Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Robber State

Via dailykos.com, a New Yorker story, "Taken", tells us how civil forfeiture laws enable local police and law departments to extort property from innocent citizens who haven't been charged with anything.
In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on a par with “probable cause” is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime, or even be accused of one. Unlike criminal forfeiture, which requires that a person be convicted of an offense before his or her property is confiscated, civil forfeiture amounts to a lawsuit filed directly against a possession, regardless of its owner’s guilt or innocence.
Over the past year, I spoke with more than a hundred police officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and forfeiture plaintiffs from across the country. Many expressed concern that state laws designed to go after high-flying crime lords are routinely targeting the workaday homes, cars, cash savings, and other belongings of innocent people who are never charged with a crime.
Texas become Bihar, except that nobody in Bihar would pretend this is anything but corrupt.  India has a reputation for corruption, but that sometimes seems to simply mean that practices that are legal in Texas are illegal in India. (It is not just Texas that uses these laws, but that state prides itself in protecting the untrammeled rights of a property owner to do whatever; it seems to be true only if the property owner is rich, powerful and connected.)

And where is the Supreme Court of the USA in all of this?  It has no hesitation promoting the conservative majority's pet political causes, like installing a President Bush, allowing unlimited money in politics, in eviscerating voting rights, and so on.