Friday, January 16, 2015

A Stopped Clock Is Right More Often Than Eric Holder

The stopped clock is right twice a day; Holder may be right for the first time in his tenure as AG.  H/T to Market Ticker.  Holder has issued a ruling to limit civil forfeiture, where police departments have been incentivized to seize property and cash from anyone they find convenient. 
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred.
 Denninger continues
This will not stop all civil forfeiture, but it will stop nearly all of it.

States can certainly continue to try to proceed with their programs under state laws, but the "Equitable Sharing" program made it very easy and thus cheap to administer -- and also gave the states a wide degree of immunity from being hammered in the courts with civil suits, since the underlying action was federal.
I've written about civil forfeiture incidents here before, and it's not a new problem.  It goes back to drug laws first passed in 1970, when Congress allowed police to seize aircraft, boats and other property used to transport narcotics or bought by drug lords with ill-gotten gains.  Like all laws useful to the police state, it has expanded over the years.  As I wrote a couple of years ago:
Around Daytona, Florida, in the 1990s, sheriff Bob Vogel was notorious for stopping cars on I-95.  If you had cash, you must be a drug dealer, so the cash was seized.  Drivers were virtually never charged with a crime, guilt was therefore never proven and the police made over $8 Million dollars for a department fund.
This pattern has expanded and been used repeatedly all over the country.  My previous article featured a story of the laws being used to sue an inanimate object. 
This town’s police department is conniving with the federal government to circumvent Massachusetts law — which is less permissive than federal law — to seize his livelihood and retirement asset. In the lawsuit titled United States of America v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, the government is suing an inanimate object, the motel Caswell’s father built in 1955.
But the stories can go on endlessly.  The WaPo article reports that since 2008, more than 55,000 civil forfeitures have been used to seize cash and property worth $3 billion from people whom are rarely if ever charged with crime.  The usual approach would be to seize cash if it appeared it was from a small business or individual, because they would be least likely to afford a legal staff that would be a threat to the states, then drag the cases out and run up legal bills until the victim went bankrupt trying to get their money back.  Case in point:
That includes people such as Mandrel Stuart, who was stopped in 2012 by Fairfax County police, detained without charges, handcuffed and stripped of $17,550 in cash that was to be used for equipment and supplies for his barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Va. He eventually hired a lawyer, and a jury gave him his money back in 2013. But he lost his restaurant while fighting the government, because he had no working capital.
Of course, the police departments see a threat to their undocumented funding efforts and are upset:
“It seems like a continual barrage against police,” said John W. Thompson, interim executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. “I’m not saying there’s no wrongdoing, but there is wrongdoing in everything.”  
Read that last sentence again.  Sounds like Otter in Animal House.  "The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did.  But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals"  This whole thing sounds like organized crime to me.  If you have something valuable and don't seem to have the legal force to protect it, the state is taking it.

So why would that despicable little troll Holder do this now?  Has he become sensitive to his legacy, and wants to be known for doing something right?   If so, this is a good candidate because it seems that there is no political base that likes civil forfeiture.  Left or right, I've never heard anyone say it's a wonderful thing.  Maybe statists think so, but I've never come across them saying it.

Although it burns my mouth to say this, I have to acknowledge that Holder did something right.  I always heard that while it's not strictly true, if something happens less than 5% of the time, it's probably a random event.  They used to say "even a blind pig finds a few acorns". 
(from)  By the way... did you know there's an entire "Eric Holder looks like sloth" meme out there? 


  1. While I'm certainly happy this is happening (civil forfeiture is one of the more obscene injustices perpetrated by law enforcement), it amazes me that Holder is actually doing this. He cares not for what the country thinks of him - beyond what "his people" think of him, perhaps.

    He doesn't care that he is known for the _intentional_ hundreds of deaths due directly to his Fast and Furious program designed to damage the Second Amendment and gun sales in America. He doesn't care for the fact that he is known for ignoring the Constitution and refusing to enforce laws with which he disagrees.

    So why would he care about his "legacy"? This turnabout re: civil forfeiture will barely impact - if at all - his "chosen people". Maybe he is hoping that this might cut him some slack if he tries to change his mind about resigning? Or reduce whatever punishment might be sought for the illegal, unConstitutional things he is demonstrably guilty of doing?

    There is more to this than meets the eye.

  2. Somewhere I read that "joint task forces" were exempt from this- If that is true,
    that means the local and state cops will have to join with the feds and split the proceeds with them, as well as bring the Feds ever closer to home..

    .. this is Holder we are talking about....

  3. I'm quite sure Holder did not do this out of the goodness of his heart, or a desire to establish a positive legacy. It's being used for leverage, pure and simple.

    Once local agencies are brought to heel, acknowledging the greatness of the feds and becoming further intertwined with them, the policy will be "considered and modified" and reinstated.

  4. Actually, the thrust of several articles I read is that property seizure happens disproportionally to "his people" and other minorities. This could very well just be intended to be a shot at police departments who they claim are "predominantly attacking black people". It could be 100% just about benefiting his people.

    In addition, this is already something that already happens when state/local police work with the Feds. That third paragraph I lifted from Denninger concludes with, "...and also gave the states a wide degree of immunity from being hammered in the courts with civil suits, since the underlying action was federal."

    I'm as suspicious, distrustful and disdainful of Holder as anyone - maybe more so. But it appears he accidentally did something right.

    As I say, if it happens less than 5% of the time it's probably just a random event, and it's way, way less than 5%.

  5. We must be talking about black drug dealers. "His people, the common black people - who he pretends are his people - don't have assets to seize.

    Or maybe there was an additional reason he was funneling thousands of firearms to the cartels. Maybe _those_ are "his people" and they complained to him they are tired of losing some of their assets to forfeiture, and have told him they want it stopped before he leaves office.

  6. Speculation: Holder has likely decided he has substantial legal issues in the future, and plans to flee the jurisdiction with discretely acquired assets. No way he wants them seized on the way out of town.

    This has nothing to do with us. The rest of us can go fish.