Articles Tagged with supreme court

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blur-cannabis-close-up-606506-300x200Ten years ago, the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET) raided Steven Fager’s property in Discovery Bay, Washington. They found 10 pounds of processed marijuana and 275 marijuana plants. Steven and his brother, Timothy, were charged with possession of drugs with the intent to deliver. They were also charged with defrauding the Jefferson County Public Utility District by diverting power for their own uses.

At the same time as they filed criminal charges, law enforcement attempted to use civil asset forfeiture to take Steven’s property. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal procedure where law enforcement can take an individual’s property if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, it is not necessary for the property owner to be convicted of a crime—or even charged with one. Additionally, in Washington state, it is the owners who bear the onus of demonstrating the innocence of their property to be able to get it back.
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In September 2015, Jean Carlos Herrera was driving his 16-year-old SUV from New York to Los Angeles when law enforcement in Iowa pulled him over. The police did not charge Jean Carlos with any crime. Nonetheless, they seized both his car and the $45,000 in cash they found inside.

When he was pulled over in Pottawattamie County, Jean Carlos refused to allow the police officer to search his vehicle. Despite this, the officer nonetheless examined his car, claiming there were inconsistencies between the story Herrera and his passenger told about why there were traveling across the country. According to a court record, a police dog also examined the car and detected narcotics. No drugs were found in the car.
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A case of civil asset forfeiture involving a Hoosier’s seized Land Rover may end up on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket. If they agree to hear the case, it could transform the approach of law enforcement to civil asset forfeiture across the nation.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process where law enforcement can seize property suspected of being involved in a crime. It is legal in most states, and few states require a criminal conviction for the property to be seized. Proceeds from the profits of civil asset forfeiture are often used to fund law enforcement, leading to accusations of policing for profit. Continue reading

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Civil asset forfeiture has gotten more attention in recent years as innocent victims’ stories make national headlines: A Wisconsin man had his life savings taken away by police based on no evidence, money he had planned to open a music studio with; an Alabama car dealer had his reputation and business forever tainted by the seizure and subsequent prosecution of his assets.

But civil asset forfeiture hasn’t always taken this form, and its potential for abuse largely depends on which state one resides in. In fact, civil asset forfeiture has a long history going back to the Middle Ages. Continue reading

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Let freedom ring! Today, America shined bright.  Today, America proclaimed to posterity, once again, why she is a morally great nation.  Today, pause, America created a more perfect union.

Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court in Obergefell v. Hodges.  He also delivered the final blow to one of the remaining Civil Rights battlegrounds in the Global war for human liberty – Gay Marriage Equality.

Whether you are gay, straight, not sure, or damning everyone to hell – equal protection under the law keeps you free. The very foundation of Western civilization depends on it.  This article explains why…

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