Friday, January 16, 2015

Praise for Eric Holder

I've not had many kind words for the Obama administration (if any), but Attorney General Eric Holder's decision today to ban local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without evidence that a crime occurred is fantastic.

Reason has been covering this issue for decades, and they agree:

Big, huge news on the civil asset forfeiture front: Eric Holder is ordering an end to most of the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program. This is the program where the DOJ works with local law enforcement agencies for busts, and then the law enforcement agencies are permitted to keep 80 percent of the assets seized. It has been an incubator of the worst police abuses, as some agencies looked for any possible reason to take people’s property without ever actually accusing them with a crime.
The federal program is what encouraged the police abuse because the agencies got to keep the money (and cars, and whatever else they snatched). When the money goes into the general fund, not directly to the police, there goes the incentive for police to grab whatever they can get their hands on.

It's one small, but very important step towards reining in our dangerously bloated government. May it be the first of many more!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, I and others were too quick to enthuse over this news. Reader "Matthew Grech" offers a link to Reason.com that analyses the fine print and concludes that Holder's order will only result in a modest reduction in seizures. But however small, at least it is a move in the right direction.

UPDATE (2): I'm really regretting having made this post. As Cato points out, Holder has taken steps to make it even easier for the government to seize the property of citizens "suspected" of engaging in criminal activity.

9 comments:

Benjamin Cole said...

Agreed. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty before peers. It is a difficult standard, but vary from that at great peril....

Joseph Constable said...

Law enforcement is paid very well. The higher you go from local, to state, to federal, the higher the pay. The idea is to keep them loyal to the power structure. The palace guard is always the highest paid. And the excessive pay has created an Iranian style republican guard.

Ok, that is an exaggeration. But law enforcement is not beholden to the people any longer. They need to be forced to save for their own retirement. They need to be forced to pay for their own health insurance. They need to become part of the people again.

Unknown said...

Wow!

Don’t accuse YOU of making any sense, still less knowing how to write, not to mention what and how to cite.

“some agencies looked for any possible reason to take people’s property without ever actually accusing them with a crime.”

It is utterly impossible for anyone to accuse anyone else “with a crime.”

Such verbiage is utter nonsense!

Therefore, the nonsensical event you miscited probably NEVER has occurred! And, as such, such garbage claim is Utter Fraud!

“The federal program is what encouraged the police abuse because the agencies got to keep the money (and cars, and whatever else they snatched).”

WHAT “agencies”? Federal? Local department of human services?

HOW did the “federal program” “encourage” ANYTHING?

SHEER drivel!

“When the money goes into the general fund”

WHAT “general fund”? WHAT “money”?

HOW is that unspecified fund going to change ANYTHING?

Again, SHEER drivel!

Evidently such drivel is fine with you – as you cavalierly reproduce it!

As if it had ANY relevance!

No wonder you don’t like police!

You BALD-FACEDLY COMMIT – AND ADVOCATE! commission of -- FRAUD!!!

And therefore are PRECISELY what the police need to ATTACK!

Indeed, they need to seize EVERYTHING you’ve got!

As fraud is a crime, and those who commit it are criminals.

Just like YOU!

Once again, Eric Holder is WRONG!

You just like him when he covers your CRIMES!

And thus have exposed yourself for what you really are!.

CRIMINAL!

Forget property: Death Penalty is indicated!

Benjamin Cole said...

In a like vein, Obama's to open up Cuba is correct also. Since when can the federal government tell me not to do business in Cuba, a nation with which we are not at war?

Frozen in the North said...

I don't know who "unknown" is but talk about going off... America was starting to look like a Banana Republic -- with police officer seising cash and goods under any pretext.

When Canada's official government website says: "Canadians should NOT carry cash into the US for fear of unwarranted seizure". You've got a problem. Most countries that get that kind of notice are in Sub-sahara Africa (and not the good bits either).

BTW its not so much a "until presumed guilty" kind of deal, it was pure theft -- that was encouraged by the various levels of government -- it was even a line item in many border police force's revenues projections...

Lawyer in NJ said...

Nice post.

Matthew Grech said...

Scott: I feel the same way you do about this latest development from Holder. It's an issue that I've followed pretty closely; I've never understood how the policies of confiscation/forfeiture jibed with the Constitution.

That said, reason.com walked back its interpretation of Holder's latest policy move today.

http://reason.com/blog/2015/01/19/how-the-press-exaggerated-holders-forfei

Our refusal to legalize ALL drugs has distorted our society in grotesque ways.

Scott Grannis said...

Matthew: Thanks for pointing that out. Very disappointing, but as I note in the updated post, at least it is a move in the right direction.

Benjamin Cole said...

Yes, I enthused too early also.

BTW, I think the old RICO act also violates the "innocent until proven guilty before peers" standard that is a minimum.

"When the U.S. Attorney decides to indict someone under RICO, he or she has the option of seeking a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to temporarily seize a defendant's assets and prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property, as well as require the defendant to put up a performance bond."

Look, I detest mobsters and drug-runners as much as the next guy. Terrorists too.

The question is, do we let government act as judge, jury and prison guard rolled into one?

Like Ben Franklin said, place security before freedom and soon you will have neither.