Fixing Asset Forfeiture

I discussed civil asset forfeiture in “Spoils of War” and also discussed the IRS seizure of assets for “structuring” deposits in “Repeal the Bill of Rights” under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  I won’t say these policies should be eliminated because, in some cases, they do serve to disrupt cash flow for criminal activities, however when the NYPD boasts that they seized more cash than they can count they sound more like Blackbeard’s pirates than civil servants.  When innocent citizens have to file expensive lawsuits to recover wrongfully seized property the system is broken, so let’s fix it.  Here’s one way.

Assets seized from people not charged with a crime must be returned to the owner within one business day if criminal charges are not filed within a reasonable time, e.g., 48-72 hours.

Assets seized from people charged with a crime must be held in escrow pending outcome of the trial.  If the defendant is found “not guilty” the assets must be returned to the owner.  If the asset was cash it must have been held in an interest-bearing account and the cash returned with accrued interest.  If lawfully acquired real property (buildings, vehicles, firearms, etc.) was seized the state must preserve and maintain that property such that it can be returned intact and without loss.  If the individual is found “guilty” the judge will determine what happens to the seized property.

I think this is a reasonable balance between the needs of law enforcement to disrupt criminal activity and the rights of citizens to keep their lawfully acquired property.  When police departments consider themselves to be profit centers the entire concept of law enforcement is maligned.

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Disabled Lives Matter

Black Americans often say that young black men must be warned about how do deal with police and other authorities, i.e., very carefully.  Evidently disabled people and their caretakers need the same type of warning as we see more violence against the disabled by authorities who are supposed to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.

A few months ago a disabled teenage girl suffering from brain cancer was beaten until bloody by TSA agents.  She became confused when an alarm went off so they immediately threw her to the floor and arrested her.  TSA agents have also been accused of hassling a 9-year old boy who has a pacemaker after undergoing multiple surgeries for heart defects.  Unfortunately TSA agents are Federal employees so they enjoy substantial protection against being fired for using excessive force.

Recently an unarmed deaf man was shot and killed by a state police officer who pursued him for a traffic violation.  The victim didn’t respond to the officer’s commands because he couldn’t hear them, but the officer must have thought that sign language posed a lethal threat.  There have been no protests, no demonstrations, and little media coverage because this situation doesn’t fit the mold that the liberal media wants to publicize: the officer was black and the victim was white.  If the races were reversed so would be the media coverage.  There would also be protests and maybe even a remark from the President.  This sure looks like a use of excessive force (or is it a hate crime?).  If the victim was unarmed but the officer felt threatened, a Taser would have subdued him.  Will the officer be charged or will filing charges against a black officer be called racism?

We hear how police officers around the country are being trained to be sensitive to Islam so they don’t “offend” anyone.  Instead of indoctrinating officers in the latest manifestation of political correctness they should be teaching them the difference between sign language and Kung Fu fighting.  An unarmed young father didn’t deserve to die for a traffic ticket.

Any police officer who can’t recognize a deaf person doesn’t belong in uniform. File charges or admit that disabled lives don’t matter in the USA.

Update:  From New Hampshire comes a news story that proves that it was not necessary for a cop to shoot an unarmed deaf man.  A distraught man who wanted to commit “suicide by cop” approached officers with razor blades.  The officers had the unquestionable authority to shoot an armed assailant, but instead they Tased him.  No officers were harmed and hopefully the suicidal man will get mental health treatment.  So, why did a black cop shoot an unarmed deaf man?  Maybe he hates disabled people.  Maybe he was exacting revenge for the shooting of black motorists by white cops.  Maybe he was just having a bad day.  Regardless, he murdered an unarmed man over a traffic stop.  In the interest of justice for a family that lost their father charges should be filed, and the shooting investigated as a hate crime.

Christmas Update:  Officers in California destroyed a family’s Christmas joy by killing an unarmed 73-year old grandfather who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  They were primed to shoot by a false report that he was armed.  Of course there were no body cameras, no dash camera, just the word of the cops against a dead grandfather.  Sue the city and the person who lied (that person didn’t recognize their own neighbor so how could they recognize a gun in the dark?).

2017 Update:  Tragically another deaf man was gunned down by cops. He was returning home from a walk.  Unfortunately he routinely carried a walking stick.  When he “refused” to drop this “weapon” (because he couldn’t hear the order) he was murdered. Now if he had been carrying a shotgun the use of deadly force would have been justified, but wouldn’t a Taser have protected the officers from the perceived threat of a stick? Why has deadly force become the standard police response to any “threat” rather than the last resort it used to be? Is the USA becoming a police state?
In 2017 we even saw an unarmed woman shot and killed while trying to report a suspected crime to the police. Of course the shooting officer ( who broke every procedural rule and endangered his partner by firing across his body) is a Black Muslim from the anarchical nation of Somalia, so he’s in a “protected class” and will probably not face any charges for an action that would land any civilian (or white police officer) in prison for a long time. Our ultra-liberal media was as quiet as possible about this shooting, even though it would have advocated days of rage if the races had been reversed.  Political correctness always trumps justice in the USA today.

You’re Blocked!

Not really.  I’m a conservative so don’t expect me to praise progressivism, but I also believe that open dialogue is good for the country.  I won’t disapprove dissenting opinions as long as they address the post topic and are expressed civilly.  I will disapprove dissenters who resort to insults, name calling, or “trolling”.  A statement like “that’s dumb” contributes nothing to resolving an issue but if you have a good idea feel free to share it.

The Supreme Court: Gavel or Hammer?

The Supreme Court gets it’s gavel from Article III of the Constitution, which establishes it and authorizes Congress to create the lower federal court system.  The Supreme Court’s job is to determine the constitutionality of laws and presidential actions, theoretically preventing excesses from the other two branches.  Lower Federal courts can make constitutional rulings too but they’re appealable to the Supreme Court.   Alexander Hamilton considered the Supreme Court to be the “least dangerous” branch of government because it lacked executive or legislative powers, but that hasn’t proven true.  Using Judicial Review it can overturn the actions of our elected officials.  An “activist” court can effectively legislate. That’s awesome power for a panel of judges who are appointed for life by the president and out of the reach of the voting booth, and it’s a powerful reason for maintaining presidential term limits.  It’s naive to think that judges are totally impartial and nonpartisan.  A judge appointed by the president will probably have similar opinions on how things should be in the USA.  We often hear about the “conservative/liberal” balance in the court.  Typically conservatives use the gavel to uphold the Constitution while liberals use it as a hammer to chip away at the Bill of Rights. Have some recent court rulings been about the Constitution or about a political agenda?  If they have it’s time to consider a 12 to 18 year term limit for Supreme Court justices along with a mandatory retirement age.