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Civil Forfeiture Reform: States Have Led, More Need to Follow

Under civil asset forfeiture, the government can take someone’s property without convicting them of a crime. The law has its basis in British admiralty law and makes little sense in today’s modern world. While there are has been some discussion of reforming forfeiture at the federal level, the states are leading the charge to reform. However, more reforms are needed at the state and federal level, and can be based on the reforms already implemented in some states.

03/25/2015
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CPAC Panel on Asset Forfeiture

The practice of asset forfeiture has been a hot topic in Washington D.C. lately, whether it has been Attorney General Eric Holder announcing the federal government will no longer take part in the equitable sharing program or the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations calling into question the entire practice of civil asset forfeiture. Because of the importance and timeliness of the issue, CPAC had a panel consisting of Pat Nolan, Derek Cohen and Darpana Sheth to discuss what is wrong with asset forfeiture and what we the people can do to fix it.

03/02/2015
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Lawsuit forces a Nevada county to return innocent people's money illegally taken through civil asset forfeiture

In November 2013, Trevor Paine was on his through Humboldt County, Nevada on his way to California when he was stopped by a deputy from local sheriff's department for driving nine miles per hour over the speed limit on I-80. The deputy who stopped him claimed that his police dog had alerted him to something in Paine's vehicle and searched it without his consent.

02/26/2015
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House Hearing on Civil Forfeiture

Imagine this, you are moving from Michigan to California to start a new life and your dad gave you $2,500 to help you start out on your feet. While driving through Nevada you get pulled over by a deputy sheriff and he asks you how much money you have on you. You think to yourself, “that’s a strange question, but I’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide,” so you tell the officer you have $2,500 from your dad. The officer then tells you he suspects your trip from Michigan to California is to acquire drugs with the $2,500 and so he seizes the cash, without arresting you, and tells you to go on your way. Welcome to the story of Matt Lee, welcome to civil asset forfeiture.

02/17/2015
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Authorized to Steal

If you own a house or car, they are your property. If you produce cabinetry or quilts, they are your property. If you produce raisins, they are your property and cannot be taken by the government without just compensation, right? Not according to a decision by the Ninth Circuit.

02/11/2015
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Civil Asset Forfeiture: When Due Process and Property Rights Don’t Count

On February 6 the Federalist Society held as Civil Asset Forfeiture Update on Capitol Hill with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Institute for Justice as cosponsors. The event was held to bring more awareness to the issue which has been in the news lately with Eric Holder’s limiting order (which will leave around 86% federal civil seizure unaffected), recent legislative efforts and late night television skits. The event featured a diverse panel consisting of: Darpana Sheth (IJ), Kanya Bennett (ACLU), David Smith (Smith & Zimmerman PLLC) and Bill Piper (Drug Policy Alliance).

02/09/2015
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VA Judge: Law Enforcement Can Compel Fingerprint to Unlock Cell Phone

An interesting ruling regarding cell phone privacy has emerged from a Virginia Circuit Court. Judge Steven Frucci of Virginia’s 2nd Judicial Circuit has ruled that law enforcement can compel someone to unlock his cellphone by fingerprint identification, but cannot compel one to divulge his passcode in order to unlock the device.

11/13/2014
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Has eminent domain abuse backfired?

In June 2005, the Supreme Court effectively gutted the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, ruling in Kelo v. New London that governments could take private property not just for public use but also for private purposes. This case involved Susette Kelo and other homeowners who resided in New London, Connecticut's Fort Trumbull neighborhood who were fighting the local government for its use of eminent domain for economic development purposes -- the theft of property from private owners to another.

10/17/2014
"Where are they Now?"
"This Independence Day, FreedomWorks looks at how the Bill of Rights has stood up over time."
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Where are they Now? The Tenuous Legacy of the Bill of Rights

This Independence Day, millions of Americans will gather to watch fireworks, grill some burgers and dogs, and celebrate the hard-fought freedoms of our forefathers. But in the heady rush of red, white, and blue patriotism, it’s important to remember what those freedoms actually mean, and to examine whether they still remain intact today.

07/02/2014
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Protecting Private Property

The last clause in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This is the provision used to defend the use of eminent domain laws, in which the government seizes private property without the consent of the owner, in order to serve some public purpose. Railroads, interstate highways, and other projects that require large swaths of land are frequently cited as justifications for the law, as it is unlikely that they could have completed—at least not without a significantly higher cost—if private land owners could simply refuse to sell to the government, regardless of the offered price.

04/23/2014

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