USSC Blow to civil asset forfeiture?

snax

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Supreme Court strikes blow against states that raise revenue by hefty fines, forfeitures
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that state governments cannot impose excessive court fees, fines and forfeitures as a means of raising money.

The decision, which united the court's conservatives and liberals, makes clear that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "excessive fines" applies to the states....

....It was a victory for Tyson Timbs, who sold less than $400 worth of heroin to undercover police officers in 2013. Upon conviction, Indiana seized his Land Rover, which he had purchased for more than $42,000.


Now, would this apply for seizure w/o a conviction or charges filed?


Moral of the story?
View: https://youtu.be/BJF-wVW1F2o
 

snax

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Two things should stand out.

The ruling was unanimous.

States and police agencies were arguing excessive fines are okay.
I want to take some time when I get the chance to read the whole ruling. A lot of these forfeitures are taken without any charges being filed. Does this qualify under penalties and fines?
That guy in Tewksbury had to fight to keep his motel from the Feds and Tewksbury. The gov't argued because of the amount of police calls and "activity" at the property. Not sure, but I remember reading that the Motel 6 just down the street had just as many problems. I'm sure it wasn't the fact that the property was in a valuable location, was seen by many as an eyesore, it was paid off, and the owner probably didn't have the means to fight it, which he didn't, a law firm argued the case for free.
 

BUMPA01603

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I am loving the revamped SCOTUS! More favorable rulings in the near future I hope! And perhaps a new Justice installed.....
 

LoginName

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Wait... what, did I just read this right?

Ginsburg quoting McDonald v Chicago

The protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority," Ginsburg wrote. Quoting in part from the court's 2010 ruling that Second Amendment gun rights apply to the states, she said, "This safeguard, we hold, is 'fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty.'"
 

drgrant

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Wait... what, did I just read this right?

Ginsburg quoting McDonald v Chicago

The protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority," Ginsburg wrote. Quoting in part from the court's 2010 ruling that Second Amendment gun rights apply to the states, she said, "This safeguard, we hold, is 'fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty.'"
Maybe when she was sleeping the ghost of Scalia reached out to her, they used to be friends.... [laugh]
 
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Two things should stand out.

The ruling was unanimous.

States and police agencies were arguing excessive fines are okay.
Three things actually, you left one out:
  1. Yes, it was unanimous
  2. Indiana's argument was actually that the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause doesn't apply to the states because it was never 'incorporated; via the Fourteenth Amendment - a view that got a lot of push back from the justices during oral arguments.
  3. Thomas and Kavanaugh issued a concurring opinion arguing that the court should be incorporating the excessive fines clause via the 'privilege or immunity' clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It's taken almost 150 years, but there are finally two justices ready gut Slaughterhouse.
This is a good day for liberty!
 

Matt-CZ

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Hopefully this decision leads to more cases being brought to challenge the outrageous civil forfeiture that occurs across the country.
 
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3. Thomas and Kavanaugh issued a concurring opinion arguing that the court should be incorporating the excessive fines clause via the 'privilege or immunity' clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It's taken almost 150 years, but there are finally two justices ready gut Slaughterhouse.
I think this is Thomas's horse. He addressed this in McDonald v. Chicago.
 

drgrant

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Hopefully this decision leads to more cases being brought to challenge the outrageous civil forfeiture that occurs across the country.
I would hope that even if they won't have the stones to declare it unilaterally unconstitutional absent specific circumstances (like lets say, .gov holding back seized cash because they know it actually belongs to a victim of theft) , that they will at least do something like prohibit the use of seized funds for any kind of government operational purpose. That money should go to back to the people, whether its actual victims or the general public somehow. Civil asset foreiture funding government operations is basically the fiduciary version of incest in law enforcement.

-Mike
 
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Three things actually, you left one out:

3. Thomas and Kavanaugh issued a concurring opinion
arguing that the court should be incorporating the excessive fines clause via the 'privilege or immunity' clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It's taken almost 150 years, but there are finally two justices ready gut Slaughterhouse.
This is a good day for liberty!
Actually, it was Thomas and Gorsuch, not Kavanaugh that concurred via "the 'privilege or immunity' clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

JUSTICE GORSUCH, concurring.

The majority faithfully applies our precedent and, based on a wealth of historical evidence, concludes that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause against the States. I agree with that conclusion. As an original matter, I acknowledge, the appropriate vehicle for incorporation may well be the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, rather than, as this Court has long assumed, the Due Process Clause. See, e.g., post, at 1–3 (THOMAS, J., concurring in judgment); McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 805–858 (2010) (THOMAS, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment) (documenting evidence that the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” include, at minimum, the individual rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights); Wildenthal, Nationalizing the Bill of Rights: Revisiting the Original Understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866–67, 68 Ohio St. L. J. 1509 (2007); A. Amar, The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction 163–214 (1998); M. Curtis, No State Shall Abridge: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights (1986). But nothing in this case turns on that question, and, regardless of the precise vehicle, there can be no serious doubt that the Fourteenth Amendment requires the States to respect the freedom from excessive fines enshrined in the Eighth Amendment.
https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-1091_5536.pdf
 

M1911

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Ah, it was Gorsuch who savaged the IN AG during oral arguments:

"Here we are in 2018," an exasperated-sounding Gorsuch told Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher, and we're "still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Really? Come on, General."
I’d misremembered that as being Kavanaugh, which is why I couldn’t find it.
 
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I want to take some time when I get the chance to read the whole ruling. A lot of these forfeitures are taken without any charges being filed. Does this qualify under penalties and fines?
The guy should have lost the vehicle, i have no pity for drug dealers. However, the ride was worth more than 4x the maximum fine for the crime. So this is a win for the populous.

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-1091_5536.pdf

"Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft. At the time of Timbs’s arrest, the police seized a Land Rover SUV Timbs had purchased for $42,000 with money he received from an insurance policy when his father died. The State sought civil forfeiture of Timbs’s vehicle, charging that the SUV had been used to transport heroin. Observing that Timbs had recently purchased the vehicle for more than four times the maximum $10,000 monetary fine assessable againsthim for his drug conviction, the trial court denied the State’s request."
 

Woodsy

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Supreme Court strikes blow against states that raise revenue by hefty fines, forfeitures
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that state governments cannot impose excessive court fees, fines and forfeitures as a means of raising money.

The decision, which united the court's conservatives and liberals, makes clear that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "excessive fines" applies to the states....

....It was a victory for Tyson Timbs, who sold less than $400 worth of heroin to undercover police officers in 2013. Upon conviction, Indiana seized his Land Rover, which he had purchased for more than $42,000.


Now, would this apply for seizure w/o a conviction or charges filed?


Moral of the story?
View: https://youtu.be/BJF-wVW1F2o
In my opinion if you are in a your car selling drugs illegally, and your convicted then the car should be Auctioned off. Same with a Boat or Motorcycle. When it’s a home with other residents etc and not tied to being purchased with drug money I do not think the state should take it.
 

drgrant

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I’d misremembered that as being Kavanaugh, which is why I couldn’t find it.
I was thinking about that, wouldn't this case have started marinating too early for it to involve Kavanaugh? (I forget how long these things go it seems to be highly
irregular).

-Mike
 
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I would hope that even if they won't have the stones to declare it unilaterally unconstitutional absent specific circumstances (like lets say, .gov holding back seized cash because they know it actually belongs to a victim of theft)
Those circumstances are already covered and need not be exceptions to a civil asset forfeiture law. It does need to be ruled UNCONDITIONALLY unconstitutional. There are no reasons for it, period. All assets seized must have concrete backing, either statutorily defined as punishment for a crime you are convicted of, or if the property is stolen it's not yours in the first place so you are having no property seized. I get your point though, and I have no faith courts would be as direct as I think they should be. This ruling is evidence of that.


that they will at least do something like prohibit the use of seized funds for any kind of government operational purpose.
Absolutely. There was a thread recently in which a cop was complaining about not being allowed to keep money seized from suspected drug dealers. His quote was something like "well if we can't keep the money we [steal], what's the incentive to catch drug dealers?"

Because unless cops get to keep the money they steal there is no incentive to do their job apparently. There should be no question that it is this mentality that has led to the total perversion of civil assent forfeiture. Which is exactly why money and property seized should NEVER go back to the people [stealing] it, and should never be seized in the first place.


Edit: Found it!

"Jarrod Bruder, the executive director of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association who frequently lobbies for law enforcement interests at the Statehouse, said that without the incentive of profit from civil forfeiture, officers probably wouldn’t pursue drug dealers...

If police don’t get to keep the money from forfeiture, “what is the incentive to go out and make a special effort?” Bruder said. “What is the incentive for interdiction?”"

That money should go to back to the people, whether its actual victims or the general public somehow.

Civil asset foreiture funding government operations is basically the fiduciary version of incest in law enforcement.

-Mike
That's one way of putting it!
 
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Just to be clear, civil asset forfeiture is a little different. That's where the state takes your stuff without charging and convicting you. This guy was actually convicted (or pled guilty, can't remember).
 

Dadstoys

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In this state the wardens can seize your boat for having a fish 1/2" under legal size.
The trick they used to do at the ramp in Newburyport was to wait till you got your boat on the trailer and then approach to check.
That way they can take the boat , the trailer and the vehicle towing it.
 
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Just to be clear, civil asset forfeiture is a little different. That's where the state takes your stuff without charging and convicting you. This guy was actually convicted (or pled guilty, can't remember).
He pled guilty but the trial court denied the seizure request. So the vehicle was not seized as a result of the criminal conviction. It was in fact based on civil asset forfeiture.

The State engaged a private law firm to bring a civil suit for forfeiture of Timbs’s Land Rover, charging that the vehicle had been used to transport heroin. After Timbs’s guilty plea in the criminal case, the trial court held a hearing on the forfeiture demand. Although finding that Timbs’s vehicle had been used to facilitate violation of a criminal statute, the court denied the requested forfeiture, observing that Timbs had recently purchased the vehicle for $42,000, more than four times the maximum $10,000 monetary fine assessable against him for his drug conviction. Forfeiture of the Land Rover, the court determined, would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of Timbs’s offense, hence unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause.

......

The State of Indiana does not meaningfully challenge the case for incorporating the Excessive Fines Clause as a general matter. Instead, the State argues that the Clause does not apply to its use of civil in rem forfeitures because, the State says, the Clause’s specific application to such forfeitures is neither fundamental nor deeply rooted.
 
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I also want to point this out again. In the old thread on this exact case when the Indiana Supreme Court ruled the seizure was just fine and dandy and the 8th Amendment didn't apply to the states, I said this:

Also, whether you think the Bill of Rights as found in the US Constitution does or doesn’t apply to the states, the Indiana State Constitution also expiclity prohibits excessive fines. The fact the Indiana Supreme Court said the excessive fines clause doesn’t apply, and the fact their SG is arguing that as well, just shows how far government will go to ignore any and all laws.

Section 16. Excessive bail or fines, Cruel and unusual punishment

Section 16. Excessive bail shall not be required. Excessive fines shall not be imposed. Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. All penalties shall be proportioned to the nature of the offense.

It’s in their own Constitution! It clearly and obviously applies. They are criminal hacks to even suggest otherwise nevertheless argue and in fact rule otherwise in court.
Just in case anyone had any disillusions about courts being fair, honest, or interested in your rights, as opposed to money.
 

milktree

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In my opinion if you are in a your car selling drugs illegally, and your convicted then the car should be Auctioned off. Same with a Boat or Motorcycle. When it’s a home with other residents etc and not tied to being purchased with drug money I do not think the state should take it.
Seriously? What about the shoes you're wearing, or the underwear you're wearing? What about the house you own?

Are you seriously arguing that if you break a law, anything you're using, under any definition, should be confiscated?

Reductio ad absurdum takes us to losing your car if you do a rolling stop at a stop sign.
 
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