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Blog

Federal government threatens states considering comprehensive civil asset forfeiture reform

The Department of Justice and Department of the Treasury are interfering in a debate over a piece of legislation currently in the California Assembly that would close a loophole in the state's civil asset forfeiture laws. The loophole allows law enforcement to circumvent protections in the state's forfeiture laws by pursuing forfeitures in federal courts, which creates a serious problem for innocent property owners.

09/08/2015
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No charges filed in more than a third of Oklahoma civil asset forfeiture cases

The presumption of innocence is a basic principle of the American legal system. Americans are presumed innocent of any allegations of illicit activity until proven guilty by the government in court. But this principle does not apply to civil asset forfeiture in most states, including Oklahoma.

09/02/2015
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Preserving the Fifth Amendment is the key to civil asset forfeiture reform in Oklahoma

On Tuesday, Oklahoma state Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) hosted a panel of national experts to discuss the Sooner State's civil asset forfeiture laws. State Sen. Loveless invited me to speak via Skype, and my prepared remarks can be read below. Other panelists included John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation and Adam Bates of the Cato Institute.

09/01/2015
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Michigan Senate committee moves protections for innocent property owners a step closer to passage

The Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved seven of eight civil asset forfeiture reform bills on Wednesday. The bills, which have been endorsed by a 10,000-member law enforcement organization, will provide meaningful property rights protections for law-abiding citizens, as well as bring uniformity and transparency in state forfeiture law.

08/20/2015
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Wyoming lawmakers continue to work on long overdue protections for innocent property owners

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee met on Thursday in Gillette to review two draft bills that would reform the state's terrible civil asset forfeiture laws. Though members of the committee considered the draft proposals, they instructed staff to draft a new bill for consideration at the next hearing, likely in early October.

08/19/2015
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Court orders return of an innocent man's money, but the federal government isn't letting it go

Straughn Gorman was driving on Interstate 80 in Elko County, Nevada in January 2013 when he was pulled over by a state patrolman for driving too slowly in the passing lane. The patrolman asked to search Gorman's recreational vehicle, but Gorman, a resident of Hawaii, did not consent. Though the patrolman let him go without so much as a warning or traffic citation, it appears he arranged for an Elko County sheriff's deputy who had a drug-sniffing dog to pull him over.

08/18/2015
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Wyoming lawmakers are preparing to take another look at reforms to protect innocent people from government overreach

After a disappointing defeat last year at the hands of Gov. Matt Mead (R-Wyo.), Wyoming state lawmakers will consider two separate proposals that would protect innocent property owners from government overreach. The Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee will review the draft language of both bills at a meeting in Gillette on Thursday.

08/12/2015
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Yes, civil asset forfeiture denies innocent people of their right to due process

Oklahoma has some of the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the country. According to FreedomWorks' state scorecard, Civil Asset Forfeiture: Grading the States, the standard of proof the government needs to subject property allegedly connected to a crime to forfeiture is too low and, in an inversion of justice, the property owner, who may never be charged with a crime, must show that the property was obtained through legal means to get it back. Additionally, a perverse profit motive exists, as Oklahoma law enforcement agencies can keep up to 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeitures.

08/04/2015
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Conservatives and progressives come together to protect innocent Oklahomans property rights

The effort to reform Oklahoma's terrible civil asset forfeiture laws has brought together unlikely bedfellows from the ideologically opposed think tanks. In an op-ed published on Sunday, Terry England, vice president for strategic initiatives at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and Gene Perry, policy director at the Oklahoma Policy Institute, explained the perilous situation that property owners in which innocent Sooner State residents could find themselves under current state law.

08/03/2015
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Desert Snow: The company that teaches the government how to take innocent people's property

Over the last several weeks, FreedomWorks has released two publications discussing in detail the problems with civil asset forfeiture. First, we released Civil Asset Forfeiture: Grading the States, which, as the title suggests, functions as a scorecard on states' civil asset forfeiture laws. More recently, we published From High Seas to Highway Robbery: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Became One of the Worst Forms of Government Overreach, which offers historical background on this concerning area of the law.

07/28/2015

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