[LFC Comments: Thanks to a Lobbyist Member for this article on Civil Asset Forfeiture. We know that Joe has been vocal about this issue for quite some time. We agree with Joe that due process (fair treatment through the normal judicial system) should not be short circuited by our police officers.]
In light of Antifa chanting “Defund the Police”, I find their request not in the best interests of we Patriots and denounce it. However, I also have reservations of supporting the police in light of the police practicing Civil Asset Forfeiture.
In case you’re not familiar with the term Civil Asset Forfeiture, let me explain. Let’s say that during a traffic stop, the policeman feels that the the driver of the vehicle is too low in his station in life to be driving such an expensive vehicle. So after a few questions, the policeman determines this discrepancy must be due to drug dealing. So the policeman takes, seizes, the vehicle. He does not charge the driver, he does not arrest the driver, he just tells the driver that if he wants his vehicle back, he will have sue the agency, the city or state, whatever, that the Policeman is employed with. Typically, cases like this will be styled after something like, 2020 Cadillac vs City of Parma or if the police took money from the driver then it would styled something like $60,000 vs the City of Cleveland. The hardship placed on the driver is that after he just lost a sizeable amount property or money, he now has to come up with more money to hire a lawyer to handle the case.
Under the Ohio Revised Code (ORC), Section 2981.03 (A)(2), “Except as otherwise provided in division (A)(3) of this section, a law enforcement officer may seize property that the officer has probable cause to believe is property subject to forfeiture”. I do not equate “probable cause” with “due process of law”. I feel that the driver’s property was taken without due process of law: it was taken, seized, on the subjective determination of a policeman. That’s not due process of law! I believe that is a violation of the 4th and 5th amendments as well as a violation of the Oath of Office of the Federal Constitution.
But when the policeman goes to court, I feel that there’s another legal problem: the Clean Hands Doctrine. Let me explain, by way of example, what the Clean Hands Doctrine is. Let’s say that two men decide to rob a bank. They agree between themselves that afterwards they will split the proceeds 50/50. But after the robbery, one robber says that he did more work than the other and he’s going to keep 70% of the proceeds and only give the other, aggrieved robber, 30% of the proceeds. The aggrieved robber decides to take the issue to court. During the court proceedings, the aggrieved robber wants the judge to charge the 70% robber with breech of contract and enforce the original agreement by giving the aggrieved robber his 50 % of the proceeds! at this point the adjudication would be laughable. By rights, the judge hearing this case should/would call the Bailiff and send both robbers to jail.
Now let’s consider our hypothetical Civil Asset Forfeiture case above. In that court case, the policeman would testify that he took the drivers property because he, the policeman, felt that the property was the proceeds of a drug deal. The judge would (should) ask for proof of the drug deal by way of an adjudicated court case. The police man would have to testify that there was no other court case and that he acted on his own volition. Then the judge would confirm once more that the policeman is testifying that he took the drivers property without due process of law. The Officer reply’s would be yes, he only had probable cause, and at that point, I believe that the judge should call the Bailiff and put the Office in jail due to a violation of the Clean Hands Doctrine!!!!!
But that doesn’t happen. The trial continues! How?
In Ohio, Civil Asset Forfeiture is covered under the Ohio Revised Code (ORC). Are Ohio’s Legislatures using the ORC to revise the Constitution? I don’t remember voting for any Constitutional amendment. If so, then I think that the Legislatures should be indicted also! What kind of a mess do we have going on here?
Until this someone resolves the issue of allowing a police Officer to seize property through only “probable cause” and not through “due process of law”, I reserve support of police who practice Civil Asset Forfeiture. The financial greed of the government must take back seat to the “due process” clause in the Constitution..