Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Southern Sweep Asset Forfeiture - right or wrong?

Given our system of 'innocent until proven guilty' how in the world did something like Asset Forfeiture become legal? Or more specifically, taking someone's property before they have been, charged, tried and found guilty. In this case, it is land that is being seized. In cases elsewhere it is boats and planes and automobiles. And if the person is then found to be innocent of all charges, getting the property back is nearly impossible. 60 Minutes has covered this. On the other hand, large scale pot growers certainly knew the ground rules - and took the risk. Now they pay the price.

Today's story: ☛ TS Feds move forward with land forfeitures
When contacted by the Times-Standard earlier this month, the FBI said no criminal charges had been filed as a result of the sweep. Calls to the FBI on Tuesday were not returned by deadline.

According to United States Code, any properties used to manufacture a controlled substance are subject to forfeiture. In this case, because the U.S. Attorney's Office is seeking civil forfeitures, the land could be forfeited without convictions or even criminal charges being filed against the land owners.

While initial complaints filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office with the Humboldt County Recorder's Office list a total of seven properties, only three of those were included in the Notice of Forfeiture Action filed last week.

But - Guilty or not - it is wrong to seize the property until after they have been convicted. What do you think?

Related:
☛ ER Pot sweep costs DOJ $347,000

Other discussion"
At Eric's SoHum Parlance: Feds moving forward on three of the forfeiture actions

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nope - I don’t agree with you on this one. This is a civil action and not a criminal one. This is precisely how to stop this illegal activity which is destroying our environment and our community. We have people coming to Humboldt from all over the state and country to exploit the fact that Gallegos is paid off by the major dopers and won’t do squat. These folks set up elaborate schemes of LLC’s and then parcel up the land to other dopers from out of the county or out of state. They take over our tpz land and ag land. They are destroying our open space and terrorizing decent folks who live in the rural areas of the county. You ever tried to hike, ride, hunt or fish in the outlying areas? What happens is that you take your life in your hands. God forbid you stumble onto a grow. I would rather face a mountain lion unarmed than a commercial grower. These commercial growers don’t come from here. These are not mom and pop grows for personal use. These creeps grow, leave thousands of miles of plastic drip irrigation and dump toxic waste like diesel in the water table. Since there is no was to stop this criminally speaking in Humboldt, the only way to stop it is to “take their toys.” I hope this sends a message to those coming here to exploit our environment and communities.

Rose said...

And I agree with you on almost all points. Throw the book at them.

But to seize a person's property, they should be charged, tried and found guilty first. Tie the property up somehow, ok, until the trial is complete, but the actual seizure should require conviction.

I can agree that it is obvious they are guilty when there is a major grow and production going on on their land and 'everybody knows' exactly what is going on.

But the system presumes innocence, and there is always a possibility that an innocent person gets tagged. Just as in murder/death pnealty cases, our leaning should be towards making sure the law does not seize the innocent person's property.

I have never understood how this law got passed in this nation with our system, whether it is seizing the vehicles of men arrested for soliciting sex, or major dope growers...

I do understand the thought process, springing out of major heroin and cocaine trafficking in Florida, I think, they seized huge quantities of cash, planes, Ferraris.... in part so that ill gotten gains cannot be used to pay for high-powered legal help, and in part as a punitive measure...

Still....

Stephen said...

Rose is right. The Feds are breaking the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The only reason the Feds get away with this is European-American majority prejudice against marijuana that is still running the law system in our country. Breaking the rights of pot growers is OK because the public won't bitch about it and the pot grower and sympathetic crowd is far too small in voting power to matter to politicians.

The same breaking of the Constitution is happening by European-American prejudice against Arabs and Islam that allows the continual breaking of the Separation of Church and State that prohibits the "establishment" of any single religion, yet what is Israel if not a religious state we Americans are establishing? Might as well be funding the Vatican or a Utah Mormon State.

Anonymous said...

"This is precisely how to stop this illegal activity which is destroying our environment and our community. "

No, this is not. You don't not give government excersize vigilantism. The way you 'precisely stop' these activities is the legal system, and if need be, a trial.

Do you some how think that our system of crime and punishement can't stop these grows? Do you think that we need to 'bend the rules' and punish those convicted of no crime?

I agree that they took the risks, and after they are convicted they need to have thier property siezed. But there is a HUGE difference between taking it before conviction and after. Why don't we return to lynch mobs and tell small claims plaintiffs to 'work it out themselves'.

It is a strange day that I agree wholeheartedly with Rose. Today is that day.

jason

Anonymous said...

Hey dopey, if it's the gov't it's not vigiliantism. Look it up.

exrepublican said...

if it is SO obvious that the "growers" are guilty, how hard would it be to convict them first?

sounds to me like the case isnt so cut and dry(pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Anony @ 11:37,

Wow, I am glad you figured that out.

You deserve a cookie, but just in case you still don't get it: It is an intentional contrast in concepts that shows the ludicrous nature of the action.

Thanks for caring, Dopey!

Ammendment to original post, second sentance should read:
"You don't give government THE AUTHORITY TO excersize vigilantism."

jason

Anonymous said...

Wrong.

Somebody might just check out the forfieture process before making all kinds of comments and assumptions. The "G" will not be taking anyone's property without due process. If you put out any information to indicate otherwise you are just stirring shit to stir shit.

Do you believe everything you hear on KMUD?

Come on.

Anonymous said...

yeah, rose is a ganja lovin, earth mama who believes every word that has ever come out of the KMUD studios......nice try

Rose said...

As long as they are found guilty first, I have no objection to the asset forfeiture - at least of the things you can equate to having been purchased with ill-gotten gains. Not sure how I feel if it includes property they owned or inherited prior to becoming involved in criminal behavior - or homes that their otherwise innocent family members live in - but I must admit I am not versed in Asset Forfeiture procedure.

I have been intrigued however since Gallegos' attempt to set up his Assault Team with the County's Asset Forfeiture funds. What was he intending to use it for? "Cause it sure doesn't appear that he goes after drug dealers.

Anonymous said...

Gag's is another issue. It would be nice to know what the Humboldt County DA's REAL priorties are. For a county with so many drug problems it doesn't seem that the prosectution of drug dealers is a priority.

The "system" in Humboldt County is broken and there is no realistic way to fix it. Too much marijuana money over the past 30 years.