Court: State Not Justified In Seizing Grandmother's House After Her Son Sold $140 Of Marijuana

from the well,-obviously,-although-it-takes-73-pages-to-get-there dept

Pennsylvania has some of the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the country. At the top of list of perverse incentives? 100% of proceeds go to the agency that seized the property. As a result, all sorts of abusive forfeitures occur. In one case, law enforcement seized a couple's house because of a single $40 drug sale by their son.

Legislators in Pennsylvania haven't made much of dent with their reform efforts. Attempts have been made but every bill presented has been gutted by law enforcement lobbyists before passage. Nothing has made its way to the governor's desk yet, which is just as well because the disemboweled bills are reform-in-name-only.

The courts could play a part in curtailing forfeiture abuse but the system is stacked against property owners. In forfeiture cases, they're not even invited to the judicial party. The state files a suit against the property, rather than the owners, and proceeds from there. Far too many courts in this nation have punted on issues like this, kicking them back to legislators to fix the problems. And far too many legislators haven't had the strength to stand up against powerful law enforcement lobbyists.

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is raising the bar just a bit for local law enforcement. Granted, the bar was already laying on the ground when it grabbed it, but some upward movement of any form is appreciated. C.J. Ciaramella of Reason reports:

Four years after the Philadelphia District Attorney seized her house without ever charging her with a crime, a 72-year-old grandmother has prevailed at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where justices strengthened protections for property owners against civil asset forfeiture.

In a unanimous opinion issued last Thursday, the Supreme Court tightened the rules for seizing property, ruling that, although police and prosecutors have the authority to take property used in illegal activities, there must be clear evidence that the property owner knew of and agreed to the crimes.

The opinion [PDF] does an incredibly deep dive into the background of the case, as well as the amount of evidence (hardly any) the state must provide to take property away from people who haven't been charged with crimes. The attenuation in this case was minimal: a few controlled marijuana buys ($140 total) from a 72-year-old grandmother's tenant: her 50-year-old son.

The court's decision relies partly on something only slightly related to the act of civil asset forfeiture: excessive fines. Weighing the value of the house seized against the criminal act, the court finds the punishment does not fit the crime, at least in terms of American dollars.

In Pennsylvania, the gross disproportionality test is applicable to all punitive forfeitures, including civil in rem proceedings. In this regard, the following three, non-exhaustive, factors have been considered: the penalties that the legislature has authorized compared to those to which the defendant was subjected; whether the violation was isolated or part of a pattern of misbehavior; and the nature of the harm caused by the defendant.

Citing Justice Clarence Thomas' recent comments in a forfeiture case in front of the Supreme Court, the court actually calls the idea of "guilty property" a false assertion -- at least not without significant narrowing of that definition.

Based upon the rich history of in rem forfeiture both in England and our country, and the clear demarcation between criminal in personam proceedings and those brought civilly in rem, as well as more recent pronouncements by the United States Supreme Court, it is evident to us that the “guilty property” fiction which serves as the basis for civil in rem forfeiture logically demands that the property sought to be forfeited be an instrumentality of the offense.

[...]

In sum, an analysis of whether a civil in rem forfeiture violates the Eighth Amendment requires a threshold inquiry into whether the specific property sought to be forfeited is an instrumentality of the underlying offense. If the property sought to be forfeited is an instrumentality of the underlying offense, the inquiry continues to an examination of proportionality. If not, the forfeiture cannot withstand Eighth Amendment scrutiny and the inquiry ends.

Then the court gets down to dealing with the problems inherent to civil asset forfeiture, a process that allows law enforcement to enrich itself without having to secure criminal convictions.

The potential harshness of a forfeiture against a property owner with no alleged criminal conduct, or minor culpability, however, must be recognized in any excessiveness inquiry, and we find doing so comfortably fits within the United States Supreme Court’s gross disproportionality test. Therefore, we must be wary of forfeiture imposing greater punishment than appropriate for the underlying crime itself. Indeed, a civil in rem proceeding can be viewed in one way as a “super criminal” proceeding, in which a property owner is punished through the seizure of his or her property, but without all the safeguards associated with criminal proceedings. While Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections are applicable to civil forfeiture proceedings, there is no right to counsel for individuals subjected to forfeiture proceedings.

In balancing personal property rights and the deterrent effect of forfeiture, the court says law enforcement must apply the law with restraint and the judicial system must act more rigorously when handling these cases. The loss of a home is a life-changing event for those on the end of a forfeiture claim.

In Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, the home is an especially significant type of property. The loss of one’s home, regardless of its monetary value, not only impacts the owner, but may impact other family members, and one’s livelihood. Indeed, the home is where one expects the greatest freedom from governmental intrusion; it not only occupies a special place in our law, but the most exacting process is demanded before the government may seize it.

It goes on to point out the trial court failed to examine this as thoroughly as it should have, especially given the impact it would have on the elderly owner -- and it gave far too much credence to the government's arguments.

As noted by the Commonwealth [appeals court], various parts of the record were not considered, or at least addressed, by the trial court. Specifically, the court did not address Appellee’s past dealings with her son when she discovered drug usage; her contention that she did not see any drugs in her home or van; her explanation that she only allowed her son to return home due to her belief that he had stopped using illegal drugs; her assertions that, if she had found drugs in her home, she would have evicted her son; that no neighbors or the block captain reported knowledge of drug dealing from the home or problems with Appellee’s son; that she requested from police some proof that her son was selling drugs, but that no proof was ever proffered; and the failure of the police to arrest her son after executing a search warrant on the home in November 2009. All of these circumstances should have been accounted for and considered by the trial court in rendering its decision. Furthermore, the prospect of evicting Appellee’s son needed to be contemplated in the context of an elderly widow with serious health challenges who relied upon her son for living assistance. The trial court should have considered what was reasonable under these circumstances.

This isn't a reform effort or a drastic rereading of the state's forfeiture statutes. It's a warning from the state's highest courts that lower courts are no longer welcome to turn in cursory reviews of forfeiture claims. As it points out in a footnote, it's not setting new precedent: it's just letting everyone know the law will be interpreted far more precisely than it has been.

In requiring such review, we are not upsetting the statutory burdens of proof found in the Forfeiture Act as asserted by the Commonwealth. Rather, we are mandating compliance with that statute and our case law, and ensuring that innocent property owners are not dispossessed of what may be essential possessions — even though not convicted of or even charged with a crime — without rigorous scrutiny by the courts.

This is the way it always should have been. It's just taken until 2017 to hit critical mass in the Pennsylvania court system.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    My_Name_Here, 13 Jun 2017 @ 4:37am

    Once again, Tim Cushing demonstrates how much he hates, hates, hates authority. And Masnick gives him the platform to spread his detestable speech while holding mine back for moderation. Where is the justice?

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

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 4:44am

      Re:

      and you demonstrate that you are quite happy with the idea of an innocent person being thrown on the street for no good reason.

      I think everyone can see where the moral high ground lies.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 5:18am

      Re:

      And yet you posted here. I've had some comments held for moderation. All of them had very strong language and most were written when I felt anger. What about you?

      And if you really support the travesty of law enforcement destroying the life of old people because someone sold minor amounts of drugs in their homes without their knowledge then you are a truly despicable person. Oh wait, I've said you are despicable before in other discussions where you showed blatant disdain for basic Human Rights. Never mind.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 5:23am

      Re:

      Exactly, where is the Justice?

      The grandson sold illegal drugs.
      Its not justice to punish his grandmother for a crime she did not commit.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re:

        I wouldn't of given a crap if the grandma actually sold the drugs and made the whole $140. Who the F cares. Fine her $140. That's the most I'm willing to go for a punishment.

        These completely DUMB laws where the thug Police can steal your house and cars over hardly anything. Even if you're not even charged with a crime, or found not guilty is what's criminal.

        We need to just end the whole drug war and put most of the police out of business. Those left should worry about real crimes.

        Somehow Abortion is OK because what you do to your own body is up to you, even though I think it's murder, but doing drugs, when is to your own body is wrong? Even though Alcohol which is worse is legal? Doesn't make any sense. When Alcohol was Illegal, it didn't stop people from drinking, inducing the people who created these laws and enforced the laws. What it did do is create a lot of crime. Big criminal Alcohol cartels. Just like with drugs. Make drugs legal, that all goes away. No selling drugs on the corner.

        It really all needs to end, The war on drugs will NEVER be won. It does far, far more harm then good. Just look at the Police trying to throw a grandma out onto the streets over $140 in drug sales she had nothing to even do with. That is what's criminal!!! The people who thought that was ok should be thrown into jail themselves and right out of their houses. See how they like it. No crime? Doesn't matter, it's no different.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Doesn't make any sense."

          Welcome to humanity. If it makes sense, we hate it because it means that it cannot be gamed. The last thing most humans want is to earn their keep. They will if they have to, but if they don't, then its just a game of who is on top.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 5:29am

      Re:

      What's so detestable about Tim's speech and how does it demonstrate hatred of authority in this article? The entire post is an analysis of a court case establishing limits on civil asset forfeiture. If he blindly hates authority as you assert then why would he focus on a decision by the PA Supreme Court, which would be the ultimate authority for the entire state. Instead, shouldn't he be pontificating on the woeful state of forfeiture without relying on any authority other than his own arguments?

      As a Pennsylvanian, I, for one, am relieved to read about some limits being placed on asset forfeiture. The police in this case didn't even arrest the homeowner's son. If they don't consider him to be guilty of a crime how can they seize the house while still complying with the 5th and 14th amendments? Due process is a constitutional requirement and the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land. As such it would be the highest authority, so it seems to me like you're the one who has an issue with authority.

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

      • icon
        williamsmmsoe (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re:

        Don't construe this as disagreeing with you. I detest asset forfeiture as it currently exists:

        Due process doesn't really apply to civil cases, and these forfeitures are run under the civil banner, unless it's beneficial to call it criminal, then it's schroedinger's case of sorts.

        Half of this mess could be resolved by not permitting these to be civil proceedings in the first place.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I know it doesn't apply in civil cases; however, that's what makes seizing of property in a civil proceeding unconstitutional. The 5th Amendment states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. The seizure of property without due process of law is unconstitutional on its face. I know the legal and logical gymnastics the courts and justice system have tried to undertake the pretend it isn't, but they're really just being corrupt and self-interested.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 6:28am

      Re:

      Where is the justice?

      I think that is what all of us are asking. Do you think that seizing someone's home for the act of a grandchild is just?

      Let me ask you something - Do you have kids?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 6:39am

      Re:

      Low-effort troll. Back to your bridge.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 7:22am

      Re:

      I am curious what your side of it is then. Do you think they should have just executed the grandmother in a "shoot out" where they plant the guns afterwards? Wouldn't have had to deal with the lawsuit then.

      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, 13 Jun 2017 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      And of course the weak minded TD community flags it.

      OMG someone said something I did not like... *swoon*

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

      • icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re:

        I think people flag posts so they won't be bored to death if they return to read the thread several times. It's also a form of voting. Anyone may yet view it and reply, and do so.

        I think the fainting couch is for you.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          psychology... the more we have and use tools to bludgeon others with, the more we will want them and use them.

          what happens to people when they get used to that?

          And people wonder why civility in online interactions are only getting worse.

          I would rather hear my enemy and response why I do not like. attempts to silence them makes them escalate. Despite many people around here disliking how cops act around danger you all exhibit the exact same behaviors.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re:

        Interesting - what part of My_Name_Here's comment did you consider to be appropriate and worthy of protection? Please explain.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 9:23am

        Re: Re:

        It's not that no one liked it. It's because it's idiotic, trollish drivel that adds nothing to the conversation.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It is important to understand the crowds in which you are a part of.

          If your solution is to silence what you don't like under the guise of "It's because it's idiotic, trollish drivel that adds nothing to the conversation." then you really have nothing to say when someone decides your post or comment is of the same merit.

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

          • identicon
            Thad, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yes, exactly.

            If I ever start writing constant insipid, repetitive, off-topic posts that disgust the community as thoroughly as Whatever's do, then go ahead and flag away. Not only would I deserve it under those circumstances, but by posting here I am consenting to the social contract that defines those community standards.

            And if I didn't like it, I could leave.

            Hint. Fucking. Hint.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 1:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              don't worry, someone might think you deserve more than just a flagging next time.

              If it is okay to slight another for a small thing then what about a large thing? What if something is small for one, but large for another?

              It does not end and never will. All that we are left with is, your ideal vs my ideals, proving that cultures cannot exist peacefully.

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

              • identicon
                Thad, 13 Jun 2017 @ 1:30pm

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

                See, that's what I'm talking about. Some jagoff shows up in a thread about civil forfeiture, starts ranting about something completely fucking unrelated, and can't do any better to defend his position than a half-assed slippery-slope argument.

                That's why posts get flagged: because they deserve to.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:54am

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

                  What an idiot you paint yourself with the word "jagoff". Are you 14?

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

                  • identicon
                    Thad, 15 Jun 2017 @ 3:02pm

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

                    Yeah, I'm sorry about that; I can only in my wildest dreams aspire to the Shakespearean linguistic genius that graced the world with the phrase "nasty bitter idiot".

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

    • identicon
      Someone, 13 Jun 2017 @ 2:15pm

      Re:

      "Authority" deserves the hate, when it is corrupted and broken.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 4:52am

    Every asset forfeiture story makes me happy not to live in your great, great states.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 8:00am

      Re:

      fwiw, some states are better than others - Penn is one of the worst.

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

    • icon
      tom (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      We do tend to be a laid back folk about a lot of things that don't directly impact us personally. But when enough of us get pissed off about something, stuff happens. The problem is "Stuff happens", often makes the situation worse. When the number of folks worried about drug use in the 70's got large enough, we got the "War on Drugs." One weapon in that war was civil forfeiture, which was at first targeted at billionaire drug lords living out of country. But govt officials figured out there was more money to be had targeting normal people in the US that couldn't afford the best lawyers that billions in cash can hire.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 11:35am

        Re: Re:

        "When the number of folks worried about drug use in the 70's got large enough ... "

        ... as a result of political propaganda aimed at getting the "law 'n order" vote in order to fill the new private prisons.

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

        • identicon
          Thad, 13 Jun 2017 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And don't forget the racist dogwhistles!

          Nixon kicked off the drug war because he associated heroin with African-Americans and marijuana with the anti-war movement, and considered both groups to be threats to his presidency.

          It didn't stop with Nixon, of course; after that you had Reagan's "young bucks" and "welfare queens", Bush Sr's Willie Horton ad, the Clintons' "superpredators", and so on.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 8:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Racist dog whistles"?

            Aww, Thadwick, are you displaying your victimhood for all to see?

            Tell us more, poor baby. Let it out. What the heck are you saying?

            You have an insight into Nixon's mind? And Reagan's, and Bush's, and ...

            You knew what they were all thinking and you hear secret messages from them, right, and old white people hear the messages too, right? That's a "dog whistle", right, a secret message sent by those big bad politicians? And these secret messages and secretly acknowledged by everyone who persecuted you, right, probably old white men?

            "Dog Whistle" indeed. What spurious idiocy.

            Go ahead and explain "dog whistle", genius. Spell it out for us, mind reader.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 6:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Wow, so this is the intellectual ambrosia that Shiva Ayyadurai's favorite attack dog has been reduced to: user-specific insults and tirades. Genius!

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 15 Jun 2017 @ 2:11am

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

                Oh, he's been doing that for a while. He's stopped lacing his posts with conspiracy and misogyny-laden rants, for a moment at least.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 15 Jun 2017 @ 2:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's a fairly well-known fact that a lot of anti-drug propaganda was racially motivated, from the "reefer madness" period up to the beginning of the war on drugs. There's also plenty of evidence that, even if this was not the outright intention to begin with, minorities have tended to suffer disproportionately as a result of the laws passed.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_the_War_on_Drugs

              Is that a good enough starting point for you, or do you need something spelled out in smaller words?

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

            • identicon
              Thad, 15 Jun 2017 @ 2:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You have an insight into Nixon's mind?

              No need for mind-reading. Nixon made tapes, champ.

              And these secret messages and secretly acknowledged by everyone who persecuted you, right, probably old white men?

              You seem to be making some interesting assumptions about my identity, Anonymous Coward.

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

  • identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Jun 2017 @ 5:30am

    Error

    Hi Tim, you need to correct the headline from

    _Court: State Not Justified In Seizing Grandmother's House After Her Son Sold $140 Of Marijuana_

    to

    **Court: State Not Justified In Seizing Grandmother's House After Her Son Sold $40 Of Marijuana**

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 5:45am

    it was a car accident wasn't it.

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

  • identicon
    Jason, 13 Jun 2017 @ 6:11am

    Specifically, the court did not address... that no neighbors or the block captain reported knowledge of drug dealing from the home or problems with Appellee’s son;

    Well, why didn't they seize all of the neighbors' homes too, then? Clearly they were just as "complicit" in any crime as the grandmother.

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

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 13 Jun 2017 @ 6:29am

    Hey now, don't give them ideas.
    The ones they occasionally have on their own are bad enough.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 6:51am

    How

    I'm not a law guy, but how does any forfeiture case (without a conviction of the owner) make it by the 5th amendment? Do they just redefine 'due process' to not involve the one being deprived of property?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:14am

      Re: How

      Well, they never "took" the property from you, they detained it because they believed that the property itself had been party to criminal activity. And since non-humans lack legal protections​ like jury of peers, etc, they can then find the property guilty and take possession of it. Of course, you can't expect the state to build some kind of house jail so the property which has no rights, is sold (to the sherrif's nephew or the like)

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:22am

        Re: Re: How

        They took property. Plain and simple. Asset forfeiture laws are specifically unconstitutional and exactly what the 4th & 5th were specifically designed to prohibit the government from doing.

        But hey, everyone here hates the Constitution anyways so who the fuck cares?

        I have yet to meet a single American citizen that actually genuinely cares for the document. Everyone has a Liberty they are willing to sacrifice in their crusades over their "political causes". And when you are okay with destroying any amendment, then you approve of all of them being destroyed.

        The constitution is an All or Nothing deal. It is foundationally, the most important component of our legal system and it is generally ignored by everyone!

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

        • identicon
          Thad, 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:54am

          Re: Re: Re: How

          And when you are okay with destroying any amendment, then you approve of all of them being destroyed.

          Yes, because if you agree with the repeal of prohibition, that means you want to quarter British troops in your home.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 1:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How

            Your ignorance is astounding.

            What does the act of "Legally changing the Constitution" such as will the prohibition have to do with "Laws that contradict the Constitution" such as asset forfeiture?

            These problems are VERY different. One followed due process and passes constitutional muster, the other was a usurpation of power and disregards foundational constitutional law.

            Are you really not able to understand these very significant differences?

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

            • identicon
              Thad, 13 Jun 2017 @ 1:34pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How

              Your exact words were "And when you are okay with destroying any amendment, then you approve of all of them being destroyed."

              I pointed out that we did, in fact, destroy an amendment once, and it did not result in any other amendments being destroyed, nor did support for the destruction of one amendment imply support for destruction of any others.

              If you misspoke and I responded to the thing you actually said instead of the thing you secretly meant, I can understand how that's frustrating. But there's no need for name-calling.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 2:03pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How

                Changing the constitution legally is not destroying it. Passing laws that are unconstitutional and then supporting those laws destroys it. Not a hard concept but based on the postings around here, your level of intelligence appears to be par for for the course.

                "If you misspoke and I responded to the thing you actually said instead of the thing you secretly meant, I can understand how that's frustrating. But there's no need for name-calling."

                If you desire to reproach others for their perceived offensive language perhaps you should first consider your own.

                Please keep your straw men to yourself sir or ma'am! It is my opinion that you deserve every last vestige of evil visited upon you by the law since your intellectual corruption has been so well cultivated!

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

                • identicon
                  Thad, 13 Jun 2017 @ 2:46pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How

                  Changing the constitution legally is not destroying it.

                  I never said anything about destroying the Constitution. I referred to destroying an amendment to the Constitution. Legal or not, that amendment was destroyed.

                  If you desire to reproach others for their perceived offensive language perhaps you should first consider your own.

                  Please keep your straw men to yourself sir or ma'am!

                  Wow, did you just accuse me of using a strawman one sentence after using a strawman yourself? You've got chutzpah, I'll give you that.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 6:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: How

          Who are you accusing of hating the Constitution? Certainly not people that believe government workers should follow the document. You need to explain how a police officers confiscate phones without authority. Police officers unlawfuly access databases. They detain citizens based on fabricated laws. These are just some examples, but Techdirt hates the Constitution. Right.

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

  • identicon
    David, 13 Jun 2017 @ 6:58am

    State against house.

    Can't wait until the first accused house gets a contempt of court citation for failure to rise at the bench.

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

  • icon
    stderric (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 7:16am

    In balancing personal property rights and the deterrent effect of forfeiture, the court says law enforcement must apply the law with restraint

    And in balancing healthy moderation and the pleasure of indulging oneself, gluttons must feast with restraint.

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

    • icon
      Madd the Sane (profile), 20 Jun 2017 @ 9:11pm

      Re:

      If cases like this keeps coming before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Things will happen. What those Things are will depend on a lot of factors, like how much influence and power the Court has and how often these things happen.

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

  • identicon
    Max, 13 Jun 2017 @ 9:31am

    The only possible explanation that there exist any people who don't completely lose their sanity faced with the mere existence of laws such as any asset forfeiture in general, is that America is by now well and truly the land of "First they came for [someone else, and serves you right, you filthy hippie]..."

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

  • icon
    Hoboviking (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 9:59am

    Bad Seeds

    Which ever officers are behind this are disgusting pieces of crud.

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

  • icon
    Advocate (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 10:45am

    Legal fictions are still fictions and ought to be treated as such. And incidentally, fiction has no place in justice. You'd think someone would see that by now.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2017 @ 11:41am

    since they illegally took her house does that mean she gets to seize their place of business? I mean whats good for the goose....

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 1:32pm

    ...Hmm

    $40 purchase..
    $140 in sales..
    What was the FINE??

    Previous article..

    "A City Paper review of 100 cases from 2011 and 2012 found the median amount of cash seized by the District Attorney was only $178."

    "Philadelphia hauls in about $6 million a year from asset forfeiture, a program ostensibly aimed at curbing drug trafficking. Ciaramella points out that this total is greater than Brooklyn and Los Angeles combined."

    "Despite the dismissals of cases against Sourovelis's and Welch's homes (and I'm pointing this out again to highlight the ridiculousness of asset forfeitrue), the district attorney is still claiming both a victory and prime, beachfront real estate on the Moral High Ground. "

    So, they Jail you, Dismiss the charges, and THEN take your house?? and YOU WERE NEVER FOUND GUILTY???
    Even IF' you were guilty, its NOT a fair Exchange of value...or to PAY the charges leveled against you..

    States taking advantage of Laws created to EQUALIZE the damage done?? Sales received??

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

  • icon
    stderric (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 2:41pm

    In Pennsylvania, the gross disproportionality test is applicable to all punitive forfeitures, including civil in rem proceedings.

    In other news, Philadelphia cops have discovered that marijuana has a street value of $100,000/oz and is used by people that host frequent Kitten-Vivisection and Orphan-Kicking parties.

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


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