The Pursuit

A podcast about government action and individual liberty. Hosted by Tess Terrible.

The first season of The Pursuit (6 episodes, less than an hour and a half in total) focuses on civil asset forfeiture and eminent domain.
If We Want Your Money, We'll Take Your Money...

Rustem Kazazi, 64, was recently relieved of his life savings – $58,100 – by the US Customs and Border Protection “service.” The money was found in his possession – and that was enough to take it from him, without so much as a traffic violation alleged.

Kazazi was traveling by air to his native Albania and – stupidly, but not illegally – brought the cash with him to the airport, intending to use it to buy a retirement home on the Adriatic coast. He packed the money in neat bundles, put it in his carry-on luggage. During his “screening” by the Heimat Sicherheitsdeinst – Homeland Security, rendered in the appropriate German – the money was found and that was all it took to take it.

No charges were filed against Kazazi – and he’s never been convicted of anything. But his money’s gone.

Texas Nurse Sues Feds Over Abusive Civil Forfeiture Practices
by InstituteForJustice on YouTube

On October 31, 2017, Anthonia Nwaorie, a registered nurse and grandmother from Katy, Texas, experienced a real-life Halloween horror story at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized all of her money as she was boarding an international flight. Anthonia, a U.S. citizen, was traveling with over $40,000 on a trip to her home country of Nigeria. Some of the cash was for family members, but most of it was money she had saved to start a medical clinic for women and children with limited access to health care.

Anthonia is teaming up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a federal class action lawsuit to stop CBP from bullying people like her into signing away their constitutional rights. CBP’s behavior violates the federal forfeiture statute and due process of law. IJ is asking the federal court to stop this practice, void any hold harmless agreements signed by class members, and order CBP to return seized property to any class member—including Anthonia—whose property was withheld because they declined to sign an agreement surrendering their constitutional rights.

Federal Agents Seized A Man’s Truck Over Five Forgotten Bullets
by InstituteForJustice on YouTube

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has seized and kept Gerardo Serrano’s truck for the past two years because he forgot he’d left five bullets in his center console. Welcome to the upside-down world of civil forfeiture, where law enforcement can seize your stuff without ever charging you with a crime. Five forgotten bullets are all it takes for the government to argue that someone is an international arms smuggler and rob them of their constitutional rights.

It all started two years ago when Gerardo was crossing the border into Mexico at Eagle Pass, Texas, in his nearly-new Ford F-250 pickup truck. While he waited to cross, he snapped photos to share with his relatives on Facebook. Two CBP agents stopped him at the side of the road. Gerardo, the agents said, was being detained because he’d taken photos.

While detained, Gerardo watched agents search his truck. Finally, one officer gleefully said “we got him” and held up five low-caliber bullets Gerardo had forgotten were in his center console. The agents told him he was free to go, but they were keeping his truck. According to CBP, the truck was subject to civil forfeiture because it was used to transport “munitions of war.“ To get home to Kentucky, Gerardo had to rent a car.

For almost two years, the agency held Gerardo’s truck without ever taking its case before a judge. Gerardo had to pay 10% of the value of the truck—around $3,800—just to contest the seizure. No court has ever approved the seizure of Gerardo’s truck, and Gerardo has never had an opportunity to argue that he should get the truck back. The truck presumably continues to sit in a government impound lot while he continues to make monthly payments.

Gerardo was never convicted of a crime, let alone charged with one. Indeed, forgetting a few bullets in your car is not a crime. For taking pictures, Gerardo’s truck was seized under a law designed to punish international arms smugglers, not innocent Americans visiting family in Mexico.

Now Gerardo is done waiting. He has joined with the Institute for Justice to sue to get his property back. And Gerardo also is filing suit on behalf of a class of other U.S. citizens who have had their vehicles seized by Customs and Border Protection, seeking an order requiring the agency to provide a prompt post-seizure hearing whenever they take vehicles for civil forfeiture.
America's top lawman lied under oath. Can we seize his stuff?

Jeff Sessions sees his job as AG to lock up as many folks for as long as possible - and seize their stuff for good measure. Which makes the idea he could get pardoned for lying to Congress about his Russian ties especially nauseating.
I guess we had one step forward recently, so it is time to take 2 steps back.

Jeff Sessions wants police to take more cash from American citizens

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said he'd be issuing a new directive this week aimed at increasing police seizures of cash and property.
federal law enforcement officers took more property from citizens than burglars did


That's dangerous for so many reasons. What kind of society do we want? One where there is respect for the law, for justice and for human rights...or another kind...?

Connecticut Just Banned Civil Forfeiture Without A Criminal Conviction
Under the new law, in order to permanently confiscate property with civil forfeiture, the property must be first seized in connection to either a lawful arrest or a lawful search that results in an arrest. If prosecutors do not secure a guilty verdict, a plea bargain or a dismissal from finishing a pretrial diversion program, the government must return the property to its rightful owner. With the stroke of a pen, Connecticut now becomes the 14th state to require a criminal conviction for most or all forfeiture cases.
Lee, Allies Want to 'Dramatically Pare Down Abuse' of Asset Forfeiture

Bipartisan group of senators asks Sessions to end profit-driven seizures.
What a nice change to have a positive story in this category.

Not Guilty Verdicts Will Now Protect People From Civil Forfeiture In Utah (Unlike Almost 40 States)
In the bizarre legal world of civil forfeiture, innocent owners must prove their innocence, prosecutors sue the property itself, and, in a Kafkaesque twist, the government can permanently confiscate property even if the owner was found not guilty. Thanks to a two-track system, civil forfeiture shreds due process. While the owners are prosecuted in criminal court, forfeiture litigation against the property proceeds in civil court, which has fewer safeguards and requires less evidence for the government to prevail. That can lead to bizarre case outcomes, like a Minnesota man who was acquitted of burglary, but still had to forfeit his car.

Thankfully, this travesty of justice is now outlawed in Utah. Under newly signed legislation, SB 87, if claimants are acquitted of the crime that gave rise to the forfeiture, prosecutors must return their seized property. (Forfeiture can still proceed in plea deals.) Meanwhile, anytime an agency seizes property valued at under $10,000, they must return the property to the claimant, unless prosecutors file criminal charges within 60 days of filing a forfeiture complaint. By banning forfeitures from the acquitted, Utah’s reform is functionally similar to the 12 states that require a criminal conviction in most or all forfeiture cases.
Civil asset forfeiture is legalized theft by government. | Libertarian Party
Yesterday, at a meeting with sheriffs, President Trump commented about ruining the career of a Texas legislator that proposed a bill to reform civil asset forfeiture.

“We’ll destroy his career,” the President said.
Sort of a bounty for turning them in? The bigger the fish, the bigger the reward!
I've got a lot of traitors to denounce.
PA Lawmaker Challenges Trump on Civil Asset Forfeiture, Uses Greatest Insult Ever | RedState

Hey @realDonaldTrump I oppose civil asset forfeiture too! Why don't you try to destroy my career you fascist, loofa-faced, shit-gibbon!

Some days, you just have to say "Frak the high road".
Civil Forfeiture: What’s Yours Is Theirs

Federal civil forfeiture proceeds rocketed 4,155% between 1986 and 2013. And it could get much worse if Trump gets his wish for U.S. attorney general.

Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has been widely praised in some quarters. National Review calls him “a sensible pick that promises to restore some integrity to a Justice Department tarnished by eight years of Obama-administration lawlessness.”

In fact, Sessions is an avowed enemy of individual liberty and limited government. His stated positions include:

    Unreserved support for civil forfeiture — indeed, he proposes to extend it by overruling state laws that forbid the practice;
    Support for warrantless government spying on Americans’ digital data and communications;
    Opposition to criminal justice reforms and drug laws, and commitment to entrenching the so-called “war on drugs”;
    Opposition to federal whistleblower protection laws; and
    Opposition to federal intervention in local police abuse cases.

In other works, Sessions is an avid supporter of almost every civil liberties travesty about which we have written over the last decade.
The Rutherford Institute :: The Greatest Threat to Our Freedoms: A Government of Scoundrels, Spies, Thieves, Ruffians, Rapists and Killers

More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the U.S. government has become a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us. This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.
Read that title in Jeff Foxworthy's voice

If you fly between Chicago and L.A. you might be a drug dealer, according to the DEA

In April of this year, two Drug Enforcement Administration task force members stopped a man named Issa Serieh at Los Angeles International Airport, asked him some questions, and seized $30,750 in cash off of him. They sent him on his way without charging him with a crime.

If you get stopped for any reason and have a lot of cash, you might be a drug dealer!