Articles Tagged with Civil Asset Forfeiture

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anno-1900-clothes-clothes-line-54611-300x201U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is seeking forfeiture action on 52 cartons of men’s briefs that were in a shipment presented for entry into the U.S. at Long Beach Seaport on April 16, 2015.

Entry documents identified the shipment’s importer as Sunshine Import International Corporation. The shipment came from Xiamen, China.

According to the forfeiture complaint, the shipment was seized by CBP on May 18, 2015, and is currently in the agency’s custody. A warehouse inspection by CBP allegedly revealed that the briefs bore a possible infringement of the “leaping cat” design that is a registered trademark belonging to sporting goods manufacturer Puma.

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justice-2060093_1920-300x200Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned effective immediately. Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, has been named as acting attorney general in his place. Sessions was a champion of civil asset forfeiture—he reinstated a federal forfeiture program that had been restricted by Eric Holder, his predecessor. Without Sessions at the Department of Justice (DOJ), there is uncertainty over the future of this program.

Sessions faced bipartisan opposition for his championing of civil asset forfeiture. “I’m amazed these people don’t get it. We had a reform in early 2001… relieved some of the concerns from our libertarians,” said Sessions in 2017. The Obama administration, he continued, “actually curtailed this program for the last several years, but we’re going to keep it out there. And as long as we can, we will be doing it.”
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architecture-beach-buildings-702343-300x200Last year, law enforcement in Wayne County, Michigan seized the property of 380 people and never gave it back even though those people were not charged with any crime. This type of seizure happened more times in Wayne County than in the rest of Michigan’s counties combined.

The property was taken using a procedure known as civil asset forfeiture. This is a legal process where law enforcement may seize an individual’s assets—including cash, a vehicle, or even a home—if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, criminal charges do not need to be filed for property to be taken.
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close-up-doctor-health-42273-300x200A year after a Michigan doctor was acquitted of criminally overprescribing medication, a judge has ordered that the $6.2 million in assets seized during the investigation be returned to him.

Dr. Joseph Edwin Oesterling of Saginaw in Central Michigan had been accused of running a “pill mill,” a term used by investigators to describe a doctor who inappropriately gives out medication, often for non-medical reasons.
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sunset-49383_1920-300x225For more than three months, police departments in Mississippi have seized property from individuals with no legal authority after a forfeiture law quietly lapsed. Law enforcement agencies say they did not notice the lapse.

The law in question had allowed police agencies to seize cash or property suspected of being involved with illicit drugs unless the owner challenged it in court within 30 days of the seizure. This procedure is called “administrative forfeiture” and was used for seizures which totaled less than $20,000. For larger sums, “judicial forfeiture” was used. Judicial forfeiture requires law enforcement agencies to sue in court in order to have a judge sanction the forfeiture. The burden of proof for judicial forfeitures is also higher than for administrative forfeitures.
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