Tag Archives: forfeiture

South Mountain Creamery owner will get the rest of his money back

Good news in the Randy Sowers case, written about often in this space. [Institute for Justice, Edward Ericson, Jr./Baltimore City Paper, Jacob Sullum, earlier, more on forfeiture] [cross-posted from Overlawyered;

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Gov. Hogan signs forfeiture reform

Gov. Larry Hogan yesterday signed an important package of reforms to forfeiture law in Maryland. Applause to all who helped make this happen, including Sen. Michael Hough, Rob Peccola and Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice, and Gov. Hogan.

P.S. Some coverage of a January press event in which I participated at the Capitol, calling attention to the case for asset forfeiture reform in Maryland: Frederick News-Post, Maryland ReporterWBAL.

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In miniature, July 1

  • Del. Haven Shoemaker (R-Carroll County) rips vetoed civil asset forfeiture bill as one that would have benefited “criminals”; how well does he understand the bill’s contents? [my Overlawyered roundup on forfeiture law]
  • The limits of independence: Frederick County Public Schools could force leadership of classical charter school to accept unwanted staff placements [Frederick News Post]
  • Olney, population 34,000, and its many speed cameras [Dr. Gridlock, Washington Post]
  • “How Martin O’Malley Helped Create the Baltimore Riots: LEAP’s Neill Franklin” [Todd Krainin/Joshua Swain video interview with Neill Franklin, Reason TV]
  • Odd. @AnneArundelGOP seems to think it’s unfair to judge a public figure, county councilmember Michael Peroutka (earlier) by his public statements [The Seventh State, @AnneArundelGOP responds; more on Peroutka’s recent doings here (using title in his institute promotional materials) and here (continued involvement with Constitution Party activities)]
  • “The FBI Didn’t Buy the Baltimore Cops’ Conspiracy Theory” [Jesse Walker, more from Sun’s Colin Campbell on Twitter]

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In miniature, June 12

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In miniature, May 8

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In miniature, April 17

  • Not just active duty servicemembers: “MD: Lower the Drinking Age to ALL Those 18 years and Older” [Brooke Winn]
  • “Baltimore Police Admit Thousands of Stingray Uses” [Adam Bates, Cato; related on Buffalo]
  • Washington Post features the legal ordeal of Randy and Karen Sowers’s South Mountain Creamery as fuel for forfeiture/structuring reform, quotes me [more]
  • In race for Democratic nomination to succeed Mikulski, both Chris Van Hollen, Donna Edwards ranked as “hard core liberals,” and it’s not as if Elijah Cummings would provide any contrast on that [Glynis Kazanjian, Maryland Reporter]
  • My coverage of the latest round of MoCo police and CPS’s war on the free-range Meitiv family of Silver Spring [Cato, Overlawyered and more] Councilman at large Hans Riemer embarrasses himself [Lenore Skenazy, some of my Twitter contributions] More: Thomas Firey, MPPI.
  • Plans go forward nonetheless for subsidized Frederick convention hotel: “City-owned Hilton Baltimore lost nearly $11.2 million in 2012, audit shows.” [Steve Kilar, Baltimore Sun]

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As House votes forfeiture reform, GOP opposes strengthening property rights

Apparently we elect Republicans to Annapolis so they can vote against the due process rights of property owners. Per Maryland Reporter, a modest bill (HB 360) to toughen the requirements for police seizure and forfeiture of property — long overdue, as those who follow the forfeiture scandals know — passed 81-54 last week, but nearly every Republican voted against it, including the delegates from my own District 4 (Afzali, Vogt, Ciliberti). At least Dels. Karen Lewis Young and Carol Krimm (D-Frederick) were on the right side, for which I thank them.

The case for forfeiture reform really isn’t that obscure. Libertarians may have gotten to it first, but if you read the conservative press you almost certainly have heard about the problems with forfeiture too. Of several mentions on this blog, the most recent linked to resources on forfeiture and its abuse at Cato and at my legal blog Overlawyered.

By my rough check (I couldn’t find a 100% up-to-date list) the two Republicans who crossed over to vote for the bill were Dels. Glen Glass (Harford, Cecil Counties) and Robin Grammer (Baltimore County), so thanks to them too. But I fear we have a GOP caucus much of which, when an issue has a “law enforcement” label, just asks the police and prosecutor community for a thumbs up or down.

P.S. The Capital Gazette has the right idea (via Paul Ellington). More: Jason Boisvert breaks out the terms of HB 360 and writes, “This bill is fairly straight-forward and doesn’t have any poison pills that I could find. It’s an honest, serious attempt to reform a system that is widely abused and corrupts police forces. It’s essentially the bill I would have written.” More: In part II, Boisvert refutes a few assertions circulated by opponents of the bill, such as that it will prevent small drug busts, end cooperation with the feds, or force investigators to reveal their case too early.

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In miniature, March 9

  • Good for (many) Democratic lawmakers for proposing reforms of Maryland civil forfeiture law [Maryland Reporter; Cato and Overlawyered resources on forfeiture]
  • Input sought from one side only: pro-rail group Action Committee for Transit tries to stop Purple Line debate sponsored by Maryland Public Policy Institute [BethesdaNow, Randal O’Toole on WTOP]
  • “My lawn is such a little fragment of American Freedom,” wrote a retired minister who lives in Silver Spring. “Please respect it.” He sure picked the wrong county to live in, didn’t he? [Washington Post on proposed Montgomery County lawn pesticide ban]
  • DC and Virginia move to legalize Uber and Lyft, time to catch up [Washington Post]
  • Bipartisan group of lawmakers seek to roll back excessive school testing; Del. David Vogt believes Gov. Hogan has legal authority to get the state out of PARCC [Maryland Reporter, WFMD, Kelsey Harkness/Daily Signal]
  • Business gears up to fight combined-reporting tax proposals [Rebecca Lessner/Maryland Reporter, more]

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In miniature, November 26

  • Dear Maryland Democrats: no, you can’t actually expect to win elections relying on liberal Big Three jurisdictions while writing off Baltimore suburbs [John Gallagher, Seventh State]]
  • Fun with forfeiture: “Sparks fly in faked-drug-dog-certification case in Maryland federal court” [Van Smith/City Paper, also, earlier from July]
  • $155 million renovation plan for University of Maryland’s Cole Field House athletic facility isn’t extravagant at all [Arnold Kling, Washington Post, CBS Sports]
  • Despite police union’s best efforts, Montgomery County eventually managed to correct disability scam [Washington Post editorial]
  • “Does Maryland’s statewide planning make big projects harder to build?” [Greater Greater Washington]
  • Don’t worry about House of Cards coming down. It’ll just move to another state that hasn’t learned lesson about film credits the way Maryland has [Tim Cavanaugh, earlier]

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Feds: the dog’s paperwork is A-OK

Did Maryland federal prosecutors seek “to disguise and downplay” the dodgy provenance of documents submitted in litigation in a $122,640 BWI cash seizure case? That’s the allegation of an opposing attorney who’s asking for sanctions. Supreme Court precedent indicates that for dog-alert evidence to be given deference, the dog must have been properly certified; the attorney says while that may have been so, a deposition produced evidence that a certification submitted as genuine had actually been generated on a home computer after the fact for use in the litigation, and he’s asking sanctions for that. Van Smith at Baltimore City Paper:

The lead prosecutor, Stefan Cassella — a titan in the field, who wrote a 1,250-page book on federal asset-forfeiture law — cited personal reasons in asking for an extension until September to respond to the dismissal motion.

Brown’s motion calls to mind a dust-up last year involving Cassella, when he was reprimanded in another drug-related asset-forfeiture case by U.S. District judge Paul Grimm for coming “uncomfortably close” to violating his “duty of candor to the Court” by disingenuously cherry-picking supportive elements of cases in prior court rulings that, in their entireties, actually undermined the government’s position.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office says “there was no intent to deceive anyone.” Maryland is a hot spot for federal forfeiture actions, something Smith has covered extensively at City Paper and I’ve covered many times, including the case filed against principals of a well-known Frederick County business, South Mountain Creamery. (& thanks Radley Balko, Washington Post, for the generous mention)

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