Rand Paul Rages "Civil Asset Forfeiture Turns The American Justice System On Its Head"

Authored by Rand Paul via Rare Liberty,

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the bedrock of American jurisprudence. Civil asset forfeiture, a legal process in which the government confiscates your property without a guilty verdict, turns that justice on its head.

Take the case of the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. In 2009, owner Russ Caswell found himself the target of a civil forfeiture claim by the federal government and his local police department, even though he had never been accused – much less convicted – of a crime. It should also be noted that, historically, the motel had a good working relationship with the police, even providing them with free rooms for stakeouts and contacting them about suspicious activities.


The government’s basis for seizing the property? Fifteen “drug-related incidents” over a 14-year period – out of around 196,000 rooms rented.

In its reporting on the case, WBUR recounted how a DEA agent testified that it was his job “to seek out targets for forfeiture by watching television news and reading newspapers” and to check the Registry of Deeds after discovering properties where drug crimes had taken place. The Motel Caswell, with a more than $1 million value and lack of mortgage, became the focus of a combined effort between the DEA and the local police, according to the agent.

If the Caswells had lost, the federal government and local police department could have split the proceeds of selling the property under so-called “equitable sharing” – with the police department keeping up to 80 percent of the profit.

With the help of the Institute for Justice, which took on their case pro bono, the Caswells triumphed in court. But not every story gets such a happy ending.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is moving in the wrong direction on this issue — Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to increase civil forfeitures. Sessions reversed a 2015 ban on adoptive seizures, which occur when state law enforcement officers circumvent state limitations on civil forfeiture by turning seized property over to federal officials for forfeiture in exchange for up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the forfeited property. The Department of Justice has perversely incentivized police to turn civil forfeiture into an industry by allowing police to keep most of the proceeds from forfeiture. In 2014 alone, the federal government took more cash and property from Americans than did burglars.

A major problem with civil forfeiture is that it does not reflect the fundamental presumption of innocence that is vital to our nation’s criminal justice system. The Fifth Amendment protects Americans from being deprived of their property without due process of law, yet civil forfeiture allows the government to take an individual’s property without first proving guilt. To add insult to injury, as Justice Clarence Thomas recently wrote, “These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings.”

Civil forfeiture must be reined in, which is why I led my colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the Department of Justice asking for Attorney General Sessions to rescind its expanded use. Additionally, earlier this year, I introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (“FAIR”) Act. This bill would restore the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” and would require the government to bear the burden of proof that a property owner knew his property was used in criminal activity before it could be confiscated. It would remove the profit incentive of civil forfeiture and restore the motivation to law enforcement of public safety, not financial rewards.

Finally, the bill would eliminate the federal equitable sharing program and ensure that law enforcement cannot ignore state law.

We should not let criminals keep the profits of their crimes, but we must also uphold the fundamental idea that the government should not be able to deprive Americans of their right to property before proving guilt.



takeaction Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:05 Permalink

Oh Rand....I watched your Dad scream into the Hurricane for years...It is now your turn...You get it my friend..I always agree with you...just so sad that nobody hears you...Why is that??? 

Global Douche takeaction Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:19 Permalink

It's Rand vs the Money Trail. His daddy and him actually have enough morality not to accept banker'$ freshly-printed monopoly money to sell their souls. Going even deeper, the Americans who agree with Rand but are too chicken-shit to speak out have their own concerns of what government $$ they receive and could it be conveniently "cut off" by a number of fucking bureaucracies this same bloated government touts and reliably funds, day-in and day-out!I'm barely scratching the surface, but it's gonna take the shit hitting the fan and some PAIN before apathy finally gets tossed to the curb (as it should have decades ago!!) We've had it too good, and the time for change is long in the tooth.

In reply to by takeaction

SafelyGraze Global Douche Sun, 08/06/2017 - 16:03 Permalink

the constitution guarantees only "due process of law"when an acre of real estate or when the $36,000 in your briefcase (or whatever) is charged with an offense, that is all the process that is due.plus, of course, some kind of hearing before an impartial tribunal. and representation by counsel.if your acre of real estate fails to appear in court or fails to argue against the charges, don't be surprised when it is found guilty and sentenced. and if your $36,000 didn't have enough smarts to hire a lawyer, well, whose fault is that.hugs,amendment xiv

In reply to by Global Douche

waspwench takeaction Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:38 Permalink

Two honest men in politics and they cannot get a hearing.   Why is that?Ron Paul was not permitted to speak at the Republican Convention.   Why was that?The people always choose Barabbus.We should take note of every politician who does not support Rand Paul in this matter of civil forfeiture and we should publicise the fact loudly come election time.When the people are not "secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures" then we do not live in a free society.   The Constitution confers this right on the people and the Constitution is being contravened.This is perhaps the most important issue facing the American people today.   If we cannot stop this outrageous confiscation of private property we are slaves.

In reply to by takeaction

Stroke waspwench Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:55 Permalink

Sorry......The American public is too dumbed down and/ or apathetic to notice or careShitty upbringing (in school & or family)We'll have to buffer our angst with popcorn & whiskey and wait for the great reset.Nice to see those in gubment trying just the same but much to no avail.teach your children....if they'll listen & keep stackin'

In reply to by waspwench

Tiwin Stroke Sun, 08/06/2017 - 16:08 Permalink

Ima fix it for yaREPUBLICANS are slimy statist scumbags. There. They are NO BETTER than the leftiest liberal Democrat.Smaller , less intrusive government my fucking raped ASS.Fiscal responsibility? Are you fucking KIDDING?Nancy Pelosi taxes and spends Who the fuckever Repub BORROWS and spends.What is the difference between a Republican and a drunken sailor? When the sailor runs out of money he goes back to the ship.When the Republican runs out of money he sucks some Israeli dick and the Jewish central banker provides.

In reply to by Stroke

what happened Stroke Mon, 08/07/2017 - 08:15 Permalink

The government ponzi scheme of guaranteed pension and health benefits keep those involved quiet.  They have seen criminal behavior of those in charge and they are silent.  Some are leaders, lawyers, judges, teachers, social workers and physicians who have abandoned the public good for their own personal gain. 

In reply to by Stroke

Tiwin waspwench Sun, 08/06/2017 - 16:13 Permalink

Ron Paul couldnt speak because republicans are Police State worshipping war loving USA USA gay motherfuckers busily jerking off in coffins or to pics of Jeff Gannon/Guckert, or any Rambo movie. At least the democrats , while still being total theives and liars , seem to like girls better than police and soldiers.ANYONE who would support the taking of private property without due process is a total. peice. of. SHIT.Anyone who supports police in modern day America who kill presumed innocent individuals without a trial by jury-is a complete. peice. of. shit.

In reply to by waspwench

DocBerg waspwench Sun, 08/06/2017 - 18:31 Permalink

Well, not so fast on the Barabbus part.  When Ron Paul was denied a speaking slot at the Republican Convention, which was a love fest for that liberal jackass Mitt Romney, I and a fairly large segment of people at least in Illinois wrote him in on our presidential ballots.  Such write-ins do not count in this benighted state, but they sure got the Republican polling monitors pissed off.  And Romney lost.  

In reply to by waspwench

veritas semper… takeaction Sun, 08/06/2017 - 18:36 Permalink

All is nice and kosher ,but we haven't  had a justice system for a very long time.Celente calls it JUST US. He's right.I will believe we have one if I see one ,at least one big boy in jail(from the banking cartel,big corporations,politicians).But I keep seeing little people filling the private jail for profit and who ended up there for 2 grams of weed.

In reply to by takeaction

silverer FreeShitter Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:11 Permalink

Trump? Try this:

History (from Wiki)

Congress has incrementally expanded the government's authority to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises and their money laundering activities since the early 1970s. They have done this by enacting various anti-money laundering and forfeiture laws such as the RICO Act of 1970 and the US Patriot Act of 2001. The concepts of asset forfeiture goes back thousands of years and has been recorded throughout history on many different occasions.

In reply to by FreeShitter

Mini-Me Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:07 Permalink

The constitution is a dead letter.  Uncle Sam has gone completely rogue and does whatever it wants to whomever it wants.America has become a banana republic.

iampreparedru Mini-Me Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:49 Permalink

Yep I have a storage facility or two. Stopped reporting crime for this very reason. Last time I did, cops had no interest in recovering $50k in equipment until they figured out 6 hrs later it was their equipment. Reducing US asset exposure and spreading out to other countries. No use whinning, just moveing on.PS have a few venezualian clients who wish they would have moved on sooner.

In reply to by Mini-Me

Give Me Some Truth Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:15 Permalink

Sessions has made headlines with two initiatives - ramping up the war on drugs (and marijuana) and ramping up this civil forfeiture/government theft racket. The War on Drugs has been a disaster and he and Mr. Trump want to esalate it (at the same time the American people are starting to vote to legalize pot, recognizing that the pros of legalization far outweigh the cons of criminalization).Civil forfeiture is government simply wanting more $ and power and control, and taking it. It's the expansion of the Police State, something any liberty-loving American should fear and fight against.Good for Rand Paul fighting the latter. Maybe he will find more than one colleague to support him and this vote won't be 98-2 against (like the Russian sanctions vote). I'm curious. Does Trump think this is "winning?" 

Tiwin Give Me Some Truth Sun, 08/06/2017 - 16:20 Permalink

FUCK Donald trump, (whom I voted for too)PROOF POSITIVE that the lesser of two evils is still.....EVIL.The only thing I see America being great in is police killing  their own citizens, and far and away putting more of its own citizens in jail.I wonder how a tiny minority with 2 percent of the population is now 4 / 9ths of the Supreme Court? What new laws will be deemed 'constitutional' when the obvious Israeli stooge nominates yet another tribester to the court?   

In reply to by Give Me Some Truth

ebworthen Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:15 Permalink

Incrementalism:  first the the income tax, then the Federal Reserve, then unhinging from the Gold standard.Stealing your cash and posessions with no crime or guilt of any kind is just the next step.

Give Me Some Truth ebworthen Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:36 Permalink

Government takes - that's what it does. It does it with "civil forfeiture," fees, fines, licenses and taxes.Every time I watch a game show and someone wins, say, $60,000 on "Jeopardy." I think, no that person, won about $38,000. The Federal and State government just won $22,000. And, as far as I know, they didn't answer one question. "Today's big winner ... John, a marketing rep from Kansas City, Missouri .... and the United States Treasury ..."Of if someone wins "$1 million" in some lottery payout. Yeah, right. Winners invariably take the instant pay option and the payout is automatically reduced to - what? - $650,000. Of this, the government will take about 40 percent - or about $250,000. The "winner" of the  $1 million will be lucky to take home $400,000. So it's blatant false advertising - "Steven Jones, you just won a million dollars!" No he didn't. And then they run commercials praying on the stupid to spend milk money so they too can become a millionaire like Steven Jones.And the government also raked in all the funds from the 99.9999999999 percent of losing players. And they get to have a monopoly on running the game. For example, You and I can't start our own neighborhood lottery and offer better pay-out odds. Or, if we try, they will arrest us for illegally doing what they do legally - and they will take our house, and sell it and buy some more cool-looking Storm Trooper Gear for the SWAT team.But people think we have to have government and that they are "protecting" us. Who is protecting us from the government?Vent concluded. Okay, What's my fine? Where do I pay?   

In reply to by ebworthen

Give Me Some Truth rejected Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:47 Permalink

Good point. They need more and more too. Ironically enough, that's why drugs will ultimately be legalized in every state. The states need the money from the taxes. The State can also sell business licenses, permits, tax the farmers who grow it, the truckers who deliver it, etc. They won't admit it, but they'll also save a ton from freeing up prison cells and unclogging the court dockets.It's a real dilemma for the State. On one hand they want to frighten us to death (so we will need more government and more police and they will have more power and more jobs). On the other hand, they've done such a fantastic job terrifying us in the past and growing government that they now don't have enough money to pay for all the government committments they've made. There is actually a risk that government could default and they would lose power and control, the opposite of their goal. So, what's the Statist to do? Take the easy money from legalization or keep fighting that War on Drugs? 

In reply to by rejected

Give Me Some Truth shovelhead Sun, 08/06/2017 - 21:37 Permalink

Re: "Who's terrified?"You know, truth be told I think very few people are really terrified or afraid of the various boogiemen the government creates to control us. Opinion polls tell us Americans are afraid, that we have to "get," say, North Korea, before they nuke us. This alleged fear is the justification for everything the government does. How about man-made global warming. It's going to kill us all! We are all afraid/terrified and so we must act to stop this "threat." Or so we are told.The truth is how many people do you think are cowering beneath their dining room table, rolled into a fetal position, crying over the impending doom of "global warming?" Nobody. Same with this great fear of North Korea nuking us. Nobody is really losing any sleep over North Korea launching a first-strike attack against America. It doesn't matter though. Just the fact that "they" say "we" are afraid - that this has become conventional wisdom - is enough to create the government action they want. They damn sure sell fear. But the level of fear that's really out there is almost certainly a lie.

In reply to by shovelhead