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Outrage

Via Xrlq and, err, me. While the press is busy giving us wall-to-wall coverage of the Jon Benet Ramsey case, important shit is happening that we should be paying attention to:

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that police may keep the $124,700 they seized from Emiliano Gonzolez, an immigrant who by all appearances was attempting to use the money to start a legitimate business.

This is an outrageous ruling. Consider:

  • Gonzolez was never charged with any crime in relation to the money, much less convicted.
  • Gonzalez had an explanation for the money that a lower court found both “plausible” and “consistent.” He brought several witnesses forward to corroborate his story (in the preposterous land of asset forfeiture, property can be guilty of a crime, and the burden is often person the police seized the property from to prove he obtained it legally).
  • The government offered no evidence to counter Gonzolez’s explanation.
  • Instead, the court ruled that the mere fact that Gonzolez was carrying a large sum of money, that he had difficulty understanding the officer’s questions, that he incorrectly answered some of those questions (due, Gonzolez says, to fears that if police knew he was carrying that much money, they might confiscate it — imagine that!), and that a drug dog alerted to the car Gonzolez was driving (which, as dissenting judge Donald Lay noted, was a rental, likely driven by dozens of people before Gonzolez), was enough to “convict” the money of having drug ties, even if there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Gonzolez.

    Not convicted of a crime. No due process. Just a case of the you might be up to somethings. Walter Olson calls it Driving While Loaded:

    A Nebraska state trooper stopped Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez for speeding on Interstate 80 in 2003 in his rental car, then proceeded to seize $124,000 from a cooler in the back seat. According to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (opinion, PDF), Nebraska was within its rights to seize the $124,000 as presumed drug money (it then became the subject of a federal forfeiture action) even though 1) Gonzolez had no substantial or drug-related criminal record; 2) witnesses backed up his claim that the money had been pooled by several immigrants for purposes of buying a refrigerated truck for his produce business.

    Note to the press: this is the kind of gestapo shit that should be on the front page.

    14 Responses to “Outrage”

    1. Ron W Says:

      This is a perfect example of how the CFR managed information and opinion corportations keep the masses occupied with drivel while they work their tyrannical agenda.

    2. Sebastian Says:

      This is sadly the kind of shit no one cares about until it happens to them.

    3. Mark Says:

      This is sadly the kind of shit no one cares about until it happens to them.

      Not to make light of the situation, but this thing would not happen to most people because we have these things called banks to deposit our money!

    4. Ozarks Nick Says:

      Mark, there are some folks … me, for instance … who do not like banks and tend to keep cash on our persons or nearby.

      But I think it’s that same attitude that got the fellow in trouble in the first place. “If he didn’t plan something illegal with that money, it’d be in a bank.”

    5. Ron W Says:

      So how much cash can you carry before there is no assumption of guilt–or should I say, how little cash does the government require that you carry before they can confiscate it on just the assumption that you’re gonna do something illegal with it??

    6. Robert Says:

      I had a cop swipe two twenties out of the ashtray in my old Landcruiser a few years ago. I was parked at the back bumper because I had a CCL. He had my gun and was unloading it when he stole the cash.

      Gosh, it’s just like a WAR or something on the civilians!

    7. markm Says:

      Ron: I’ve heard $100 cited as the amount that presumptively made it drug money. And $100 doesn’t go far nowadays. I have a relative that often pays me his $100 a week rent in cash – and I’d charge a non-relative more than twice as much.

    8. Standard Mischief Says:

      This is all you need to know, the court case is this:

      United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency“.

      I think the idea is that people have civil rights like say, the fifth amendment, (usually). So do those corporate personhood thingys.

      However, the legal theory is that if you file a lawsuit directed at the money, you can skip all the trivial stuff such as innocent until proven guilty, because the money has no rights.

      TheAgitator:

      The government offered no evidence to counter Gonzolez’s explanation.

      Back in fifth grade judge school, I think they actually cover the fact that if there isn’t any “due process” there can’t be any depriving of life, liberty, or property. I mean it’s right there, in plain English, in the Bill of Rights. The executive branch must prove guilt before it can take stuff.

      Any judge who lets this type of standard mischief into the courtroom needs to be at the very least, impeached and removed from office.

    9. chris Says:

      This is awful.

      Since when do you need an alibi for having money?

      How did the 8th Circuit uphold such nonsense?

    10. AughtSix Says:

      The 8th Circuit didn’t uphold the nonsense, they created it. The district court had ruled in favor of Gonzolez.

    11. Standard Mischief Says:

      Anyone want to extend odds that our new, improved supremes will pick
      this one up and drive a stake in the heart of asset forfeiture without
      due process
      , once and for all?

    12. chris Says:

      Forget debates about NSA international wiretapping, McCain-Feingold, no-knock entries, etc.

      This absolutely dwarfs any other arguable Constitutional infractions.

      This is just not what America needs to be. This is fascist.

    13. Xrlq Says:

      SM, don’t hold your breath. The Supremes may well end up reversing this idiotic ruling, if the Eighth Circuit doesn’t do so itself en banc, but if they do it will mostly likely be on a technicality. They could, for example, vacate the ruling on the grounds that the appellate decision had the effect of reversing the district court’s factual determination without establishing that the lower court’s ruling was “clearly erroneous,” a very high standard of proof the appellate judges didn’t even pretend to meet. That would help Gonzalez himself, but it wouldn’t do anything about the general policy of asset forfeitures. Only Congress can fix that.

    14. Justin Buist»Blog Archive » Driving While Loaded Says:

      […] SayUncle is outraged, and I can’t blame him. Instead, the court ruled that the mere fact that Gonzolez was carrying a large sum of money, that he had difficulty understanding the officer’s questions, that he incorrectly answered some of those questions (due, Gonzolez says, to fears that if police knew he was carrying that much money, they might confiscate it — imagine that!), and that a drug dog alerted to the car Gonzolez was driving (which, as dissenting judge Donald Lay noted, was a rental, likely driven by dozens of people before Gonzolez), was enough to “convict” the money of having drug ties, even if there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Gonzolez. […]