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Subject: Careful where you drive in Texas buddy! rss

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Stephen Dunne
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Seems that some of the law enforcement types out in East Texas are feeling the need to flex the ol law enforcement muscle. Nice job they have been doing at taking what was intended to be a law to further punish drug dealers and instead use it to break innocent people.


Blank forms the officers can force people to fill out to seize the drivers property under threat of felony charges and having your kids taken by CPS - priceless.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-texas-p...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-texas-pro...
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True Blue Jon
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Who watches the watchmen?
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Stephen Dunne
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quozl wrote:
Who watches the watchmen?


Indeed sir.


Indeed.
 
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Jeff
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This is nothing new, but it's another great example of how our misguided war on drugs is destroying the integrity and the effectiveness of legitimate law enforcement.

This is an extreme case, but the financial draw of property seizure generally makes drug crime a priority over less lucrative avenues of enforcement. And it doesn't even require a conviction; even if a suspect is never charged, it could take months of legal wrangling to get his property back, if it gets returned at all.

Sure, the illicit drug trade is ultimately a business concern, but this law doesn't just affect international drug traffickers; even possession can lead to a forfeiture. And it's the people who are charged with possession who are hit the hardest, because they probably didn't have the forethought to put all their property in their mom's name.

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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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I wouldn't call driving down the road with a glass pipe and 6k in cash "completely innocent". It's highly suspect at best. Still... that said, the idea of seizing with no conviction seems like a major violation of rights. Ok, so they're signing it away, so that makes it legal according to the cops, but something definitely needs to change in that situation. It's all too easy for cops to intimidate the crap out of people. Some people would sign a lot more than that under those conditions. Seems like a defense attorney, an appointed one, should be required to be present for anyone to sign anything when a cop is sitting on the other side of the table (or squad car).
 
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ejmowrer wrote:
I wouldn't call driving down the road with a glass pipe and 6k in cash "completely innocent".

Did this happen in all 140 cases?
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The Steak Fairy
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sbszine wrote:

Did this happen in all 140 cases?


Maybe. You know how biased the media can be...they'd never tell us if so.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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No, and they made sure not to specify exactly what was taken in each case, but my guess is that the cops weren't taking 5 to 10 bucks out of a guys wallet. Overzealous? Yes. Racist cops? Possibly. Intentionally and deliberately shaking down blacks on a routine basis with zero evidence? I doubt it. The entire police department would have to be in on something like that.

I just like to try to be objective instead of immediately lighting up my torch and grabbing the pitchfork after reading a couple of sensationalist articles on the subject. As always, the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle of what the cops are claiming and what the angry mob claims.
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!
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ejmowrer wrote:
No, and they made sure not to specify exactly what was taken in each case, but my guess is that the cops weren't taking 5 to 10 bucks out of a guys wallet. Overzealous? Yes. Racist cops? Possibly. Intentionally and deliberately shaking down blacks on a routine basis with zero evidence? I doubt it. The entire police department would have to be in on something like that.


Quote:
Tenaha Mayor George Bowers, 80, defended the seizures, saying they allowed a cash-poor city the means to add a second police car in a two-policeman town and help pay for a new police station.
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Ken
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If I hadn't been swamped at work when I read this story, I would have started a thread on this myself. I personally find seizure laws that aren't based on a conviction offensive - the state should not be able to take property based on suspicion for any reason, particularly if charges never need to be filed. I find that the idea violates the entire premise of due process because now the person whose stuff was seized needs to sue to either get it back or cough it up because they can't afford it.

I think it an abuse of power that provides ample opportunity for corruption and fail to see why we, as a society, should support laws that violate our basic rights. What happened to the 4th Amendment?
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Ken
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Koldfoot wrote:
This went on for 3 years with no one fighting it?


Did you read the article? There's active litigation pending on the actions of the police after numerous complaints and investigations.

Or do you think that filing a lawsuit "just happens" without it taking any time?
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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perfalbion wrote:
If I hadn't been swamped at work when I read this story, I would have started a thread on this myself. I personally find seizure laws that aren't based on a conviction offensive - the state should not be able to take property based on suspicion for any reason, particularly if charges never need to be filed. I find that the idea violates the entire premise of due process because now the person whose stuff was seized needs to sue to either get it back or cough it up because they can't afford it.

I think it an abuse of power that provides ample opportunity for corruption and fail to see why we, as a society, should support laws that violate our basic rights. What happened to the 4th Amendment?


The problem is that the police are intimidating people into signing it away, thus making it "legal". It's essentially the same issue as coerced "confessions" under intimidation.
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Ken
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ejmowrer wrote:
The problem is that the police are intimidating people into signing it away, thus making it "legal". It's essentially the same issue as coerced "confessions" under intimidation.


If the seizure laws didn't exist in the first place, they'd lose a significant weapon for that coercion. I think the behavior of the police department that's been reported is shocking and outrageous if it's 100% true (I suspect it's not, but then I suspect it'll end up being very largely true). But since they can turn a profit backed by seizure laws without filing charges, they get a tool that helps to hide bad behavior.

So I understand it's coercion. Without having to file charges and pursue verdicts, you make it easier to profit from those actions. On top of striking me as flying in the face of civil rights.
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Matthew Kloth
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Shushnik wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me how each group wants to safeguard a few of our constitutional rights, but not necessarily others. One side is vehemently for 2nd amendment rights, but not so much for 4th. The other is vehemently for 4th, but willing to concede 2nd.

Can we please just have all of them defended? Please?

Don't get me wrong, if you'd like to change them go ahead and try. But until you do, can't we all stand strong that they're guaranteed to all citizens? Is that too much to ask?

WTF does this have to do with this topic? Plus, I apparently don't belong in either of your groups.
 
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Jeff
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Shushnik wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me how each group wants to safeguard a few of our constitutional rights, but not necessarily others. One side is vehemently for 2nd amendment rights, but not so much for 4th. The other is vehemently for 4th, but willing to concede 2nd.

Can we please just have all of them defended? Please?

Don't get me wrong, if you'd like to change them go ahead and try. But until you do, can't we all stand strong that they're guaranteed to all citizens? Is that too much to ask?


I'm OK with everything but the third. Something about having soldiers forced on me really gets me excited.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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I agree with your bottom line, that the practice is very questionable and is lacking due process. However, I don't want to see any knee-jerk laws drafted that tie the cops hands when they find drivers that happen to have giants wads of cash in their car. If that isn't a good reason to search a car I don't know what is (not that it's illegal in and of itself, just unusual and a red flag).

This will be tough to legislate, though, as they are not inherently violating 4th ammendment rights when the suspect signs the right away. I still argue that the real issue is the intimidation. Most people, even after hearing their miranda rights, don't seem to make the wise choice of not saying another word or signing anything without that lawyer present. I'm not even sure they are required to read the miranda rights if they're not making an arrest. If you take this law away, I predict the same types of things happening, only with more arrests, bogus "confessions" and speedy trials (which already happens far too often)


 
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Shushnik wrote:
ejmowrer wrote:
I agree with your bottom line, that the practice is very questionable and is lacking due process. However, I don't want to see any knee-jerk laws drafted that tie the cops hands when they find drivers that happen to have giants wads of cash in their car.


I don't think anyone here is advocating removing the cops' right to search when there are plain sight indicators of crime. Everyone here is talking about not allowing the police to profit from seizure without conviction. I don't think it hampers their ability to be police if we tell them, "No, you can't take their stuff under any circumstances. You can't have their property. The state can take it after conviction of a crime. You cannot take it before that, even if they want to give it to you."


Right, but it's all tied together. Under the same amendment, they don't have the right to search the car without a warrant, issued by a judge, but we've set up laws that allow the search IF the suspect authorizes it. In that case, they don't even need to sign anything as far as I know, just a verbal permission to search their car (or house at the case might be). I'd love to see one of those forms to see what exactly they are signing.

Also, it's not just the 4th amendment, it's the 5th as well it seems. Taking property without due process and without compensation.
 
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Ken
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ejmowrer wrote:
I agree with your bottom line, that the practice is very questionable and is lacking due process. However, I don't want to see any knee-jerk laws drafted that tie the cops hands when they find drivers that happen to have giants wads of cash in their car. If that isn't a good reason to search a car I don't know what is (not that it's illegal in and of itself, just unusual and a red flag).


Giant wads of cash? On the road to casinos? Who would possibly go to a casino with a large wad of money?

C'mon. Having money isn't a sufficient reason to be suspicious.

The rest is a matter for the courts, but at least if due process is enforced, there's a large and substantial paper trail.
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Ken
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Shushnik wrote:
Can we please just have all of them defended? Please?


Did anyone suggest otherwise? I mean, I wouldn't mind revising the 2nd Amendment so that you had to prove you weren't mentally unstable before you tried to purchase an arsenal and made some common sense approaches to gun ownership legal, but while it's on the books as is it needs to be enforced as is.
 
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ejmowrer wrote:
However, I don't want to see any knee-jerk laws drafted that tie the cops hands when they find drivers that happen to have giants wads of cash in their car. If that isn't a good reason to search a car I don't know what is (not that it's illegal in and of itself, just unusual and a red flag).


This line of thinking disturbs me. I'm all in favour of restricting police rights. How does a cop find that you have a "wad" of cash on you without violating quite a lot of your rights to begin with? As I saw quoted in another site's forums: 1% of cops give the other 99% a good name.

Are people not allowed to have money in your country? Or was this just a greedy twist on a DWB - Driving While Black.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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It's not the having money. It's the having $6000 in cash in your car. Sure there is a casino 50 miles down the road, and that should be taken into account but any cop that isn't suspicious about that much cash lying around is a poor excuse for a detective. You guys need to understand the difference between suspicion and assumption. One is evidence that may lead to something bigger, but it may not. The other is prejudgment and I agree it would be wrong. Being suspicious is not wrong. It's very healthy for a cop to be about something like that. The fact of the matter is that drug dealers are known and heavily documented to carry that much money around as a matter of course, making it a suspicious activity.

As usual in RSP, you're getting hung up on the fact that I didn't agree 100% with all of your statements of justice and righteousness. Never mind the fact that I have agreed now several times that what the cops are doing is very suspicious as well, and doesn't seem like a healthy thing for them to be doing. You just can't stand it that there is someone willing to think this through critically, having an open mind, and not automatically assume that the story is 100% accurate and fair to those cops who are rotten to the core based on a single sensational news article. Maybe the article is biased 50/50, maybe 90/10. Maybe it's even 100% correct and those guys should be strung up by their toenails, but maybe, just MAYBE, these guys are only part of the problem. I would just like to hear more evidence before I make up my mind completely. I'm not gonna take the word of a bunch of suspects at face value, nor am I going to take the word of a police force that is embarrassed by this sudden scrutiny, nor am I going to take the word of a reporter who often make their paycheck by creating news, even when there isn't any. Everybody chill out and let a man have his opinion. How about agreeing where this is common ground so we can have an interesting and productive discussion?
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