the most ardent Clinton supporters believe that Hillary hit big on the Chicago Board of Trade. Only the most ardent supporters believe that Vince Foster made his way to Marcy Park and bumped himself off there. Only the most ardent supporters don’t believe that Hillary, Bill, and the others didn’t steal money by the bank load. The insiders already know where the money and the dirt is and try to keep the cash flow moving. That is painfully obvious to those of us who follow our politics. I am all in favor of… Read more »

Krychek-2
Guest
Krychek-2

But again, even assuming you’re right on the facts, none of them supported expanding civil asset forfeiture, a point that seems lost on you. Trump and Sessions do. This thread is about civil asset forfeiture and my point is that the place to start is with people who think it’s a good idea.

Find me prominent Democrats who support civil asset forfeiture and who are known lawbreakers. That will be an apples to apples comparison. Otherwise you’re just changing the subject.

Jane
Member

Fair enough. Your assertion about Lerner may have been an overreach but I’m content with that response.

David Trounce
Guest
David Trounce

How bizarre. What is your definition of an illegal meeting?

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

David, a meeting held for the purpose of engaging in illegal activities.

David Trounce
Guest
David Trounce

WhatYeah, it’s’ the illegal bit you need to define – what occurred to make any meeting they had against the law? What law was broken?

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

It is illegal for a foreign government to attempt to influence an American election, and it is illegal for any American to help one of it does. There is an email to Donald Trump, Jr. from the Russian government expressing their interest in meeting with him so they could give him dirt on Hillary Clinton. That’s certainly probable cause to seize the building where the meeting took place.

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2 is conveniently forgetting Hillary’s pay to play conferences while Secretary of State.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Did Hillary support expanding asset forfeiture? I’d be interested in seeing a citation if you have one. If not, she’s irrelevant to this conversation.

Katecho
Member

Krychek_2 wrote:

Did Hillary support expanding asset forfeiture? I’d be interested in seeing a citation if you have one. If not, she’s irrelevant to this conversation.

It’s become a big tip off when Krychek_2 suddenly becomes concerned about conversational relevance.

If he has so much regard for strict relevance, maybe he can explain how his statement that:

There is an email to Donald Trump, Jr. from the Russian government expressing their interest in meeting with him so they could give him dirt on Hillary Clinton.

is relevant to civil asset forfeiture.

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2, Bill and Hillary seized a substantial portion of the Arkansas health care money when they were king and queen of Arkansas. You really need to stop supporting those individuals with a history of saying one thing and doing another. So the Clintons and Obama would say, we support the little guy yet turn around and take their money and whatever else could be plundered. Actions speak louder than TV sound bites.

Katecho
Member

Krychek_2 wrote: It is illegal for a foreign government to attempt to influence an American election, and it is illegal for any American to help one of it does. Illegal under what jurisdiction? Is there some international law that bars influencing other nations’ elections? What statute is Krychek_2 referring to that was broken? Why is Putin subject to it? Was it illegal when Obama directly influenced the recent French election of Macron, by publicly endorsing and campaigning for him? Why did Obama get a pass for that? What about respect for French democracy, and all that? Was it illegal for… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

David, that would include the meetings the Clintons had to increase the Clinton Foundation by pay to play when Hillary was Secratary of State. It would include the plane that Bill met Loretta Lynch on to discussus issues that would prevent problems in the cash flow. K2 is a troll.

Krychek-2
Guest
Krychek-2

Dave, assuming you’re right on the facts (and I’m not sure you are), none of the individuals involved supports civil asset forfeiture. I realize it’s tempting to change the subject when you can’t win on the issue that’s actually being discussed, but try hard to find examples that are apples to apples. Otherwise I’ll accept your concession that you can’t.

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2 as a troll, for a long time, you changed the subject or ran away whenever you were cornered. Lois Lerner used the IRS to target conservative groups and individuals. As a result those agencies spent big bucks defending themselves so that the IRS didn’t take everything and put them out of business. I am right on the facts. Remember, Nixon would have been impeached for using the IRS as weapon but Obama’s administration covered up that offense. You quoted a Washington Post article below. For decades the Post has been known as a paper with innacurate reporting. During Vietnam,… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, for the last time, none of those Democrats supported expanding civil asset forfeiture (and that increase under Holder includes states seizures, over which he had no control). If you really can’t understand that distinction even after it’s been explained to you multiple times, then there’s no reason to think you’ll get it after another explanation so I’m now going on to other things. I haven’t said there’s never been criminality by a Democrat. What I’ve said is that if we’re going to expand civil asset forfeiture, the place to start is with corrupt politicians *who support civil asset forfeiture*.… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2, Obama and the Clinton used the rule “Do as I say, don’t do as I do.” Years of hard evidence showed that they participated in seizing as much as they could. Your plattitudes and for the last time comments can’t get past the evidence. Look behind the curtain a bit. Both sides are dirty, its just that the democrats are significantly dirtier. It doesn’t matter if you say you are against seizure when you turn around and direct your staff to pick the bones clean. Under Obama seizures went way up even though he said he was against such… Read more »

Paulie
Guest
Paulie

You can’t handle Ted Beale? So special.

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

In my experience, things seized are often returned unless they cannot be possessed legally. Seizure and forfeiture are different things. Asset forfeiture is reserved, on a local level, as a consequence of conviction of crime. Additionally, it’s not accurate that the PD can just take kingpin’s cash and spend it. There are very complex procedures that are followed and said kingpin has procedures to contest forfeiture before it happens. In the interest of due respect to law enforcement, it may be useful to do a bit more research on how the process works before ranting.

John
Member

Please become informed regarding the police in Oklahoma and how they were basically stealing items right out of any car they stopped. This was especially bad on I 40.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dawn, in fact the cops just take your property and it is difficult and expensive to get it returned. John mentioned Oaklahoma cops and you should read the stories of confiscation in that state. In Colorado, the Parker police took a building that the judge did not authorize. A year later it was the town police headquarters and when the judge declaired the operation illegal search and seizure the cops kept the building and the business they took was out of business. The rules are only complex if you are attempting to retrieve your property — the cops just take… Read more »

Antecho
Guest
Antecho

Dawn,
Your supplemental comments to what Doug wrote are interesting.
What experience have you had so that you are knowledgeable about the return of legally possessed seizures, and about the procedural complexity that is followed in seizure/forfeiture?

Ginny Yeager
Guest
Ginny Yeager

“Asset forfeitures surpass burglaries”

https://twitter.com/LettieriDC/status/887092429450510340

Nathan Smith
Member

Dobbs: “If you’re the police, then where are your badges?”
Gold Hat: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

Classic. Great post title. And I agree 100%.

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

This is actually a positive development. Sessions introduced new restrictions on the practice when he re-authorized it – thus indicating that he realizes that it has been abused in the past. Clarence Thomas, and perhaps others on the SC, have begun to raise doubts about the legal precedents that back it up. Congressmen and Senators are denouncing it. Most importantly, it appears to be one of the very few issues in the current political climate that unite folks on normally on different sides. The National Review on the right and Slate on the left have both denounced civil asset forfeiture.… Read more »

1420
Guest
1420

The term “asset forfeiture” conveniently carries the connotation of compliance, as if it were voluntary or consensual. “Property seizure at the point of the sword” goes down less smoothly.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Asset forfeiture. Longer sentences for everything in all circumstances. Ramp up war on marijuana.

Sessions has been pushing for one awful criminal justice idea after another.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Thank you for posting this pastor Wilson. A great deal of the most egregious “big government” over reaches are carried out by the party in red, and too often ignored. I respect you calling this obvious one out quickly and bluntly.

Katecho
Member

Jonathan wrote: A great deal of the most egregious “big government” over reaches are carried out by the party in red, and too often ignored. Many of Jonathan’s posts seem to be blinded by an unconscious partisanship, to the point that he becomes oblivious to basic facts. Ginny Yeager had just posted a link to a handy graph showing the growth of the plague of asset forfeiture that now eclipses burglary (see https://twitter.com/LettieriDC/status/887092429450510340 ). The red party may be guilty of many egregious things but the irony with regard to Jonathan’s commentary is that the rapid spike in asset forfeiture… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

From Pastor Wilson’s post: “The Attorney General just loosened some of the restrictions on the godless practice that the Obama administration had placed on it . . .” and “Attorney General Sessions adjusted the asset forfeiture rules so that local police departments could get around state laws against asset forfeiture by sharing the loot with the Feds.” As far as the link, you appear to have misread it. There is some short-term random noise in those numbers – mostly flat from 2009-2011, a spike up in 2012, a spike back down in 2013, and a minor spike up again in… Read more »

Ginny Yeager
Guest
Ginny Yeager

The graph shows that asset forfeitures increased about 1 billion during Bush’s last four years from about 800 million in 2004 to about 1.8 billion in 2008 (rate = 1/4 billion/year). Then there is about a 4.4 billion increase during the first 6 years of Obama to over 5 billion total (>2/3 billion/year). The original WaPo article points out that forfeitures taken by states and cities aren’t even included in the billion dollar graph; with those amounts, the numbers would be even higher. This includes deep blue areas like Chicago (http://reason.com/blog/2017/06/13/poor-neighborhoods-hit-hardest-by-asset). It isn’t a Republican/Democrat issue–it’s a Big Government issue.… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Ginny Yeager wrote:

It isn’t a Republican/Democrat issue–it’s a Big Government issue.

Exactly.

Unfortunately, Jonathan consistently places himself on the side of Big Government and its interventions. So when faced with startling abuses, he must resort to partisan logic. It just can’t be Big Government’s fault.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

“Unfortunately, Jonathan consistently places himself on the side of Big Government and its interventions.”

That is a lie you have repeated over and over, without evidence, no matter how often I have corrected you.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

“It isn’t a Republican/Democrat issue–it’s a Big Government issue.”

That is absolutely true, and no different than what I was saying.

Katecho
Member

Jonathan wrote: That is absolutely true, and no different than what I was saying. No different? As Jonathan defends Obama and Holder (under which asset forfeiture more than doubled), we simply remind him of his partisan jab. A great deal of the most egregious “big government” over reaches are carried out by the party in red, and too often ignored. It’s quite a double-standard Jonathan has going, never mind that he was the one who tried to make it a Republican issue in the first place. As I was saying, Jonathan’s partisan blame-shifting rhetoric, and blindness to blue party abuses… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

(minor note though – your math on the Obama increase is off by over a million dollars. 1.8 to 5.2 is only a 3.4 billion dollar increase. That’s approximately 0.57 billion/year, which is almost exactly the same as the 0.5 billion/year increase over the final two years of the Bush administration. And that completely ignores that the graph stops at the exact moment when Holder signed the laws limiting asset forfeiture, so we don’t get to see the positive impact that the Obama administration’s limitations of the practice then had.)

Ginny Yeager
Guest
Ginny Yeager

What’s a billion among friends? :)
The issue isn’t Blue or Red and if you try to frame it that way, Big Government is the only one who wins.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Absolutely agree Ginny, as I have said multiple times on this blog and praised Pastor Wilson for in the comment that literally started this whole exchange.

bethyada
Member

Not just against your constitution, against natural law. This is so obviously dishonest it seems bizarre that states have not quickly outlawed the practice. When I talk to Americans about this they don’t believe me. They think I misunderstand the situation in the US.

It seems at least one of your justices thinks the practice is questionable. Thomas must be one of your best ever judges.

Katecho
Member

The downfall of America will very likely take us completely by surprise. We live in a reality distortion bubble where we have been instructed from our youth that banana republic kinds of things like this just can’t happen here, by definition. For example, we have cognitive dissonance when confronted by our national debt. We have to somehow rationalize it as normal. Our entire monetary system is a lie that we all willingly live daily.,..until we don’t.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

No reason the downfall of America should take anyone by surprise; Trump spent the entire campaign very candidly stating that he has no respect for the rule of law, for democratic institutions, or for a free press. What we saw is what we’ve now gotten. And the current Congress shows no inclination to rein him in.

Paulie
Guest
Paulie

Krychek2 no longer can handle the arguments at VoxDay so he comes here to spew his spittle.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Don’t believe I’ve ever read or posted at VoxDay.

Kevin Brendler
Guest
Kevin Brendler

” … reality distortion bubble ….”

I’ll take that one with me.

Sharp, concise analysis. Well said.

Liam Drzycimski
Guest
Liam Drzycimski

Thanks for the great article!