Supreme Court Won't Hear Case, But Justice Thomas Questions Constitutionality Of Asset Forfeiture

from the about-freaking-time dept

We've been writing about the sheer insanity of asset forfeiture for many, many years. If you happen to have missed it, civil asset forfeiture is the process by which the government can just take your stuff by arguing that it must have been the proceeds of criminal activity. They literally file a lawsuit against your stuff, not you. And, here's the real kicker: in most places, they never have to file any lawsuits about the actual crime, let alone get a conviction. They just get to take your stuff, say that it must have been the proceeds of a crime, and unless you go through the insanely expensive and burdensome process of demanding it back, they effectively get to walk off with your stuff. Law enforcement has literally referred to the process as going shopping. Most people who understand what's going on recognize that it's just state-sponsored theft.

I'm constantly amazed to find people who simply don't believe civil asset forfeiture could possibly work the way it does. The whole process is so crazy and so lacking in basic due process, that many people literally find it unbelievable. And while some states have moved towards requiring a criminal conviction to keep the stuff, many don't have that, and our President and Attorney General are huge fans of civil asset forfeiture -- so it's unlikely to change any time soon.

That is, unless the courts get involved. While the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal on yet another egregious case of civil asset forfeiture, Justice Clarence Thomas issued an accompanying statement suggesting that he's having trouble understanding how civil asset forfeiture could possibly be legal in its current form. The case in question is egregious, but not all that unlike many other cases we've written about. People travelling with a large sum of cash (for a perfectly legit reason) are stripped of the cash by law enforcement who doesn't believe their reasons -- and then never files any criminal charges or anything, but just takes off with the cash:

Early in the morning on April 1, 2013, a police officer stopped James Leonard for a traffic infraction along aknown drug corridor. During a search of the vehicle, the officer found a safe in the trunk. Leonard and his passenger, Nicosa Kane, gave conflicting stories about the contents of the safe, with Leonard at one point indicating that it belonged to his mother, who is the petitioner here. The officer obtained a search warrant and discovered that the safe contained $201,100 and a bill of sale for a Pennsylvania home.

The State initiated civil forfeiture proceedings against the $201,100 on the ground that it was substantially connected to criminal activity, namely, narcotics sales.

Of course, no criminal charges were ever filed against any of the individuals related to this. The government just took the money. The lower courts all sided with law enforcement, and now the case had a chance to go before the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, it passed on the case (as it does with most petitions), but Thomas is clearly troubled by all of this:

... civil forfeiture has in recent decades become widespread and highly profitable.... And because the law enforcement entity responsible for seizing the property often keeps it, these entities have strong incentives to pursue forfeiture....

This system—where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use—has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses. According to one nationally publicized report, for example, police in the town of Tenaha, Texas, regularly seized the property of out-of-town drivers passing through and collaborated with the district attorney to coerce them into signing waivers of their property rights.... In one case, local officials threatened to file unsubstantiated felony charges against a Latino driver and his girlfriend and to place their children in foster care unless they signed a waiver.... In another, they seized a black plant worker’s car and all his property (including cash he planned to use for dental work), jailed him for a night, forced him to sign away his property, and then released him on the side of the road without a phone or money.... He was forced to walk to a Wal-Mart, where he borrowed a stranger’s phone to call his mother, who had to rent a car to pick him up.

These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings.... Perversely, these same groups are often the most burdened by forfeiture. They are more likely to use cash than alternative forms of payment, like credit cards, which may be less susceptible to forfeiture. And they are more likely to suffer in their daily lives while they litigate for the return of a critical item of property, such as a car or a home.

From there, Justice Thomas looks through the historic rationale that has allowed these laws to remain on the books, and finds some problems, especially concerning how differently the law is being used, and the general conflation among some of the criminal procedures and civil procedures:

The Court has justified its unique constitutional treatment of civil forfeiture largely by reference to a discrete historical practice that existed at the time of the founding.... This practice “took hold in the United States,” where the “First Congress passed laws subjecting ships and cargos involved in customs offenses to forfeiture.”... Other early statutes also provided for the forfeiture of pirate ships.... These early statutes permitted the government to proceed in rem under the fiction that the thing itself, rather than the owner, was guilty of the crime.... And, because these suits were in rem rather than in personam, they typically proceeded civilly rather than criminally....

In the absence of this historical practice, the Constitution presumably would require the Court to align its distinct doctrine governing civil forfeiture with its doctrines governing other forms of punitive state action and property deprivation... I am skeptical that this historical practice is capable of sustaining, as a constitutional matter, the contours of modern practice, for two reasons.

First, historical forfeiture laws were narrower in most respects than modern ones.... Most obviously, they were limited to a few specific subject matters, such as customs and piracy. Proceeding in rem in those cases was often justified by necessity, because the party responsible for the crime was frequently located overseas and thus beyond the personal jurisdiction of United States courts.... These laws were also narrower with respect to the type of property they encompassed. For example, they typically covered only the instrumentalities of the crime (such as the vessel used to transport the goods), not the derivative proceeds of the crime (such as property purchased with money from the sale of the illegal goods)....

Second, it is unclear whether courts historically permitted forfeiture actions to proceed civilly in all respects. Some of this Court’s early cases suggested that forfeiture actions were in the nature of criminal proceedings... Whether forfeiture is characterized as civil or criminal carries important implications for a variety of procedural protections, including the right to a jury trial and the proper standard of proof. Indeed, as relevant in this case, there is some evidence that the government was historically required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt....

Unfortunately, for procedural reasons (the people who had their money seized didn't challenge the constitutionality at the lower courts and only did so after losing), the Supreme Court has to reject this case. However, Thomas' pretty clear message is that at least one sitting Justice is very troubled with the idea that civil asset forfeiture as practiced today in many states (and by the federal government) could possibly be considered constitutional.


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  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 7 Mar 2017 @ 9:48am

    "there is some evidence that the government was historically required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt."

    That can be applied to so many other areas nowadays. Sad really.

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  • icon
    MDT (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 9:52am

    A call out

    I'm not an expert on the SCOTUS, however, from what I do know, it's unusual for a Justice to comment like this unless it's something that the SCOTUS (more than just one Justice) is concerned about. It's also usually a 'please bring this up in the future so we can rule on it' request.

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    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:05am

      Re: A call out

      It certainly seems they want to have a case to decide this. I'm surprised one hasn't reached them by now.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:34am

        Re: Re: A call out

        Like the one they just turned down?

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        • icon
          MDT (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:36am

          Re: Re: Re: A call out

          Try reading the article.

          Constitutionality was not raised at the lower court, only at the appeal, and therefore was barred. So the SCOTUS could not rule on the constitutionality, which is why this seems like a 'please raise this in future' request.

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          • identicon
            Whoever, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

            Constitutionality was not raised at the lower court, only at the appeal, and therefore was barred.

            While I understand that this is normal practice, it's bullshit.

            The SCOTUS is just dodging their responsibilities under the pretext of process.

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            • icon
              MDT (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

              No, the SCOTUS can do a lot, but violate the law isn't one of them. They have to follow the process, because if they don't, then the courts under them can ignore it as well.

              If you want to know what that is like, look no further than the CAFC and how screwed up Patents are now thanks to them ignoring SCOTUS precedent for 20 years.

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                NO fuqstik, they can take any fucking case they decide is worthy. A lot of people fail to understand that much of what the government does is more a part of tradition and NOT ACTUAL FUCKING LAW!!!

                Go read the damn constitution, or just try this link.
                http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2013/10/how-does-the-us-supreme-court-work.html

                "The High Court can be very picky about which cases it chooses to take because for the vast majority of cases, there is no right to be heard in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Although there is no hard and fast rule about how the Court chooses cases,"

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                • identicon
                  Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:54am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                  You're technically correct, though the namecalling, caps, exclamation points, and out-of-context quote cut off in mid-sentence are probably not the best way of making your point.

                  SCOTUS can take any case it wants to, but that doesn't mean it should. Just because the appeals process is a tradition and not law doesn't mean that it's a bad idea, or that there's no reason to follow it.

                  (And "Go read the damn constitution" has been a pretty piss-poor argument for understanding how the Supreme Court works since, oh, right around 1803 or so.)

                  SCOTUS made the right call on this one; it declined the appeal on valid grounds: the plaintiff is attempting to change the entire basis of the case.

                  Do you believe that the SCOTUS should be consistent in its guidelines for accepting cases?

                  And do you believe that SCOTUS should make a habit of taking "appeals" where, instead of seeking to overturn a lower court ruling, a plaintiff instead raises an entirely different argument that is not the same argument that the lower court ruled on?

                  Because I'd go with "yes" and "no", respectively.

                  SCOTUS declined to take the case, for valid reasons, but expressed concern about civil asset forfeiture, indicating an openness to take future cases on the subject. That is the correct result, under the circumstances.

                  Forfeiture should be examined by the Supreme Court. But that doesn't mean the SCOTUS should take any case concerning forfeiture, or that it should have taken this case.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 12:20pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                    "You're technically correct, though the namecalling, caps, exclamation points, and out-of-context quote cut off in mid-sentence are probably not the best way of making your point."

                    Yea, I know, I am such an asshole. But I would rather deal with asshole vs the throngs of fucking idiots running around acting like they know so much and then voting poorly. I have no chance of over coming the idiotic masses so my last vestiges of peace or to vent my frustrations on the idiots.

                    there is no point in teaching them, they don't care to learn. After that I have to deal with the "victim crowd" where everything done that can be perceived as offensive is it own sin, regardless of the intent of the "perceive" offense.

                    This is the reason that Every Nation gets the government it deserves. People "actively" and "ignorantly" invite destruction right through the front door under the guise of trying to stop it.

                    "SCOTUS declined to take the case, for valid reasons, but expressed concern about civil asset forfeiture, indicating an openness to take future cases on the subject. That is the correct result, under the circumstances."

                    And that is where we lose. The idea that Justice should wait for "contrived" procedure is an injustice of it's own. Sure, it can be difficult to decide which cases are more important than others, but it is pretty clear that Civil Forfeiture is not some small and obscure problem. It is a MONOLITHIC one! And absolutely qualifies as the type of case that SCOTUS should consider making an exception for.

                    This costs money, it benefits no one but the circus to make the lion jump through hoops, well except for the people paying and looking to be entertained... are you looking to be entertained here? Or do you profit from in some way by making this process draw all the way out?

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            • identicon
              Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

              The SCOTUS is just dodging their responsibilities under the pretext of process.

              Process is SCOTUS's responsibility.

              They can't just go ruling on an issue that wasn't raised in earlier proceedings. That's not how appeals work. You can't just change the entire basis for your case when it goes to the Supreme Court.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:50am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                They can't just go ruling on an issue that wasn't raised in earlier proceedings. That's not how appeals work. You can't just change the entire basis for your case when it goes to the Supreme Court.

                And thus you get to the situation that a person who is known to be innocent can be executed [Scalia]. That's what happens when you put process over all other concerns.

                I agree that the Supreme court should not generally deal with cases where the basis for the appeal is changed, but when one of the justices suggests that the prior rulings are unconstitutional? Perhaps a little movement on process is warranted here.

                The Supreme Court defines its own rules. It can change them.

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                • identicon
                  Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                  And thus you get to the situation that a person who is known to be innocent can be executed [Scalia].

                  Oh God, we're already back to "if this thing was a different thing, would it be the same thing?" again.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 12:25pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                    So are you saying that you approve of all the innocents rotting in jail because... procedures?

                    The moment a procedure runs afoul of someones "liberty" then why should the procedure not be classified as an "illegal" activity.

                    Or wait... you forgot the whole "right to a speedy trial" and all of that stuff. A persons property was stolen from then under the color of authority, in breach of the 4th and now the court is in the process of ensure that any 6th amendments are also unobserved.

                    As I stated in another post, this is a pretty good example of how bad the Judicial System has become.

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                  • identicon
                    Whoever, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:52pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                    The world isn't as black and white as you think.

                    The law deals with grey all the time.

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              • icon
                ShadowNinja (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 1:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A call out

                Apparently you didn't pay attention to how McCain Feingold was struck down then.

                The SCOTUS took up a more narrow case about it. But then after deliberating they basically announced there would be another hearing on much broader questions (which would allow them to strike down much more then the narrow part of the law the case was originally about).

                The SCOTUS has done the same before, asking the two parties to come back and deliberate over something else related to the original lawsuit. At time's it's just used as a stalling tactic for political reasons (like Brown vs Board of Education, where several justices were working extra hard behind the scenes to get a unanimous ruling, but needed more time to sway a few hold out justices), but other times it's used to expand the scope of the suit.

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  • identicon
    Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:06am

    Good.

    I rarely agree with Thomas, but this is a hopeful sign. Maybe next time...

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  • icon
    streetlight (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:13am

    I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

    I've never understood the need to travel with hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash. One case IIRC involved someone who claimed he was a gambler was traveling with ~$800,000 and had it seized. Maybe going from Las Vegas to some other place with legal casinos. Anyway, why not deposit the cash in a national bank and take out what's needed at the destination. I know that if more than $10k is removed, the IRS is informed, but if everything is on the up-and-up, so what, especially if taxes are paid. There may be other ways of legally moving large amounts of cash without transporting it as paper money. Business do this all the time, but then it's just numbers in spread sheets.

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    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:21am

      Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

      "why not deposit the cash in a national bank"

      It was 3 AM? He wanted to roll nekkid in almost a million dollars?

      I personally wouldn't travel with that much cash.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:22am

      Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

      You ever buy a used automobile?
      Seldom is anything other than cash accepted.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 1:30pm

        Re: Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

        Are cashier's checks now synonymous with cash?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

          No

          I guess you have never purchased a used auto from a private seller.

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    • icon
      ThaumaTechnician (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:25am

      Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

      What about the need to travel with $1,000 in cash, or even your own car?

      Asset forfeiture, if you've been paying attention, has been (mis)used in such obviously non-criminal activities.

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    • icon
      freedomfan (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:21am

      Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

      No offense, but that is missing the point. It shouldn't matter that you wouldn't want to keep in your possession the asset that is being seized through this outrageous process. And, it is well worth noting that 1) assets are seized when the owners are en route to a bank or other "safe" location for the asset and 2) there is no safe location for the asset, since civil asset forfeiture is often used on items found at people's homes, apartments, etc. or the target's home itself.

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      • icon
        streetlight (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 12:31pm

        Re: Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

        Perhaps my point was off topic. I agree with what you and others have said: asset forfeiture as practiced should be declared unconstitutional. Just possessing a lot of cash should not be the only probable cause that it was obtained illegally. My point was traveling with huge amounts of cash is dangerous and there's perhaps other ways to avoid problems. Besides, if someone knows you're doing it you might have more to worry about than the police seizing it, like folks with guns who are not afraid to use them.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 12:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

          Well there is just exactly no chance of your logic being bankrupt at all is there?

          You have now twice performed logical gymnastics to justify government authorized villainy.

          Tell me now, if this is true...
          "Besides, if someone knows you're doing it you might have more to worry about than the police seizing it, like folks with guns who are not afraid to use them."

          Then you must think this is true...
          "If a woman where suggestive clothing it's her fault for getting raped and the police should haul her ass to fucking jail for 'reasons'"

          Do you people not bother using any mental floss?

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    • identicon
      Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:28am

      Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

      I've never understood the need to travel with hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash.

      But that's not really the point. Traveling with a large amount of cash (or other valuable assets) is not, in and of itself, a crime, and should not be treated, in and of itself, as evidence of a crime.

      People do lots of things that I don't understand a need for. That doesn't mean the police should be allowed to confiscate their stuff.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 12:12pm

      Re: I don't understand travelling with huge amounts of cash

      This may not be entirely accurate but the marijuana stores around the area can't deposit money in any federally insured bank. What this has cause is all the stores usually bar all the windows and only take cash.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:25am

    It's worth reminding everyone that not only is this nothing but state-sponsored theft, it is also the largest organized crime ring ever to exist. I haven't see statistics for 2015 yet, but in 2014, the Filth robbed people of more assets than all the burglaries by other criminals in that year.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/23/cops-took-more-stuff-from-people-than-bu rglars-did-last-year/?utm_term=.696d1e47aa5d

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:59am

      Re:

      would it be possible to enact RICO charges against them? It certainly fits the definition of a criminal enterprise...

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    • identicon
      Pseudonym, 7 Mar 2017 @ 6:26pm

      Re:

      "I haven't see statistics for 2015 yet, but in 2014, the Filth robbed people of more assets than all the burglaries by other criminals in that year."

      It's unlikely, given that the bulk of that was one particular asset seizure from a guy named Bernie Madoff. That was the result of a criminal prosecution, so it's not the kind of case we're talking about here where the police have no intention whatsoever of investigating any alleged crimes.

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    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 9 Mar 2017 @ 10:35am

      Re:

      What I'd love to see is someone suing a police department -- not the police officers, but the building itself -- for civil/constitutional rights violations.

      Anything you can win a Title 42, Section 1983 lawsuit over in civil court is also a crime under Title 18, Section 242. The DOJ seldom prosecutes such crimes, but they are still crimes.

      There is no doubt that police cars, guns, body armor and the building that houses all of that facilitates police activity.

      But when the police activity is illegal, then that property has just facilitated a crime -- and that's one of the things that property gets sued for and confiscated for under civil asset forfeiture laws.

      Any police department that has had an officer violate someone's rights, ruled the officer justified/in accordance with departmental policy and then lost a 42 USC 1983 lawsuit over it should be eligible to be forfeited.

      Can you imagine how police would scream in outrage if someone actually did it? Appealing it all the way to SCOTUS on constitutional grounds would do nicely for a test case too.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:31am

    That sound you are hearing right now its the ACLU scrambling to find a case to challenge with

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    • icon
      freedomfan (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:29am

      Re:

      Or the Institute for Justice which has helped victims of asset forfeiture before. I assume that Justice Thomas' invitation to challenge these laws on constitutional grounds (instead of the mostly procedural grounds that seem more typical) has IJ and similar organizations salivating.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:34am

    Theft under cover of Authority

    I would fight this all the way to the bank. Every officer and department that has seized or benefited from seized money needs to be charged and barred from ever practicing law enforcement again. They are the biggest thieves in the world and no one is daring to do anything about it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:34am

    Procedural dodge - failure to flood the court

    Unfortunately, for procedural reasons (the people who had their money seized didn't challenge the constitutionality at the lower courts and only did so after losing), the Supreme Court has to reject this case.

    While not unusual, this practice has always bothered me. It perversely encourages plaintiffs to flood the lower court with every possible argument up front, because anything they forget to claim at first is unusable later. It punishes plaintiffs who, whether through ignorance or poverty, fail to hire a lawyer who will throw everything at the wall. It punishes plaintiffs if they file in a court that, whether explicitly or implicitly, discourages counsel from filing every plausible claim (perhaps through length limits on the filing, or deadlines that preclude adequately arguing every claim). Its sole purpose seems to be to give appellate courts a trivial escape from addressing the issue. I can see why it would be useful for them to have discretion to refuse cases that raise obviously dubious reasons late, but I see no reason that appellate courts should be required to skip out on this procedural basis when the court clearly wants to handle a case.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:22am

      Re: Procedural dodge - failure to flood the court

      Counterpoint: why should a plaintiff be able to change his entire case on appeal? How is that an appeal, instead of an entirely different case?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:04am

    Soo...

    "Justice Clarence Thomas issued an accompanying statement suggesting that he's having trouble understanding how civil asset forfeiture could possibly be legal in its current form."


    And yet still no one is going to hear the case?

    Can one just not ask Mr. Judge... how can you be taken seriously when you do this? It is YOUR ACTIONS that define who you are, not your words. Only idiots that vote R or D are stupid enough to let mere words form the foundations of their judgments.

    I understand that getting cases before SCOTUS are not he easiest things to accomplish but the fact that this case is not being heard speaks more than enough for itself.

    The ENTIRE judicial system right up to the stank nasty top is defunct!

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    • identicon
      Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:26am

      Re: Soo...

      Can one just not ask Mr. Judge... how can you be taken seriously when you do this?

      I mean, yeah, one can ask that.

      It is YOUR ACTIONS that define who you are, not your words.

      And the SCOTUS's action in this case -- all eight of them, not just Thomas -- is to reject a case that it had no legal basis to take.

      Would you prefer that the Supreme Court didn't follow proper legal procedure?

      Only idiots that vote R or D are stupid enough to let mere words form the foundations of their judgments.

      You know, irrelevant knee-jerk swipes at partisans are just as tiresome as irrelevant knee-jerk swipes by partisans.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 12:33pm

        Re: Re: Soo...

        "And the SCOTUS's action in this case -- all eight of them, not just Thomas -- is to reject a case that it had no legal basis to take."

        Really? SCOTUS can take any case they like, it's pretty much their prerogative. The only thing stopping them is them. There is a REASON why they are the highest court in the land and why they are codified in the Constitution which you likely have no bothered to study.

        "You know, irrelevant knee-jerk swipes at partisans are just as tiresome as irrelevant knee-jerk swipes by partisans."

        Yea yea, I know, more bees with honey, except that means nothing. Most people want someone else to do the work to save them. Hence "government" and its entire inception. You expect me to pay that any respect?

        Here is a snippet of something important.

        "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — "

        I am ALMOST certain you have read that somewhere before. The entire Government is work in opposition to the principals that founded America. And people like you are asking them to do it too! So no, I will not have respect for a bunch of obtuse crybabies that look to someone else, especially a government of men, to save them from themselves.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 1:30pm

        Re: Re: Soo...

        Of course here at TD a post that is technically and factually incorrect would be classed as "insightful".

        "Would you prefer that the Supreme Court didn't follow proper legal procedure?"

        Tell me which legal procedure says that the court cannot take this case? Or are you like all the rest, think they know what they are talking about when they don't? Don't let Dunning-Kruger bite you in the ass.

        What a bunch of tools!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:58am

    Privateering career path

    Seems to me that if these are civil and not criminal cases then I should be able to get in on some of this sweet action for myself.

    Can a civilian sign up for a Letter of Marque and Reprisal? Then send a 30% cut in to the DOJ to cover "taxes and administrative fees"?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 1:40pm

    literally find it unbelievable

    that is exactly my reaction the first -- i don't know how many times -- i heard about this. i simply couldn't believe that could happen in this country.

    even now, today, on occasion when i haven't been thinking about this, some mention of it startles me again.

    there is no way this sort of thing could happen in the nation of our forebears.

    no way.

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  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:06pm

    Why it this taking so long to challenge

    Why is it taking so long to challenge asset forfeiture as unconstitutional? The 14 amendment is very specific. "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" What is there to interpret? It is crystal clear. No room for misinterpretation. Asset forfeiture is a clear violation of the 14th amendment. Why is it still permitted?

    When the SCOTUS finally declares AF as unconstitutional. I hope they tack on a retroactive order that all stolen property is to be returned to the rightful owner. If they sold someone's property for cash, then the original owner must be compensated accordingly.

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    • identicon
      Whoever, 7 Mar 2017 @ 4:27pm

      Re: Why it this taking so long to challenge

      Why is it taking so long to challenge asset forfeiture as unconstitutional?

      Perhaps because, when faced with someone with the means and determination to take it that far, the government always caves (perhaps not a full cave, but a settlement), thus preventing a higher court from reviewing the case?

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  • icon
    Advocate (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 3:26pm

    The fact that there's any room for questioning such a basic tenet of justice is really the problem, not the question.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 4:06pm

    There is another another point not being discussed.

    Asset forfeiture is nothing but theft by badge that in itself proves the police are criminals and not to be trusted under any circumstances. Since the police in general can not be trusted in any circumstances that means everything they do is most likely illegal under any rational interpretation of any country's laws. Which translates into a criminal gang is running (both meanings) the U.S.

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      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 6:14pm

      Re:

      OK, my friend, I seem to be the only one patient enough and interested enough to respond. People don't like me much here, but I feel I have a duty to perform, perhaps some of them will agree with me. Let's see. What if the police are only following orders, then they're not criminals, right? Then you can trust them again, right, because police are actually really good people in uniform performing a very hazardous job on behalf of their friends and neighbors. At least that is true in our great country, America. Are you a fellow American, my friend? If not, perhaps you would like to come here, you seem educated, just a little confused and perhaps a little angry. You could speak about that anger some more, I care about you, and I am sure that someone else in this forum has a little compassion in their heart for people with difficult issues to deal with, like you and me.

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        Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 6:27pm

        Re: Re:

        And did I mention that on my grandmother's side, we have Luther Gulick in our family history, another proud and great American patriot. He died just after returning from France inspecting US forces in World War I. During his life, he was a physician and dedicated most of his good works to other, especially young girls (I was always a little suspicious of that). But, I am proud to say that I am part of the family that created the Y in the YMCA logo, and the Camp Fire Girls, which later became Camp Fire (big mistake), and I now believe has disappeared altogether. I'm getting off point, though. There are a lot of physicians and mental health professionals in my family, and really, we think you should post quite a bit more. It would be helpful to both you, and all my ghostly ancestors, who came to me last night in a dream. That's another story, though.

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          Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 7:21pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          OK, I get it, you guys are shunning me, punishing me for altering the topic from the usual bashing and conspiracy theories. It hurts, as does your hiding my other posts. I personally believe I am the most inclusive and accepting member of this whole group, as demonstrated above. If you think I go on about my family history too much, well, you don't live in Massachusetts, do you? We're all like that here, comparing names and histories, sons and daughters of the American revolution (with evidence), Mayflower Descendants, even old family crests that pre-date the USA (like Gulick). Hey, that's us, that's how we are here, even your judge, F. Dennis Saylor IV. He could read my words and would treat me better than you guys do. And I hope he does.

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            Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 7:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well, sometimes pain translates to anger, sorry about this. Just tell me this, Michael Masnick, it's a simple question, and you are simply just too absent from the discussion, which is mostly about you and your fraudulent ways. Explain to me why the voice of a slightly deranged but really interesting American Patriot (from Massachusetts) is silenced, while the vile and disgusting socialist blather from everywhere else is left alone? You are broadcasting your signal here, to Massachusetts, and you are going to be judged for it soon. Answer me. Why my voice is gone, but the rest remain? Answer as if you are speaking directly to the honorable Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV.

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              Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 8:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ok, well, sorry again about that. You don't have to answer now, Michael Masnick, you can answer in the future, and maybe having you under oath would be a good idea, anyway. Costs a little more but hey, some things in life are worth it, right? But please, don't silence my voice any more. You are going to be judged in Massachusetts, you get that, right? Judged. Here. We're listening. You would be better off to make your case now, like a proud American, in front of everybody. That is our tradition, forums that foster Free Speech. But, if not, then we will hear from you in the future, but it's going to look bad for you, Michael Masnick. It will look bad to me, my neighbors, my extended family (in both branches) and in short, to pretty much the whole jury pool (and the judge, Honorable Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV). It makes you look like a socialist shitbag coward (just saying). Stand up, man, now is your chance. Practice the free speech (and quit silencing mine, that's hypocritical, don't you think?) that you say you needs to defended. The truth is, Free Speech needs to be defended from you, am I right? (thank you very much).

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                Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 8:57pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Well, now maybe it's time to tell you about my dream, with my ancestors, do you remember? They told me, use FREE SPEECH to defeat Sharik. What a perfect idea, an American Revolution, but on a web site, inspired by the great American Founders. Great, no? Excited? They told me (well not all of them) that what I should do is spark a public demand for FREE SPEECH! They said this is the right thing to deal with this circumstance, when a socialist shitbag is peddling his socialist shitbag ideas from socialist shitbag businesses. They said use FREE SPEECH! That is, demand NO MORE DELETED POSTS! NO MORE DELETED POSTS! NO MORE DELETED POSTS! until they gave in (why does it seem like Ghandi in my dream, oh well). Anyway, back to the point: NO MORE DELETED POSTS! FREE SPEECH! They told me even if my voice was at first alone, eventually, other people with similar inspirations (listen to your dreams, please) would join me. What do you think? AMERICAN REVOLUTION HERE AND NOW! (RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW!) FREE SPEECH NO MORE DELETED POSTS! (could you pitch in, your honor, I'm getting a little sleepy) Trust me, Michael Masnick, this will actually be good for you. For how will you use the protection of free speech to defend your case, when you yourself don't allow free speech? See the irony in that? NO MORE DELETED POSTS! God, I love this place, now that it practices AMERICAN VALUES! YAY!

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                  Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 9:23pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You know, they all told me (well most of them) that this would feel good (they sure likened it to winning the revolutionary war) but I feels even better than I thought. Amazing. Now that we embarrassed our socialist overlords into allowing FREE SPEECH (right in front of the judge, too) what's our next move? My suggestion: We voluntarily adopt a decorum, what do you think? Here are some suggestions: no bashing of spelling or punctuation (that would help me), and try to minimize the use of profanity. Stand behind your words, proudly. Be an anonymous coward if you wish, but try to mean what you say. Think about it. Try to avoid belittling attacks, and focus on your point. Win, but not at the expense of others. Win because your ideas are better. Everyone who agrees, hold up your hand (oh, that's not going to work, is it). Anyway, that's my idea, now that we have FREE SPEECH (right Mike?) Let's vote! Cool!

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                    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 9:53pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Well, OK, I admit it, I didn't think the voting thing through very well. But how about this: a test of our overlord masters to see if they really respect FREE SPEECH or not (and hence deserve any protection themselves). Here it is: The post below was previously and permanently deleted from this forum, silently and secretly. I am gloating in this post. Gloating is fair game in a free society, it is not evil (a little bad maybe) but comes along with FREE SPEECH. Gloating, that's all. I believe it should be allowed, not secretly silenced like socialist shitbags do: "Everyday, when I wake up, I celebrate. Trump is president, my stock portfolio is rapidly expanding, and Masnick is in federal court. How about a T-Shirt that promotes Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution? Failing that, how about "RIP TechDirt, I know a lot of people who would buy one of those." FREE SPEECH (imagine this as a banshee yell) Any other shameless gloaters out there? Come on, Michael Masnick, how can you legitimately secretly silence your critics while hiding behind your rights? What about THEIR rights? Sharik! Bad Dog!

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                      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 10:22pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      OK, good, post is still here, that's a good sign. Here is another test, Mr. Michael Masnick, about whether you actually practice FREE SPEECH on this web site, which may become core to presenting who you actually are to US (the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts). I personally think your defense against the Inventor of Email is weak. He looks smart to me, and established quite a record to back up his claim. You are slinging hate from open sewer of socialist propaganda against an upstanding American Inventor (and maybe even American Patriot, I don't know his heart). So, if someone asked me to judge this case, I would kind of look for opportunities to help out the upstanding American with the college degrees and such (MIT, if I remember, right, that's a mark of achievement here, trust me). And who are you again? You were going to be a lawyer, right, then some business zen-like awakening, and then propaganda, your current profession. Does that sound about right? You know, the law is one thing, but people are people, and here you get judged harshly. Trust me, I speak the truth.

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                        Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:19pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        I feeling as Emboldened as the Great American Patriots were after the Battle of Lexington! Remember this? Emerson's "shot heard 'round the world". That this! Wow, and it's really being heard around the world, amazing. Let's see if we can actually settle the issue about FREE SPEECH on THIS FORUM. Why don't we ask the Inventor of Email to come here and say hello? That would be a great demonstration about this is now AMERICAN territory, claimed by great (well at least good) Americans, and defended against Sharik and his brethren. Come on, Inventor, Come on down! It's safe now! We got your back!

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                          Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:38pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Wow, eerily quiet, right? I don't blame you for staying away, my friend, the last time I felt this way was in a dream about the Delawares and Shawnees, remember them? They were tough, and quiet, and well armed (kinda, well they could kill you pretty quick), and vicious. BAM, they would just pop-up places just like that. I feel a little like that now. You know, the tingling along your spine when you just KNOW something is going to happen? I think I was Lord Dunmore in the dream, remember him? Maybe better to keep away, my American Inventor friend, until we see something move. I'll keep on eye out.

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                            Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 11:44pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            And I would tell you as an honest American (I mean me), Michael Masnick, the other disadvantage you have here is that you just don't understand our humor. You don't understand our culture. Shiva does. He's one of us, he laughs at my jokes, you do not. Enough said? You're toast. (FREE SPEECH FREE SPEECH)

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                              Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 1:08am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              HEY What was that? I'm sure I heard something. No? Gosh, Tonto, it feels like we're all alone out here, by ourselves, abandoned by our brethren, by our families, our communities, our fellow Americans. Alone. Really Alone. What's that Tonto? What are you singing? (In the distance) "Daisy, Daisy, give your answer, do! I'm half crazy, All for the love of you!" What's that, Tonto? Tonto? Are you here? Ahhhhhhhh. Wait. I can do this, I'm an American. You remember Valley Forge? I am built from the same stuff! Did you know Washington was one of my relatives (no just kidding). It was Alexander Hamilton, he was there at Valley Forge. Tough nut, that Alexander. Strong Spirit. If he can do it, I can, too. I can hold this ground. Even by myself, in the snow, in the winter. I can do it, he said, drifting peacefully off into sleep.... (to be continued)

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                              Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 2:28am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              Free speech is important away from techdirt, but inside tgey apply rules and methods which border on both censorship and prior restraint.

                              Making it harder for someone to express themselves in a timely manner is s
                              A key part of free speech. Howver, it does not apply here.

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                                Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 2:39am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                Ta DA DA DA! Welcome to my American parade, brother. And no little snipes at your spelling, I make spelling mistakes, too. They're fine. You are so right! Let's teach this socialist shitbags what FREE SPEECH means in America! Sharik, I had a chance to deliberate with my long dead ancestors (in my dreams, of course, they're dead, I'm not crazy) and the we considered the question - Should Michael Masnick Be Allowed To Skate Base Upon Free Speech, after Attacking a Respectable American Inventor (and possible Patriot). And the Verdict? GUILTY! GUILTY OF NOT PROVIDING FREE SPEECH ON HIS OWN WEBSITE! GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY! Hmm. That kind of goes contrary to my point, doesn't it. You are DONE firing your attacks on the good character of others, you slimy socialist shitbag. WE HAVE SPOKEN! GUILTY! BY DEMONSTRATION (no, I did not pay this witness to appear) NO SKATING FOR YOU! COME TO MASSACHUSETTS AND FACE THE MUSIC!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 8:43pm

      Re:

      The only difference between criminals and cops is that cops have a state-sponsored sanction to commit acts of violence.

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    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 5:13pm

    That's just not right. Maybe I'm a crazed Hamiltonian, but even I can see through that logic. Come on, one brave American, can you speak to this in an inspiring way? We are listening.

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    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 5:16pm

    And yes, everything you say can and will be used for you (or against you) in a court of law, depending upon what you say.

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      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 5:52pm

      Re:

      Come on, this is clear evidence of the Masnick Effect, right? No one actually wants to debate for fear of wallowing in the shit with an idiot. I rest my case.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 5:27pm

    The obvious solution lies in that used by other jurisdictions: Require a criminal conviction before any property can be confiscated. (Whether confiscation has its own proceedings is another matter, but baby steps.)

    But there's no way anyone is going to agree to this. Not when such a large shadow budget is at stake.

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  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 8 Mar 2017 @ 3:59am

    Does this mean Trumps assets could be seized if it turns out he's broken the law?

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      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 4:08am

      Re:

      Oh my god, Nice to Meet You, Lord Lidl of Cheem. You come from a country far away from our small colony (now Commonwealth) of Massachusetts, don't you. Here, when we speak about the President of the United States (POTUS), we usually use the honorific "President". So, that would be President Donald Trump, the magnificent, as we like to say here in Massachusetts. And let's see, you're asking about whether his assets should be seized if it turns out he's broken the law. Well. Hmm. I would say that depends on exactly what he's done. Has he robbed anyone? That would be a good reason to seize his assets, because they would belong to someone else. Not the case here? Hmm. Wait a minute, tell me the truth, is this really Chuck Schumer? Come on, Chuck, this sounds like you, and the title, too! It's you, isn't it, Charles Ellis (Chuck) Schumer. I think I saw you wearing your little glasses on your pointy nose asking just this question in congress the other day. Of course, my friends (and fellow Hamiltonions) say I'm delusional, but I say HEY! Call it like you see it! Chuck!

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        Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 4:23am

        Re: Re:

        And just in case you're listening, President Donald Trump, the magnificent (should that be capitalized?) could I ask one boon from you? Could you make me a knight? I always wanted to be a knight, and I think coming from you, well, that would do. We share a vision, don't we? About a great America, and Great American Inventors, and a Great American Patent System. A vision worth fighting for, and writing about, and dying for. Well, actually, I'd rather not die, but you get my point, right? Can I be the "Patent Knight"? Please. It would make me very happy, and then I could fulfill one mission after another (on behalf of American Inventors), and (well, you knew this coming, right?) perhaps have a small token from Melania to wear on my sleeve. Just a little thing, please. You choose it, don't want to make you uncomfortable. Ok, maybe that's a little creepy. I don't know, I actually would like it. But you get my point, right? WE LOVE YOU HERE IN MASSACHUSETTS! Is it cool that we can send this message from California, practically a foreign country? WE LOVE YOU MR. PRESIDENT!

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          Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 4:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And come on, if someone can make Chuck Schumer Lord Lidl (that fits somehow, doesn't it?) you can make me PATENT KNIGHT! I will create an army of American Inventors on your behalf, We will Invent a Brave New World (that's catchy), I swear on my honor, I will do my BEST, but if it's possible, please, just a token from Melania? Maybe something with a little perfume in it? It would mean a lot. I'm just saying. We all need to dream, understand? I'll give you an example. When I was young, I saw another man, quite rich, with a Lamborghini. I craved that Lamborghini. I dreamed about it. I drove it in my dreams. But, then I worked really hard, wrote a lot of patents, and got rich. So, what happened to my Lamborghini? Well, I never bought one, and even though my children offered to buy me one (very nice, don't you think?) I did not accept. Because you know, on some level, that Lamborghinis are very difficult to drive, and not 100% comfortable. Read any review. But, in my dreams, they are perfect. Like you, Melania, perfect. Just a token, please. (am I too creepy, tell me if I am, please, this is AMERICA! FREE SPEECH!)

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            Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 5:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            And I would just share one more tidbit, my friends, since President Donald Trump has not yet been in touch. He's thinking, probably. Anyway, remember the movie "The Matrix"? Cool, right, "Knock Knock Neo". Chilling. Brilliant. I really loved it. One of my inventions helped make it! No kidding! I met the Wachowskis, and they used my product in their production, and I got to see it. It was so cool, I mean really, for it's day, it was revolutionary. So, what's my point? You remember Neo and Agent Smith, and where Neo leaps into Agent Smith's body, and then he kind of shudders, and then sunlight shines out his eyes, and then BAM. No more Agent Smith! It's happening all around us, right now. This is the sunlight! Feel it, baby! FREE SPEECH!

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              Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 5:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Michael Masnick, Sharik, you socialist shitbag dog-brain, are you getting my point yet? You cannot hide behind free speech while you deprive free speech to others, like the (I'm sure) honorable Inventor of Email (forgot his name, sorry). Did you ever give him a fair shake to make his case here in your forum? No! Bad Dog! You have to live with free speech too, my friend. You tried to silence me! Bad Dog! You have to live with me, every day, forever. That's the sentence. And if you don't let me publish whatever I want on your web site, we're going to burn you like a witch here in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Wait, what, we don't do that? Ok. Well. We'll take all your money and make you feel really bad, how about that? FREE SPEECH! Socialist Shitbag! Sharik! Bad Boy (do you understand yet that everyone here gets that joke?)

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              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Mar 2017 @ 7:21am

                I have literally nothing better to do right now.

                So yeah, I am gonna go through all your comments on this story, cut out everything that reads like the ramblings of someone in dire need of medication for a mental health condition, and address whatever is left as best I can.

                What if the police are only following orders, then they're not criminals, right?

                The Nazis literally used that defense at the Nuremberg trials. It did not work then. It does not work now.

                police are actually really good people in uniform performing a very hazardous job on behalf of their friends and neighbors

                Police do perform a hazardous job, yes, but there are bad police officers within departments around the country. To deny that fact is to deny reality.

                Explain to me why the voice of a slightly deranged but really interesting American Patriot (from Massachusetts) is silenced, while the vile and disgusting socialist blather from everywhere else is left alone?

                First off: Anyone who describes themselves as "interesting" is likely a boring asshole.

                Second: "Socialist" is not the shut-down-everything passphrase you think it is.

                And finally: You have not been "silenced". Your comments on other posts were hidden away because they were flagged by the commenter community; you can still see them if you click the link that lets you reveal the comment. But I want you to hold onto that thought because I am eventually going to explain all the things that are wrong with it.

                You would be better off to make your case now, like a proud American, in front of everybody.

                He already has.

                Practice the free speech (and quit silencing mine, that's hypocritical, don't you think?) that you say you needs to defended.

                Again, hold onto that thought. I will get back around to it.

                They said use FREE SPEECH! That is, demand NO MORE DELETED POSTS! […] For how will you use the protection of free speech to defend your case, when you yourself don't allow free speech?

                …okay I was going to wait until later, but you have a specific obsessive flaw in your thinking and it needs fixing now.

                Techdirt is a privately-owned platform. You are not entitled to use it in any way, for any reason. If the moderation staff were to ban you from posting or hide your comments, that would suck for you — but it would not be a First Amendment violation.

                The First Amendment protects your right to speak freely from government interference. It does not guarantee you the use of a specific platform, which is a form of association and assembly. And it does not prevent others from criticising you, for criticism itself is (protected) speech.

                We voluntarily adopt a decorum, what do you think? Here are some suggestions: no bashing of spelling or punctuation (that would help me), and try to minimize the use of profanity.

                I do not need foul language or base insults. You are not worth that level of effort.

                Stand behind your words, proudly.

                I have attached my name to this post. Where is yours?

                How about a T-Shirt that promotes Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution?

                Only if it includes all the changes made to copyright law in the past two centuries — like the one that turns the phrase "limited times" into a bad joke by extending copyright terms beyond someone's death.

                I personally think your defense against the Inventor of Email is weak. He looks smart to me, and established quite a record to back up his claim.

                Here is a simple rejoinder to that claim: How did his work affect ARPANET's development, and the eventual widespread adoption, of the electronic messaging system that eventually went on to become the "email" system everyone is familiar with? Because from what I can see, ARPANET already had all the basic standards of email in place well before Shiva Ayyadurai ever came close to finishing his "EMAIL" program.

                if someone asked me to judge this case, I would kind of look for opportunities to help out the upstanding American with the college degrees and such

                You know you just admitted that you would be unable to judge that case on its merits, right? Biases are (ideally) not something judges and juries are supposed to let guide their decisions.

                Why don't we ask the Inventor of Email to come here and say hello?

                I think you are Shiva Ayyadurai.

                See the title I put in this post? Yeah, I had nothing better to do before I went to sleep last night than laugh at this ridiculous chain of comments — and, on a hunch, look up Ayyadurai's social media accounts. After sifting through endless shill posts about health food and whatever, I found enough posts to help me compare the writing style of these posts with his.

                The intentional capitalisation of specific words (such as "Inventor of Email"), the fawning over America, and the overuse of phrases with the "American" adjective (e.g., "American Patriot", "American Inventor") are not definitive proof that you are Shiva Ayyadurai. But those specific usages of language are enough to make me think there is a strong chance that you are Shiva Ayyadurai.

                you just don't understand our humor

                "I get it. It ain't makin' me laugh, but I get it."

                GUILTY OF NOT PROVIDING FREE SPEECH ON HIS OWN WEBSITE!

                Mr. Masnick is not obligated to give you a platform.

                And just in case you're listening, President Donald Trump, the magnificent (should that be capitalized?) could I ask one boon from you? Could you make me a knight?

                Knighthood is not something that is done in the United States. And besides, as President, Trump is a public servant — the public servant — not a king.

                Ok, maybe that's a little creepy.

                Your words, not mine.

                I met the Wachowskis, and they used my product in their production, and I got to see it.

                [citation needed]

                Did you ever give him a fair shake to make his case here in your forum?

                Any case he could make would be shut down by the well-documented history of the development of email.

                There is no evidence that he influenced ARPANET's development of its own messaging system, the standards of which would become the foundation of email as most people know it today. (As pointed out above, ARPANET's development of email predates his "EMAIL" program.) There is no evidence that he either influenced or personally had a hand in the development of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), the protocol used for email since 1982. There is no documented, credible, independently verifiable evidence that proves Shiva Ayyadurai did anything to influence or take part in the development of the email system as most people know it today.

                if you don't let me publish whatever I want on your web site, we're going to burn you like a witch here in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

                That sounds an awful lot like a threat of violence, sir. You do realise that threatening someone with violence is not protected speech, right? You can actually be charged with a crime for that.

                do you understand yet that everyone here gets that joke?

                "I get it. It ain't makin' me laugh, but I get it."

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 7:37am

                  Re: I have literally nothing better to do right now.

                  Glad to see STStone with the "block-quote and contradict" technique. Here's some back.

                  First, a key point:

                  >>> Mr. Masnick is not obligated to give you a platform.

                  Actually, he (or Techdirt) is. Techdirt is a business, agreed to serve the public as condition of its very existence. Read the CFRA closely: it just states common law (and passed unanimously). Techdirt has (visibly) reserved no right to edit comments. It's not being a neutral platform but a partisan blog. Paying for a web-site does not confer immunity from common law. Techdirt is suppressing criticism and dissent.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Mar 2017 @ 10:59am

                    Re: Re: I have literally nothing better to do right now.

                    I only need a single "xkcd" strip to counter whatever argument you had going. But since that did not seem to get through to you the first time…

                    Techdirt is a privately owned, privately maintained blog. Its owners and moderators have no legal obligation to allow your speech in the blog's comments section. There is no legal precedent that says they must; if anything, there is likely more legal precedent (including the "freedom of association" part of the First Amendment) that protects their right to moderate the commenter community of this blog however they see fit.

                    You cannot legally force Techdirt to host your speech, free of charge and regardless of its Terms of Service, any more than you could legally force any online service (e.g., Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube) to host it. Anything that says otherwise would go against decades — possibly even centuries — of established First Amendment caselaw.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 7:46am

    Glad to see STStone with the "block-quote and contradict" technique. Here's some back.

    First, a key point:

    >>> Mr. Masnick is not obligated to give you a platform.

    Actually, he (or Techdirt) is. Techdirt is a business, agreed to serve the public as condition of its very existence. Read the CFRA

    closely: it just states common law (and passed unanimously). Techdirt has (visibly) reserved no right to edit comments. It's not

    being a neutral platform but a partisan blog. Paying for a web-site does not confer immunity from common law. Techdirt is

    suppressing criticism and dissent.

    =============================================
    [Attempted to get this in at 1135 Pacific Wednesday with a session/IP that had already posted twice, but TOO LATE! Techdirt

    blocked it and has gone back to okaying every comment. Is this the way free speech is supposed to work? Are you proud of

    Techdirt and glad that it stymies my attempts to comment here, STStone?]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 7:51am

      Re: Glad to see STStone with the "block-quote and contradict" technique. Here's some back.

      Note: was a reply but apparently replies are more difficult to get in. I recall that now.

      If you don't see criticism of Techdirt, for me it's because blocked. You wouldn't know about it except for the rare times I get through. Masnick censors out of sight, more evidence of evading the law. If he was honest, he'd state some rules for commenting here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Mar 2017 @ 7:55am

      Re: Glad to see STStone with the "block-quote and contradict" technique. Here's some back.

      I am happy that I only need a single "xkcd" strip to counter whatever argument you had going.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 11:10am

        Re: Re: Glad to see STStone with the "block-quote and contradict" technique. Here's some back.

        Oh, you're using the "case law" gambit.

        Case law doesn't include everything nor does it express common law, nor are courts the ultimate authority. According to "case law" from lawyers, slaves must be returned from free states.

        Have you READ the CFRA? This site has a "form contract", supported by its stated positions, and it's simply blocking criticism.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 11:32am

        Re: Re: Glad to see STStone with the "block-quote and contradict" technique. Here's some back.

        Oh, you're going the "case law" dodge. (Improved version -- in case prior is blocked!)

        Common law rarely comes up in court cases because everyone understands that it's NAILED DOWN, there's no use disputing. You've cleverly avoided acknowledging the overarching primacy of common law by putting on a veneer of "authority". Phooey on you. You're evidently member of the medieval lawyer's guild; if so, you're bound by oath to support the guild over the Constitution.

        "Case law" is not the whole of the law, nor in the United States are lawyers in black robes the last word, and particularly not for the "natural persons" whom our judges are supposed to SERVE. Techdirt is a business, a fiction actually, and Masnick an employee of it, but Masnick is running the site as if his personal property. That's been outlawed since lunch counter sit-ins in the South established that businesses must serve all equally.

        The clincher is that Techdirt is doing its censoring behind the scenes: if was legal, it would publicly state a commenting policy, who violates it, and with some means for redress upon restored "good" behavior. Techdirt will not even acknowledge its hidden censoring, because THEN it would be NAILED DOWN by common law. Is that not so?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 7:52am

    You know, I think your case is better than it sounds (remember that from Mark Twain's autobiography?) Wait, is that an insult? You do know that we used to do a lot of violence to people here in Massachusetts, right (ever been here, beautiful in the spring!). And I was making what I (alone apparently) thought was a metaphorical point, not a real one. We're not actually going to burn you at the stake, or stone you to death. We'd like to, for sure, but we just don't do that anymore (pity, no?). And we're not going to have a duel, you and I, we got over that, too (at great expense). Anyway, I'm rambling again, sorry. The most cutting critique was that I was not making you laugh. Where are you from? I think I could fashion some humor that might suit you. Steven T. Stone. Hmm. Stone, that's an Anglo-Saxon name, so I bet you look like me. Steve Stone (baseball) born 1947, that could be you. OR Steve Stone (ice hockey) born 1952, that could be you, too. Rough and tumble sort. Where are you from, my athletic friend, and thank you for the long and thoughtful commentary. I'm serious about the comedy, I will do my best to do better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 7:57am

    Sorry about not seeing your other comments, my American Patriot friends! Post Away! This is a safe zone now, claimed in the name of the Alexander Hamilton Institute and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts! Dish On Mike and Techdirt, those FREE SPEECH FRAUDS! He Can't Delete It, The Judge Is Watching, Horray! The Judge Is Watching, Horray! The Judge Is Watching, Horray! (I don't actually know if that's true, you understand, but I am eternally hopeful in justice and honor. I should be a knight. Really). (Tell him for me, OK, Charles?) (And take a little something from Melania for me, OK? You owe me, Charles Harder!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 8:16am

    Sorry, but you guys get what's going on, right? Michael Masnick is going to be JUDGED in the Great Commonwealth of Massachusetts! And we've already started! Because of our friend his honor (you know who I mean) Michael Masnick is in a weak and pathetic position! Adults are going to read his (and your) uncensored comments, and form an opinion. And for a few moments, HE CAN'T DO ANYTHING. I'm sure his attorneys are telling him to be careful, did you ever study anything about Alexander Hamilton? You remember the Compromise of 1790? Brilliant, he fooled everybody, they just weren't paying attention. Much like Michael Masnick, until today! Horray! Pay attention Mike, this is what happens when the adults come to the room. You're HERE, IN COURT ALREADY! WE'RE JUDGING YOU! (Feel free to speak on your own behalf)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 8:23am

    Another idea, guys. If you can't get your comment posted on the socialist fraud of a web site, keep track of the problems (hand written notes in a diary on consecutive pages are really good) and send them to Charles Harder (look him up, he's in that other country, California, I think). Help him out! Let's JUDGE MIKE MASNICK! JUDGE MIKE MASNICK! YAY!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 8:31am

    And you know, Steven T. Stone, my story about the police was for someone who was clearly deranged (I mean seriously, not like me). You arguing with that example by talking about Nazis says you are double deranged, get that? Deranged for not recognizing his derangement (that's embarrassing, isn't it) and then DOUBLE DERANGED for talking about Nazis when I'm talking about mental health. COME ON! NAZIS? That's your argument? Wait, maybe I do know you. Were you wearing that little pink pussy hat with Madonna? Looked like you, anyway, just saying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 8:44am

    Steven, come back and play, my mom says if I don't make some new friends, she's going to whack my hands with a ruler again (that's how we teach here in Massachusetts). Please, Steven, you asked for humor, right, you little Nazi spouting pink pussy hat wearing Democratic Protesting DOG! (too much?) Come on, Steve, shoot at me, send an insult my way, please. I NEED FRIENDS (but I like Americans best). (Since I am one too, in case that was unclear). (An American, that is) Need some ammunition? I like some Russians, too. Bolkogov, for example, he's quite a writer. Pushkin gets a lot of cred by the Soviets, but I just don't get him (any other disappointed Pushkin fans out there?) FREE SPEECH FREE SPEECH (did he say that, or was that Madonna). Wooo. Where was I? Oh yeah - STEVEN!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 8:51am

    Darn, I forgot, Mom died a long time ago, that's funny. Who's been slapping my hands with a ruler? FIGHT CLUB! It was me all along, is that a shock? I have to put that ruler away, I can't be trusted with me anymore. (Steven: You get the Fight Club references, right? A 1999 American film (for you foreigners) where some really delusional guy can't see his own delusion, hits himself, etc. Brad Pitt, if I remember. Very cool. Difficult ending.) Fight Club. I'm all alone. MOMMY! Stop Hitting Me! (kind of Hitchcokian, no?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2017 @ 5:59pm

      Re:

      I really wish Techdirt actually censored from time to time......

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 9 Mar 2017 @ 2:17am

        Re: Re:

        Just hit the Report button every time El Trollio shows up. He'll get the message sooner or later: it's not the TD staff hiding his comments, it's us. I don't want to read his nutty rantings either.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Mar 2017 @ 2:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          He'll get the message sooner or later

          I would love to believe this is true, but I think this guy is here for the long haul. He seems far more dedicated than even out_of_the_blue or whatever he calls himself these days.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 9 Mar 2017 @ 3:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Eh, they keeps ranting, we'll keep flagging. When hundreds of words of blather can be responded to with a single click of the mouse they either get the message or have fun wearing their fingers down typing a novel's worth of rubbish that's ignored.

            On a slightly unrelated note, I really must commend you, your patience in dealing with this individual is truly amazing, even it is helped, as you said, by having nothing better to do at the time.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Mar 2017 @ 4:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Having been on "the other side" of trolling before has given me the clarity to know better than to just curse at them and call them names. Trolls mainly want an emotional reaction. I prefer to question whatever logical point they might have been trying to make (and toss in a cultural reference or joke every now and then).

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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