ACLU on the Side of the Good
State Supreme Court in Dem state does the right thing.
In other news, Satan was spotted at a Big 5 in Anchorage, AK, purchasing ice skates.
Court upholds Oregon law restricting forfeitures
SALEM, Ore. (AP) � The Oregon Supreme Court upheld a voter-passed law Thursday that requires a criminal conviction before police can seize and sell property tied to illegal activity.
Before the measure passed, police were able to use civil courts to seek forfeiture of money and property believed to have been obtained in criminal activity, such as drug buys, or purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity.
So, now the police have to actually convict someone in criminal court before they can go about seizing their property. This is good news, at least for Oregonians. And I'll give due credit to the ACLU.
David Fidanque of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon called Thursday's ruling "great news" and a big step toward protecting people from unjustified seizures of their property. "This ensures that as we try to take the profit out of crime that we only seize property from criminals," Fidanque said. "Prior to Measure 3, the complete burden was on the property owner to prove their innocence."
Of course, those who benefitted from the previous arrangement aren't happy:
But a law enforcement official, Rob Bovett, lawyer for the Lincoln Interagency Narcotics Team, called the ruling a disappointment and said Measure 3 has hurt the fight against Oregon's methamphetamine problem.
Measure 3 "has helped to dismantle or cripple many Oregon drug task forces at the most critical time in our meth epidemic," he said.
The problem with the old law, and to the best of my knowledge, federal forfeiture statutes, is that law enforcement agencies could seize and sell a person's stuff without actually having to get that person convicted of a crime. And because those agencies got to keep to proceeds of the sale(s), they had plenty of incentives to take actions required to seize and sell people's property, but no corrensponding incentive to actually do the work required to actually convict those people. The fact that these agencies, at least in Oregon, are finding themselves in a budget pinch due to the new law would seem to confirm that this was indeed happening. Relatedly, it would seem that municipal governments were being derelict in their duty to ensure public safety by making so much of the law enforcement budgets contingent on proceeds from seizures.
This ruling should help correct the problem by forcing law enforcement to ensure that only people who are actually guilty suffer loss of their property. Now what we need is for other states and the Congress to enact similar reforms.
Things That Rock
Live streaming NHL telecasts from Yahoo! (Note: only seems to be available when the games are live.) For those of us hockey fans located out of area from our favorite teams, this is awesome.
Quote of the game from tonight's San Jose vs Dallas game, after a(nother) spectacular save by Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabakov: "I doubt you could get a fistful of rice past him with a 16 gauge shotgun!"
Army Times article on the SCAR.
Summary: Limited firing, but the author liked it. Marines are said to be looking at it as a possible replacement for the M16/M4. Big Army isn't. Big Army's priority is a replacement for the M249 SAW.
Specs (in .pdf)