Marshall Sutherland

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.
Marshall Sutherland
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.
Marshall Sutherland
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.
Maria Karlsen
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...?
Marshall Sutherland

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.
Marshall Sutherland
Lee, Allies Want to 'Dramatically Pare Down Abuse' of Asset Forfeiture

Bipartisan group of senators asks Sessions to end profit-driven seizures.
Marshall Sutherland
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.
Marshall Sutherland
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.
Marshall Sutherland
Sort of a bounty for turning them in? The bigger the fish, the bigger the reward!
Mike Macgirvin
I've got a lot of traitors to denounce.
Marshall Sutherland
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".
Marshall Sutherland
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.
Marshall Sutherland
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.
Marshall Sutherland
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!