Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Ind. Law - Still more on "Could Indiana pass forfeiture reform this year?"
Updating this March 2nd ILB post on civil forfeiture, here is the current printing of Senate Bill 8, which has passed the Senate and is now in House Courts and Criminal Code, where it has not yet been set for a hearing.
Some items of interest re civil forfeiture:
- From an article by Damon Ross in Reason, dated March 6, that begins:
Today the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case filed by a Texas woman who says that her due process rights were violated when the police seized over $200,000 in cash from her family despite the fact that no one has been convicted of any underlying crime associated with the money. Unfortunately, thanks to the state's sweeping civil asset forfeiture laws, the authorities were permitted to take the money of this innocent woman.
The Supreme Court offered no explanation today for its refusal to hear the case of Lisa Olivia Leonard v. Texas. But one member of the Court did speak up. In a statement respecting the denial of certiorari in the case, Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear that he believes the current state of civil asset forfeiture law is fundamentally unconstitutional.
"This system—where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use—has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses," Thomas declared.
Furthermore, he wrote, the Supreme Court's previous rulings on the matter are starkly at odds with the Constitution, which "presumably would require the Court to align its distinct doctrine governing civil forfeiture with its doctrines governing other forms of punitive state action and property deprivation." Those other doctrines, Thomas noted, impose significant checks on the government, such as heightened standards of proof, various procedural protections, and the right to a trial by jury. Civil asset forfeiture proceedings, by contrast, offer no such constitutional safeguards for the rights of person or property.
- The Washington Post links to the 6-page "Statement of Justice Thomas." Eugene Volokh quotes from the statement.
- The Indiana Supreme Court is hearing oral argument March 23rd in State of Indiana v. Tyson Timbs and a 2012 Land Rover LR2:
The State sought forfeiture of a Land Rover owned by Timbs, who had pled guilty to Class B Felony dealing in a controlled substance and Class C Felony theft. The Grant Superior Court entered judgment for Timbs on the forfeiture complaint. A majority of the Court of Appeals affirmed on grounds forfeiture of the vehicle, worth approximately $40,000, would violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines. State v. Timbs, 62 N.E.3d 472 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016), vacated.
- Civil asset forfeiture is the subject of a long article in a conservative publication, Townhall. Some quotes:
In a paper published by the Journal of Criminal Justice, California State University-San Bernardino criminal justice professor John Worrall surveyed 1,400 city and state government law enforcement officials about civil asset forfeiture, correlating the poll with data from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Systems. The results are not surprising: A plurality—nearly 40 percent—of government law enforcement officials who responded to Worrall’s survey confirmed civil asset forfeiture is financially necessary for their operations.
Worrall also found government law enforcement’s dependence on civil asset forfeiture is linked to government support for the practice. The reason for the link is as simple as it seems: Civil asset forfeiture benefits the government, and it does so at the expense of the people.
“The highly significant relationship between total proceeds received and dependence on civil forfeiture suggests, reasonably enough, that the agencies that not only engaged in comparatively more civil asset forfeitures, but also received generous revenues from such activities, throughout the past 3 years, came to depend on the practice more readily,” Worrall wrote. “That is, the more certain law enforcement agencies received in the way of forfeiture proceeds, the more likely they were to depend on such revenues.”
- The ILB has a very long list of posts on civil asset forfeiture. Some illustrative posts:
- Aug. 15, 2010 - "Ind. Law - Asset Forfeiture Laws And The Common School Fund."
- Nov. 7, 2010 - Ind. Courts - "Forfeiture Law Invites Abuse Of The System" - An outstanding, must-read investigative piece on asset forfeitures begins on the front-page of today's Indianapolis Star, reported by the team of Heather Gillers, Mark Alesia and Tim Evans.
- April 29, 2011 - Ind. Decisions - Still More On: Supreme Court Decides Civil Forfeiture Case - Wednesday's decision by the Supreme Court in Martin Serrano v. State of Indiana and the City of Fort Wayne, and particularly the dicta in footnote 3, is the focus of an Indianapolis Star a must-read story today by Heather Gillers, headed "After state high court opinion, question remains: who is entitled to forfeitures? State high court opinion casts further doubt on whether law enforcement can keep seized assets."
- Jan. 16, 2015 - AG Holder Today Barred Local And State Police From Using Federal Law To Seize Cash, Cars And Other Property Without Evidence That A Crime Occurred
- Feb. 11, 2016 - "Ind. Gov't. - More On: Institute For Justice Files Suit Challenging Indianapolis Civil Forfeiture System"
- Dec. 29, 2016 - Jeff Sessions and Civil Forfeiture.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 7, 2017 09:33 AM
Posted to Indiana Law