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Incredible as it sounds, civil asset forfeiture laws allow the government to seize property without charging anyone with a crime. Until FEAR achieved the nation's first major federal forfeiture law reform at the turn of the millenium, the government was allowed to keep whatever property it seized without ever having to prove a case. Seized property was presumed guilty and could be forfeited based upon mere hearsay—even a tip supplied by by an informant who stood to gain up to 25% of the forfeited assets. Owners were forced into the untenable situation of trying to prove a negative—that something never happened, even though no proof of any illegal act had been offered at trial.
Newspapers and television stories across the nation documented hundreds of cases of innocent citizens wrongfully deprived of their homes, businesses and livlihoods. Eighty percent of property forfeited to the US during the previous decade was seized from owners who were never even charged with a crime! Over $7 billion has been forfeited to the federal government since 1985. Until the advent of FEAR law enforcement officials promoting expanded forfeiture laws comprised the overwhelming majority of lobbyists at hearings on forfeiture litigation. Meanwhile, prosecutors complained that police were less available to investigate crimes that did not involve forfeiture.
Over 200 federal forfeiture laws are attached to non-drug related crimes. Even a false statement on a loan application can trigger forfeiture. Physicians are subject to forfeiture of their entire assets based on a clerical error in medicare billing. The government even tried to forfeit a farmer's tractor for allegedly running over an endangered rat. The federal government obtained a judgment of forfeiture against the prized sailboat "Flash II," once owned by the late John F. Kennedy, without bothering to provide notice to the principle owner of the forfeiture proceeding against the sloop. It took several years of expensive litigation before the district court in Massachusetts ruled the historic sailboat had never been legally subject to forfeiture; that the government had no right to seize and then sell the sloop; and that the proceeds of that sale rightfully belong to the innocent owner.
Thank the Libertarians for fighting this
WEST MEMPHIS, AR - A man shot by cops inside a small town courtroom in Arkansas will soon be charged with battery on a police officer according to the West Memphis City Prosecutor. The shooting happened two weeks ago in Jericho.
Fire chief Don Payne was arguing a traffic ticket, and got into an argument with officers. One of the officers shot Payne in the back. West Memphis City Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley says none of the police officers will be charged.