Civil Forfeiture: You can’t make this stuff up

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And, apparently everyone agrees: see ACLU and IJ

by Jeff Shipley,

from Des Moines Register,

“You’re just making this stuff up.”

So responded Iowa State Rep. Clel Baudler, chairman of the Public Safety Committee and member of the Government Oversight Committee.

In April, I had traveled to Des Moines to testify regarding civil asset forfeiture. Baudler’s reaction to a law-abiding citizen attempting to state facts and express concerns speaks volumes on the growing rift between citizens and law enforcement.

No, Representative Baudler, I was not making anything up, not even exaggerating. The facts speak for themselves. The only mistake I made was anticipating (hoping) that our elected representatives would be familiar with this important issue.

For example, on April 15, 2013, on westbound Interstate 80, Bart Davis and John Newmerzhycky were stopped by Iowa State Patrol for failure to signal. Dash-camera footage clearly shows the vehicle using its signal, meaning this traffic stop had no basis and was illegal. But what happens next is what is really egregious. Rightfully earned poker winnings in the amount of $100,200 were seized due to a nonexistent connection to an unspecified crime. The victims are now suing the state. This incident certainly left an imprint on my mind, but apparently to Baudler, it is just another day for Iowa law enforcement.

In another case, United States v. $32,820.56, federal authorities seized bank deposits of Mrs. Lady’s Mexican Food in Spirit Lake, the entirety of Carole Hinder’s business account, without charging her. She fought the forfeiture and this year got her money back after a federal prosecutor filed a motion to drop the case. Representative Baudler dismissed the abuse of federal laws as beyond his scope of concern.

I wish I were making this stuff up. Cases like these resemble outright theft rather than a process governed by the rule of law.

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