Last update 12/8/03 (by Leon Felkins)
This website section is where we've gathered essays, letters to the editor, editorials, and other "public opinions" written by John Q. Public about their take on the U.S. asset forfeiture laws. Please send the FEAR webmaster the URL's of any well-written editorials or essays about forfeiture you find surfing the internet, as well as your own original writings that are suitable for publication here.
We apologize for the links that may no longer function. Several of the reports are getting aged with respect to "internet time" but, nevertheless, still have some value in helping to understand forfeiture as well as provide a little history. As time permits, we will try to correct the defective links that are important.
One further note: the Forfeiture Reform Bill of 2000, CAFRA, significantly revised the forfeiture law that many of these reports are describing or responding to. You are cautioned to check current law before you make any decisions based on these references. Again, we feel that even if the law is not exactly correct in some cases, the historical value of these editorials and essays make it worthwhile to keep them online.
The book, Driving While Black: Coverup by Kelvin R. Davis, Interstate International Publishing of Cincinnati, generally discusses the issue of police profiling. Of interest to us is the chapter on forfeiture which, fortunately, is online! Here Davis gives some insight on the disgraceful problem of the "authorities" relieving inner-city residents of any money they happen to have on them and sometimes other property based on the theory that if they have money they must be guilty of something. Unfortunately, the seized property often gets lost before it ever makes it to the police station. The good side is that the victims are generally told something like, "get the hell out of here or I will haul your ass down to the station" and most elect to boogie.
Police with integrity: Although their numbers are small, it is nice to know that some individuals associated with law enforcement see the evil of drug prohibition and are willing to speak out against it. Go to the site, "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)" to learn more about this small but growing group. The site provides links to other resources, articles, and related news.
There are many forms of "takings" activity by the government. One that has been growing in use in recent years is the "Eminent Domain" scam in which private property if forcibly taken by the government and then turned over to other private individuals or organizations, all in the name of "the public good". Many of the "property reforms" advocated by Hitler, have now become the law of the land in the United States.
Mark Ferran has written several good articles on the issue of the defense of land ownership against the state. An example is "PUBLIC COMPLAINT: NY Troopers Inciting Defiant Trespass" that includes many references to background material. (5/1/03)
Several organizations have started to appear on the web that address this abuse. One is the "Property Rights Research" which contains a major list of resources on this subject as well as articles and a forum. Please give it a look and become familiar with this growing threat to individual liberty.
The "Castle Coalition" is another organization fighting this evil. I quote from their site: "The Castle Coalition is an effort by activists to take matters into their own hands. It was inspired by watching several communities defeat seemingly unstoppable projects to take homes and businesses to give to other private parties."
Then, of course, there is the famous "Institute for Justice", a well managed activist organization that has actually been quite successful in fighting the scourge of government land stealing. Their web site is an encouragement to all of us for it shows that an evil "Big Brother" can be fought and stopped when you have the skills and fortitude to do so.
There is a also an email list that you might want to look into. It is called "People Against Land Stealing" (PALS) and can be subscribed to by sending an email to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Animal Enterprise Terrorism, by Karen Snider, is a good introduction to the latest addition to the police state's gestapo agencies: the "Animal Control" organizations. While they claim to be looking after the welfare of innocent and helpless animals, their real purpose seems to be control and abuse of citizens.
A "takings" newsletter is available at Community Rights Counsel. Their archive goes back to May 2001.
The Malet Street Gazette, Vol. 2, Issue 2 October 2001, has another review article on CAFRA that is worth taking a look at. The article is "Does the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 Bring a Modicum of Sanity to the Federal Civil Forfeiture System?", by Peter Joseph Loughlin, JD. Well written and includes a good list of citations.
Eric Blumenson once again contributes to the FEAR web site by allowing us to put his essay, "Justice Kennedy should recuse himself", originally published at Salon.com, online for all to see. This essay points out one of the reasons getting relief from state abuse at the Supreme Court is somewhat unlikely -- the lack of Justice Kennedy's impartiality. Of course, there are other reasons.
A nice summary of the federal forfeiture situation after CAFRA by By Peter Joseph Loughlin, J.D. - "Does the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 Bring a Modicum of Sanity to the Federal Civil Forfeiture System?" . Discusses the act, the history of forfeiture and the history of the passage of the act. (May, 2001)
Summary of the Money Laundering and Forfeiture Provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, by Stefan D. Cassella, Deputy Chief, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, U.S. Department of Justice (PDF file)
A DEA agent, Special Agent Richard Shields, expresses his opinion of the impact of CAFRA in "Perspectives on CAFRA". (2001)
Reining in Forfeiture: Common Sense Reform in the War on Drugs: In 1999, almost $1 billion worth of cash, cars, boats, real estate, and other property was forfeited to the U.S. government--most of it labeled as drug-related. While much of this property was taken from bona fide criminals, critics of the nation's asset forfeiture laws say that many innocent people have been hurt. This report examines what's gone wrong and why a rollback in state forefeiture laws is underway in many parts of the country.
The article, "Defenders Argue Asset Seizure Bill Is Too Mild", by David Rovella, relates how E.E. "Bo" Edwards III and others feel about the usefulness of the new forfeiture reform law, CAFRA. Published in the National Law Journal, April 17, 2000.
Ralph Maddox gives the view of U.S. forfeiture from Canada, in his article "WHAT'S YOURS IS MINE...", published 18 March 2000, at the Le Quebecois Libre site.
"375 profiles in courage?" is a nice commentary on the legislative process involved in passing CAFRA. The article also contains a review of what forfeiture is really all about. (July 4, 1999)
Alan J. Prejean, from the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has published an essay entitled, "ETHICS AND SELF-FUNDING POLICE BUDGETS: THE LOUISIANA DRUG ASSET FORFEITURE LAW", that provides a balanced view of the forfeiture situation, even though he is an employee of Louisiana. Worth the read. Published July, 1999.
Rudy's Car Collection: Mayor Giuliani seizes the cars of accused drunk drivers, by Jacob Sullum, Creators Syndicate, March 3, 1999.
Here is an article that Leon was asked to write for the highly respected online magazine, The Progress Report, sponsored by the Banneker Center for Economic Justice: "Property and Liberty: You can't give up one without losing the other", written January 2, 1999.
Seizure Slowed: The New Jersey Supreme Court rules on asset forfeiture, by Jeff Taylor, Reason Express, July 20, 1998 (Also see I'll Take That.)
Seizure Disorder, by Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine July 1, 1998
Donald J. Kochan challenges the government's intellectually deficient concept that property commits crimes, and therefore ought to be jailed, in his article, "Property Doesn’t Commit Crimes, People Do", dated May 4, 1998
"Uncivil Forfeiture" by Darryl Fruchter, April 17, 1998. Concludes that "Our government has become the criminal element."
Sunshine Reforms: Efforts to reform civil forfeiture law in Florida, by Brian Doherty, Reason, March 1998.
This paper comes from an "Administration of Justice Seminar", sponsored by TROY STATE UNIVERSITY's "Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Satellite, Glynco, Georgia", sometime in 1998; "A RESEARCH PROPOSAL REGARDING THE EFFECTS OF POLICY DEVELOPMENT ON ASSET FORFEITURE: PROGRAMS AND PARTICIPATING AGENCIES", editors, Diane T. Gallagher and Cheryl D. Hoskins. Discusses the impact of asset forfeiture revenue on budgets and the incentive to go for the more lucrative forfeiture actions.
Even though the government may be seizing nearly $2 billion dollars worth of property per year, don't expect that to, in the slightest, reduce your tax bill. Leon explains why in his essay, "The Feds Even Bungle Asset Forfeiture -- Yet Another Financial Fiasco!", written January 31, 1998.
"Does Civil Forfeiture Constitute Double Jeopardy?" by Marc L. Cadin, published in Volume 34 Number 1 Spring 1997 of the American Judges Association's Court Review, is reproduced here by permission.
Dog Days for Forfeiture: Everyone's cash is drug money, by Brian Doherty, Reason, February 1995.
Here is a sampling of essays on forfeiture originally published by Leon
Felkins at the online ezine called
[Pissedoff.com is no longer online. However copies of the articles are now resident at FEAR, which hopefully will stay on the air! Unfortunately, many of the links in these articles (mostly those added by the editor, which are not significant) are no longer functional.]
Tourist Alert: Louisiana Revenuers -- Part 1. Part 2. Appendix. (How the State of Louisiana thought they could hijack travelers on Interstate 10, but it then occurred to them that it might hurt tourism). - 12/3/97
Uncle Sam Is Hooked on Forfeiture and Seizure and Just Can't Stop It (How the Congress is still trying to pass more laws invoking Forfeiture and Seizure while giving lip service to the idea that it ought to be curtailed.) - 1/8/98
Forfeit Your Profits Or Else! - 2/2/98
Police Take Drivers License on the Spot for DUI" - 2/12/98
House Arrest: The Government's War on Things - 3-18-98
A Blindfolded Justice Gropes for Purpose - 4/1/98
The Government Bungles Management of Seized Casino " - 4/8/98
In the Community of Nations, the US has become the Mafia Don,Making offers "You Can't Refuse" - 4/21/98
Know Your Customer - 12/22/98
Why No One Wins When the Government Can Freely Loot Private Property - 1999
A Cop's View on "Drug Courier Profiling" (Whoops – I meant "Drug Courier Indicators") - May, 2001
Sarah Thompson, M.D., has published her excellent essay "Justice Through the Looking Glass: Asset Forfeiture" on the internet. Dr. Thompson is the author of "The Righter" column.
An excellent essay that discusses the evolution of forfeiture from the 1970 Drug acts to the Ursery decision by Sean M. Dunn, "United States v. Ursery: Drug Offenders Forfeit Their Fifth Amendment Rights", is online at the American University. This essay concludes that "Ursery" was not a judicial decision, but a political decision.
Cecil Greek's excellent account of the history of modern forfeiture, "DRUG CONTROL AND ASSET SEIZURES: A REVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF FORFEITURE IN ENGLAND AND COLONIAL AMERICA", is online at the University of South Florida.
"Trampling on the Sixth Amendment: The Continued Threat of Attorney Fee Forfeiture", by TODD BARNET, J.D., and IVAN FOX, LL.M, is a comment on the further abuse of the Constitution by our own government.
Fulton Huxtable has a great site that features his on-line book, Fatal Blindness, an in-depth analysis of the present sorry mess we are in with our government. His latest chapter, "STATISM'S DREAM PROBLEM", discusses the failed Drug War and provides considerable insight into the business of Asset Forfeiture. The site is highly recommended.
The well known author, James Bovard, comments on legalized theft in his essay, "Seizure Fever: The War on Property Rights", at the The Libertarian Library.
Kessler's essays on Forfeiture, Double Jeopardy, and various other shenanigans of our Court system. Attorney Stevan L. Kessler has made available, on line, several of his essays, including "When Punishing Isn't Punishment", "New York adopts test for excessiveness in forfeiture cases", "Injustice for All: Bennis vs. Michigan", "Forfeiture Reform and United States v. Bajakajian", and "Turnover Orders in Civil Forfeiture Cases". His site also describes some of his books for the serious student of government asset forfeiture.
A short introductory essay on asset forfeiture, "Step Away From Your House, Ma'am!!! Civil Asset Forfeiture Gone Gestapo?", by Charles Miller is available at the Common Conservative. More of Charles' writings are available here, including the online book, U.S. vs. Grandma.
"High court invites one-two punch of fines, criminal charges", by Vin Suprynowicz, The Libertarian, December 14, 1997 (commentary on two Supreme Court cases, a bad decision on double jeopardy and civil penalties (Hudson), another holding prosecutors are not immune from liability when they lie)
"U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Forfeiture Case Law: (At issue is $357,144 seized from L.A. resident at airport. The Justice Department will argue that it can keep the cash even if the man obtained it legally"), By DAVID G. SAVAGE, TIMES STAFF WRITER, Los Angeles Times, Tuesday November 4, 1997 (No URL for this but it was found using The Electric Library, an economical document retrieval service).
"A Botched Reform", Orange County Register Editorial, October 27, 1997 (urges opposition to HR 1965 and refers readers to F.E.A.R. website for more information.)
"Department of Justice Thwarts Forfeiture Reform - Seeks Broader Powers to Steal" , by unknown, dated 8/15/97, The Winds (How the DOJ controls congress, explanation of Animism, Burden of Proof on Accused,and how the government concentrates on small seizures)
"The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act 1997" Statement of Roger Pilon, Ph.D., J.D., Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute, Washington, D.C. 6/11/97) (CATO pleads before Congress for some sanity.)
"The New "Criminal" Classes: Legal Sanctions and Business Managers ", by JAMES V. DeLONG, at National Legal Center for the Public Interest (NLCPI), June 1997 (New Criminalization of the working class)
"Predatory Public Finance and the Origins of the War on Drugs, 1984-1989", Bruce L. Benson and David W. Rasmussen, 09/96, The Independent Review. (Using Sin Taxes, Forfeitures, and Seizures to finance government operations)
"Backsliding Court Places Government Goals Above Bill of Rights", by Vin Suprynowicz, The Libertarian, June 30, 1996 (discusses Supreme Court's ruling that civil forfeiture is not punishment for double jeopardy purposes.)
"Adventures in law enforcement," by Vin Suprynowicz, The Libertarian, April 10, 1996 (police thievery from property seized for forfeiture)
"Libertarians Are The Only Ones Who Would Listen," by Vin Suprynowicz, The Libertarian, April 10, 1996 (about forfeiture victim Sam Zhadanov)
"High Court Rules Police Can Seize Anything", by Vin Suprynowicz, The Libertarian, March 6, 1996 (discusses Supreme Court case Bennis v. Michigan)
"Asset Forfeiture", by Susan Meeker-Lowry, January 1996, Z-Magazine (Discusses legal basis, arresting inanimate objects, history and abuses by law enforcement.)
"Forfeiture (Generally)", by unknown, date unknown. (Large list of actual cases. Very interesting! Example: United States v. Miscellaneous Jewelry, 667 F.Supp. 232 (D.Md. 1987): The Government sought to forfeit jewelry from a criminal defendant. During the course of the forfeiture proceeding, the defendant died. Though a criminal prosecution obviously abates upon the death of the defendant, the Court holds that a civil forfeiture action does not abate and because it is an in rem action, the Government may proceed against the estate.)
The Government's Legal Theft Racket, 12/21/95, by Michael Fumento ("Think you've had a hard week? Consider what happened to Mrs. Tina Bennis back in October of 1988...")
U.S. v. One Assortment of Firearms, by Steffan Herpel, Reason Magazine May 1990.