Forfeiture Reform Sustained in Oregon


Today the Oregon Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ballot initiative, Measure 3, that requires criminal convictions prior to asset forfeiture, limits the assets that can be seized, and diverts the proceeds from law enforcement agencies to other programs (including drug treatment). After Measure 3 passed in 2000, the Lincoln County Interagency Narcotics Team sued to overturn it, arguing that it was unconstitutional because its provisions were not related closely enough. In 2003 the Oregon Court of Appeals agreed, a ruling the state Supreme Court reversed today. For anyone who has been following the debate over asset forfeiture, the connection between Measure 3's provisions is easy to see: They're aimed at discouraging forfeiture abuse, including the seizure of assets from innocent owners, by making it harder and less lucrative for law enforcement to take property allegedly associated with crimes.