Keeping the pressure on forfeiture reform

While Holder’s recent announcement about limiting federal adoption of civil forfeiture got a lot of people excited, it was important to realize (as we did) that the impact was very limited.

The danger was that people would think that Holder’s memo constituted real reform, and that we could relax. Fortunately, real reform is still being pushed.

As Jacob Sullum reports:

Today Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) reintroduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, which would revise federal civil forfeiture law to give property owners more protection and reduce the profit incentive that encourages law enforcement agencies to seize assets. […]

The FAIR Act abolishes the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, which allows police to evade state limits on forfeiture by using federal law to confiscate people’s property.[…]

The FAIR Act requires the government to prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that property is subject to forfeiture. […]

In cases where the government argues that an asset is forfeitable because it was used to facilitate criminal activity, the FAIR Act puts the burden on the government to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the owner himself used the property for illegal purposes or that he “knowingly consented or was willfully blind to the use of the property.” […]

The FAIR Act would allow [structuring] forfeiture only when the owner “knowingly” sought to avoid bank reports of “funds not derived from a legitimate source.”[…]

In determining whether a forfeiture is constitutionally excessive, a court is supposed to consider not only “the seriousness of the offense” (as under current law) but also “the extent of the nexus of the property to the offense,” “the range of sentences available for the offense,” “the fair market value of the property,” and “the hardship to the property owner and dependents.” […]

The FAIR act expands the current guarantee of legal representation for property owners who cannot afford it from forfeitures involving primary residences to all forfeitures. […]

This is real reform, and it needs to happen.

We need to really keep up the pressure on our representatives to stop the practice of theft by law enforcement.

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24 Responses to Keeping the pressure on forfeiture reform

  1. jean valjean says:

    There once was a time when theft by law enforcement was limited to removing a kilo or two from a drug bust to sell back to the black market. Now of course it is just brazen and has become legitimized by the courts. Michele Leonhart has told Congress that this scam is one of the most “useful” tools available to her brand of L.E. and will fight tooth and nail to retain it. Time for a congressional investigation I think.

  2. kaptinemo says:

    OT: Nancy Grace(less) is at it again:

    Reefer Madness II: Nancy Grace argues with NORML chair and Dr. Drew about marijuana. And true to form, when they can’t win with reason, they attack with ad hominems.

    Crazier and crazier and crazier they become. They really don’t see how that looks to those they want to influence. It’s embarrassing, really.

    • Frank W. says:

      I wouldn’t worry about Nancy Grace. A flaming meteor like Sarah Palin. But I’d like a well-publicized Chuck Grassley Death Watch (current state of health, carbon-dating analysis, etc).

      • Duncan20903 says:


        I’m more worried about finding Dr. Drew sitting on our side of the table. How in the heck did that happen?

        Miss Nancy should exploit her natural talents in a campaign against excessive drinking alcohol consumption. “If you drink until blackout you might wake up in bed with this woman! If the audience is truly hardcore then she could team up with Linda Taylor…there’s no way out of this bed young man! Bah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Oh nuts, now my naughty parts have run up into my abdomen to hide.

  3. thelbert says:

    we should make our fellow citizens aware of the heartlessness of policemen that will confiscate the homes of people caring for little children with dravet’s syndrome and the like. prohibiting a medicine as easy to make as cannabis is a crime against every human on earth. i don’t expect much out of our congress, because i don’t see much intelligence or cooperation happening there.

  4. Frank W. says:

    Now listening to Lindsey “Tennessee Williams” Graham questioning AG candidate Lynch on dope. She’s either a good prohibitionist or a good liar.

    • “Lynch was also clear when asked by Sessions if she supports the legalization of marijuana. “Senator, I do not,” she said, adding that it would not be the position of the Department of Justice if she was nominated.”

      Is anyone in Washington interested in what the American people want? Its time for them to find out that their hard ass prohibitionist tough on crime act is not the agenda or attitude that America wants. The war on drugs is a war on the American people.

      It’s time for change.

      • jean valjean says:

        Deeply depressing listening to Lynch on immigration, the death penalty and of course the drug war. She’s just a photofit Republicrat like the rest of them. It didn’t take Al Franken long to become corrupted by Washington either. Throw the bums out and start again.

  5. Will says:

    Does anyone know what happened to the FAIR Act of 2014? Was it voted down, or did it land in a committee whose chairman didn’t allow it to come up for a vote? I suspect the latter but so far I haven’t found the info.

  6. Duncan20903 says:

    Shumlin on marijuana: ‘Been there, done that’

    MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin says his days of smoking marijuana are over, even if the Vermont Legislature votes to legalize the drug.

    Shumlin stopped using marijuana as he grew into adulthood, he recounted during a news conference at the Statehouse.

    “Been there, done that,” Shumlin said. “My guess is that a lot of Vermonters of my generation feel like I do about marijuana, which is, it is something we smoked when we were young. … As I took on more responsibility or I don’t know what in my late 20s, I just found that it wasn’t much fun anymore.

    Give me a second, I’ll track down the betting pool file for the “first sitting Governor to make cannabis for enjoyment sound like it’s just plain boring” and see if we have a winner.

    • strayan says:

      You don’t have to smoke cannabis if it’s legal?


      • strayan says:

        Sorry to chime in again… but I’m having a little bit of trouble getting my head around this. Just so I understand correctly, you’re saying that I won’t have to go out and buy some cannabis right-away once it’s legal?

        I mean I’ve tried illegal cannabis and I don’t enjoy the psychoactive effect but legal pot is different, right? Surely I’ll just develop a new-found liking for the effect of cannabis lose total control myself. Surely.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          It’s more than what Gov. Shumlin said that made me think that his quote was remarkable. He didn’t include even a single micron of hysterical rhetoric, no reefer madness, not a single bald faced lie, no half truths, no regurgitated government propaganda, did not mention “the children”

          But yeah, one of the most puzzling things that so many people believe is that there is a large cohort of people who refuse to choose to enjoy cannabis for no other reason than because it’s illegal. Why just the other day in this very forum we heard that

          there are large fractions of nonusers who cite legal status as a significant motivator of their use patterns.”-DrugMonkey

          Still no explanation of the huge increase of people who chose to enjoy cannabis during the 1960s despite the status of petty possession as a serious felony in every State in the Union.

  7. Francis says:

    The FAIR Act sounds like it might actually be pretty … fair. (Or at least a move in the direction of greater fairness.) Doesn’t that violate a well-established naming convention for Congressional legislation?

  8. Plant Down Babylon says:

    The Kops better do something soon. There’s a lot of people in this country fed up with their antics.

    It is never wise to go against the will of ‘the people’. That’s how someone can get hurt. I would never authorize violence, but you gotta know when you’re outnumbered (by a very large margin) that when the pendulum swings, it isn’t pretty.

  9. This attracted my attention when I saw Bill Bennett’s name.

    Stirring up trouble in Colorado’s backyard.

    • primus says:

      That looks like something we all should attend, especially if we can get the media to also attend, and report the resulting hullaballoo.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Don’t they make him buy two seats on the airplane when he wants to fly somewhere?

  10. kaptinemo says:

    Addicted to booze, addicted to tobacco, addicted to gambling, oh yes, he’s the perfect person to lecture young people on morality. This is the man who mused publicly about summary decapitations for dealers. Would you let him near your kids?

    So indicative of prohibitionists. Their unconscious arrogance is matched by an equally unconscious hypocritical self-righteousness. As if they were the Calvinist ‘Elect’ cuz “God told ’em so.”.

    The last 40 years have shown what happens when you let these ‘wholesome’ control freaks/Mayberry Machiavellis play with the buttons and levers of power. The reform movement plays no small part in prying their white-knuckled hands away from the life-support machinery of governance…before their mania does even more irreparable damage to the ship of state.

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