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Thread: Tennessee civil asset forfeiture law is under legislative microscope

  1. #1

    Default Tennessee civil asset forfeiture law is under legislative microscope

    NASHVILLE Legislative critics of Tennessee's civil asset seizure law are renewing their push to alter the statute, which allows police to seize money and property from suspects even if they're not convicted or even charged.
    Civil libertarians on both the right and left contend the law has harmed the innocent and amounts to unregulated "policing for profit."

    But Tennessee law enforcement officials and prosecutors defend the law, saying problems involving innocent persons are rare. They argue the millions of dollars brought in annually through confiscations support anti-drug efforts by the 31 local drug task forces.

    For Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, who is sponsoring the Senate bill to rein in the practice, the problem is crystal clear.

    "The ends don't justify the means," the senator said. "We can't keep doing that to our citizens who are innocent of a crime."

    For instance, he said, if a teen is stopped by police in his parents' car and the officer finds contraband, the parents might lose their vehicle or have to pay fees to get it back.

    Both pro and con views were on full display last week during a heated hearing in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah.

    It went on for nearly 2 1/2 hours, so long that final action was postponed for two weeks.

    Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, sponsor of the House companion bill, said the current asset forfeiture law "results in a distortion of priorities, potentially prioritizing profits and budgets above the individual property rights of our citizens."

    Daniel said Tennessee had 7,616 civil asset forfeiture proceedings in 2016 and law enforcement seized more than $17 million in cash and 3,636 vehicles.

    The total for 2009-14 was a reported $85.9 million, Daniel said. And that's not counting $26 million shared with state and local law enforcement from 2009-13 by the U.S. Justice Department from and property seizures.


    It's a due-process issue as well, he said. Even if a person isn't convicted it can take many months and much money in legal fees or "settlements" to reclaim seized assets.

    Most of the money stemmed from drug-related cases, sometimes huge amounts in a state with major east/west and north/south interstates.

    But Lee Tramel, assistant chief in the Knox County Sheriff's Office, told the House panel the process works well and helps in the fight against epidemic drug trafficking.

    "Any tool in the toolbox that we have to fight these people with, we need it," Tramel told the subcommittee.

    Carter, a former Hamilton County General Sessions Court judge, has twice carried bills on the seizure controversy. Both were collaboratively pushed by groups including the American Conservative Union and American Civil Liberties Union, a liberal group. That's happening this year as well.

    Earlier, Knoxville attorney Brian Delius described the process that one client went through in 2014 when she was stopped by Sevierville police for suspected drunken driving.

    She was charged with possession of prescription drugs for sale, and police seized $11,000 in cash. Delius said the "prescription" drugs were over-the-counter antacid medication, and the cash was from the recently settled estate of the woman's late mother.

    Local prosecutors and police dropped the drug charges, but the client had to fight for the money because the forfeiture process goes through the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security and administrative law judges.

    Eventually, the woman got her money back, he said.

    Delius also described another case where a West Virginia couple fought to get their car back after their child was arrested in Sevier County for marijuana possession.

    Police acted appropriately, Delius said, adding, "It's just the system that's broken." In Delius' view, the system takes decisions from local police and locally elected judges, who are best positioned to have the full facts yet don't have authority to return money or property.

    Roger Hutto, general counsel for the Department of Safety, said the current civil forfeiture process was largely put in place by the General Assembly in 1994.

    The law says after local judge signs forfeiture warrants, civil asset seizures are handled by the Safety commissioner while the local judge focuses on any criminal prosecution.

    Hutto said the state's Uniform Procedures Act allows for innocent property owners to pay fees to retrieve their seized property.

    "Settlements are encouraged, just like when you got to General Sessions Court," he said.


    Hutto said confiscated cash and proceeds from taken property are directed by statute for drug enforcement and education.

    Terry Ashe, a former Wilson County sheriff and executive director of the Tennessee Sheriffs' Association, later told the panel that "one thing has been left out" of all the criticism.

    "It's about how many criminals we're actually arresting," Ashe said, adding most of the preceding arguments had involved a relatively few cases.

    "Bad cases make bad law," Ashe said, arguing problems are few. "I just ask you not to take one bad case."

    Tennessee's drug task forces are overseen by local district attorneys general. One provision in the Daniel/Gardenhire bill would take forfeiture proceeds, which are distributed to local drug task forces, and put them into state and local government general funds to be appropriated, rather than under law enforcement control.

    That idea drew concerns from District Attorney General Stephen Crump of the 10th Judicial District, which includes Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties in Southeast Tennessee.

    Crump said he does his job "for the sole reason of justice." Having to appear before local county commissions to argue for "pieces of the budget" to fund drug task forces or tell law enforcement what they can or can't have for their budgets will result in a "lack of confidence in all of us," the DA fretted.

    "The civil forfeiture is imperfect because people run it," Crump said, arguing that despite cases like Delius' client, there are few instances of problems.

    Still, Crump had his own story about a case where he believes justice went awry. It involved a man whose vehicle was confiscated when he was arrested with 8 ounces of methamphetamine.

    The man was convicted and set to prison, Crump said, yet a state administrative law judge ruled he should get his property back.
    http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/p...der-le/415997/
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.



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  3. #2

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    The Volunteer State leads the way in highway robbery.
    Do something Danke

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    This is what happened the last time they tried to change it:

    I dont think that there will be any curtailing of Donald Trump as president, he said. "He controls the media, he controls the sentiment [and] he controls everybody. Hes the one who will resort to executive orders more so than [President] Obama ever used them." - Ron Paul

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    None of the legislators wants to be seen as anti-law enforcement.
    __________________________________________________ ________________
    "A politician will do almost anything to keep their job, even become a patriot" - Hearst

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Collins View Post
    None of the legislators wants to be seen as anti-law enforcement.
    It is not anti law it is anti theft . Any supporters are the enemy of the people . That is how it should be sold .
    Do something Danke

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by oyarde View Post
    It is not anti law it is anti theft . Any supporters are the enemy of the people . That is how it should be sold .
    You must be new to politics
    __________________________________________________ ________________
    "A politician will do almost anything to keep their job, even become a patriot" - Hearst

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    Also , the more this is advertised , the more it will hurt tourism to the state . In my circles it is well known as the theft state .
    Do something Danke

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    Quote Originally Posted by oyarde View Post
    Also , the more this is advertised , the more it will hurt tourism to the state . In my circles it is well known as the theft state .
    No for two reasons....

    1- a good portion of the tourists are actually from up north less free states

    2- TN is a transportation state because it is centrally located and a massive amount of the country's commerce actually passes through TN either on I-40 or I-65.
    __________________________________________________ ________________
    "A politician will do almost anything to keep their job, even become a patriot" - Hearst

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    Yeah, the local TV news covered this in TN. The money is often run through one direct on I-40 and the drugs the other direct. The police set-up on the highway in the direction of the money, because they could use it once collected with zero evidence. Logically, they should set-up the other way because they will have a solid case if they take drugs from drug runners. Plus, that is the public goal of the task forces. The police didn't care about prosecution. They didn't care what the whole point of the task force is about To them, it was all about using money for their slush fund. It is a $#@!show on I-40. Whatever you do, never have more than a few hundred on you in cash. Otherwise, you are nothing more or less than a piggy bank for the police.

    Some of the disturbing behavior Williams discovered included:

    Seizure along I-40 has become so profitable that turf wars have broken out between two rival drug task forces — the 23rd Judicial District Drug Taskforce and the Dixon Interdiction Enforcement (DICE). The station had video of officers trying to cut members of the rival task force off so that they could stop vehicles and search for cash.
    When Channel 5’s crew visited the stretch of I-40 patrolled by the task forces, it discovered that the drug task force vehicles sitting on the highway were facing the west-bound lanes. The west-bound lanes are where smugglers haul drug cash back to Mexico. The task force members were apparently ignoring the east-bound lanes, where vehicles haul drugs to markets on the East Coast. They wanted cash, not drugs.
    A review of 21st Judicial District Drug Task force records showed that officers made 10 times as many stops on the west-bound side of the highway as on the east-bound side.
    Officers on the task forces might lose their jobs if they don’t seize lots of cash, Ricky Chandler, the police chief in Dickson, Tennessee, told Williams.
    More http://www.offthegridnews.com/curren...from-citizens/
    Lifetime member of more than 1 national gun organization and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Part of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign for Liberty. Free State Project participant and multi-year Free Talk Live AMPlifier.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Collins View Post
    No for two reasons....

    1- a good portion of the tourists are actually from up north less free states

    2- TN is a transportation state because it is centrally located and a massive amount of the country's commerce actually passes through TN either on I-40 or I-65.
    It is also a transportation state because it doesn't have tolls and gas prices are on the lower end. I'm sure some of the drug dealers are learning from the news and running the money back down through another state. The problem is that the people that live in TN and the border states are held hostage on major roads by the police. They can't easily decide to use an interstate in another state. I'm glad for continued coverage of this year after year.
    Lifetime member of more than 1 national gun organization and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Part of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign for Liberty. Free State Project participant and multi-year Free Talk Live AMPlifier.

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    I intentionally never spend money there and I never use 40 . I stay on the Kentucky side if I need a Hotel where sales tax is 4 percent less and nobody is planning on stealing .
    Last edited by oyarde; 03-05-2017 at 10:29 PM.
    Do something Danke

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    When I was young the only people you had to worry about trying to steal your property were game wardens and there were only a couple of those a county .
    Do something Danke

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    You do not travel through TN with out of state plates and large amounts of cash.
    Unless you like being robbed at gunpoint then having to pay to fight a court to get it back.

    You do not want to drive your car with out of state plates here while being in possession of marijuana.
    They will seize your car for interstate transportation, good luck getting it back.

    You also don't want to drive drunk here, we have no refusal forced blood draw checkpoints.
    Last edited by LibertyRevolution; 03-06-2017 at 04:56 AM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Collins View Post
    No for two reasons....

    1- a good portion of the tourists are actually from up north less free states

    2- TN is a transportation state because it is centrally located and a massive amount of the country's commerce actually passes through TN either on I-40 or I-65.
    I do not think so , as an example the two states due North I would consider much more free and there are other places they can go for vacation , West of Illinois . As far as trucking , yes I see your point, that will continue until the tennessee piracy effects them .
    Do something Danke

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by LibertyRevolution View Post
    You do not travel through TN with out of state plates and large amounts of cash.
    Unless you like being robbed at gunpoint then having to pay to fight a court to get it back.

    You do not want to drive your car with out of state plates here while being in possession of marijuana.
    They will seize your car for interstate transportation, good luck getting it back.

    You also don't want to drive drunk here, we have no refusal forced blood draw checkpoints.
    Yes , the Somalian Pirates of Dixie .
    Do something Danke

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    Titans should change the logo to the Somalian Flag with a flair.
    Do something Danke

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    Quote Originally Posted by oyarde View Post
    Titans should change the logo to the Somalian Flag with a flair.
    It is already the 3rd name for the team in recent years. They don't need another logo redesign.
    Lifetime member of more than 1 national gun organization and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Part of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign for Liberty. Free State Project participant and multi-year Free Talk Live AMPlifier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith and stuff View Post
    It is already the 3rd name for the team in recent years. They don't need another logo redesign.
    I would go with something like a one eyed pirate , Collins look a like and one star .
    Do something Danke

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    They are switching to some variant of this in 2018:

    I dont think that there will be any curtailing of Donald Trump as president, he said. "He controls the media, he controls the sentiment [and] he controls everybody. Hes the one who will resort to executive orders more so than [President] Obama ever used them." - Ron Paul

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    Tennessee is strange place . It is named after a Cherokee word ( of unknown meaning ) , but they threw out the Cherokee ( by 1838)and before that it was part of North Carolina . They had more volunteers for the North in the Civil War than all other Southern states combined .
    Do something Danke

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    Quote Originally Posted by oyarde View Post
    Tennessee is strange place . It is named after a Cherokee word ( of unknown meaning ) , but they threw out the Cherokee
    The feds did that.

    They had more volunteers for the North in the Civil War than all other Southern states combined.
    Even more than KY
    Lifetime member of more than 1 national gun organization and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Part of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign for Liberty. Free State Project participant and multi-year Free Talk Live AMPlifier.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by oyarde View Post
    Tennessee is strange place . It is named after a Cherokee word ( of unknown meaning ) , but they threw out the Cherokee ( by 1838)and before that it was part of North Carolina . They had more volunteers for the North in the Civil War than all other Southern states combined .
    Some folks say it means "the place where the rivers meet", or "place near the rivers", but there is no real consensus.
    I dont think that there will be any curtailing of Donald Trump as president, he said. "He controls the media, he controls the sentiment [and] he controls everybody. Hes the one who will resort to executive orders more so than [President] Obama ever used them." - Ron Paul

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    I think the Titans could sell more merchandise with a piracy logo .
    Do something Danke

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by CPUd View Post
    Some folks say it means "the place where the rivers meet", or "place near the rivers", but there is no real consensus.
    Probably associated with river . The first town recorded of that name in what is now Monroe County on the little tennessee river and the other town of that name thought to be at the confluence of Pigeon River and french broad River .
    Do something Danke

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    A measure that would protect individuals whose property is improperly seized by local law enforcement passed 30-0 in the Tennessee Senate Thursday.

    The "U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act," sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, lays out guidelines for damages to be provided to individuals whose property is wrongfully seized.


    Supporters for civil asset forfeiture argue it is necessary to weaken criminal operations. Opponents have said the practice has little oversight and violates an individual's rights.
    But the bill states that law enforcement must notify the owner by mail within five business days of a Notice of Forfeiture Warrant Hearing.
    The notice must come whether the owner is present at the time of the seizure or not, and wrongfully seized property must be returned in five business days after an order of dismissal.
    A seizing agency that fails to return the property seized may be considered to be acting in bad faith and subject to civil law, the bill says.
    Among other things, the bill says a seizing agency that wrongfully seizes property must pay the attorney fees of the owner an amount not to exceed the lesser of 25 percent rough trade-in value of a motor vehicle seized, 25 percent of currency seized and returned, 25 percent reasonable value of personal property or $3,000.

    More at: https://www.tennessean.com/story/new...ate/489025002/
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