Arguments Against Civil Forfeiture

Decent Essays
Arguments Against Civil Forfeiture
Dr. Dan Mitchell, a public finance economist, argues against civil forfeiture in his article “Jeff Sessions and the Thuggery of Asset Forfeiture” In his article, Dr. Mitchell makes the case that civil forfeiture is nothing more than “thuggery” by the government. Dr. Mitchell writes “ asset forfeiture occurs when governments steal money and property from citizens without convicting them of any crime. Or sometimes without even charging them with a crime” (Mitchell, 2017)
Stefan F. Cassella, would object to Dr. Mitchell’s arguments against civil forfeiture. Cassella, argues in favor of civil forfeiture by arguing, “The modern laws allow the government to seize contraband - property that is simply unlawful to
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This leads to police departments confiscating cash and other goods for the sole purpose of padding their bottom line rather than keeping our communities safe.
Sourovelis v Philadelphia (2014)
The greatest abuse of civil forfeiture in the United States is currently taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 2002 to 2012 the government of Philadelphia seized over $64 million in forfeiture funds. This included cash, cars and other property. Of this $64 million, $25 million was used to pay the salaries of city employees. To remedy this sin, the Institute for Justice has brought forth a major, class action lawsuit. (Philadelphia Forfeiture)
In May of 2014, the Sourovelis family had their family home seized. The reason- their son had been caught selling $40 worth of drugs outside of the family home. The Sourovelis family was thrown out of the house for one week. The have been permitted back in pending the outcome of the proceedings. However, they were forced to kick their son out and agreed to waive their rights in any civil-forfeiture proceedings in the future. (Philadelphia
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In addition to the Sourovelis family, two other individuals, who have lost property through civil forfeiture, have joined the suit. These two individuals are Doila Welch and Norys Hernandez. (Philadelphia Forfeiture)
This case currently sits in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It was filed on August 11, 2014, and is currently open.
The arguments of the Institute for Justice, on behalf of Sourovelis and the other plaintiffs are that, “Failure to provide notice or a hearing before seizing real property violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (34), “Requiring real property owners to waive statutory and constitutional defenses in future civil forfeiture proceedings violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (36), “Failure to provide a prompt, post-deprivation hearing violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment” (37), “Repeatedly ‘Relisting’ forfeiture proceedings violates the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”(38), “The Retention of Forfeited property and its proceeds by law enforcement defendants violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (39), and “Defendants policy and practice of prosecutors controlling courtroom 478 ‘hearings’ violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
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