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.

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  1. “[O]ne must keep clearly in mind the fact that nothing is more natural than to regard a remedied evil as an accomplished good”

    ~ Albert Jay Nock, ca. 1934, at

  2. That is great news!

  3. “After Measure 3 passed in 2000, the Lincoln County Interagency Narcotics Team sued to overturn it, arguing that it was unconstitutional…”

    plese help. cant move. trapped undr mountain of irony.


    Who on the LCINT can we contact to gloat?

  5. Does the “narcotics team” have any appellate rights left, or is this the end of the line for this bullshit lawsuit? Regardless, it’s a great victory! God a love Oregon.

  6. The text of the opinion is here, if anyone cares.


  7. 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, and it has “let convicted meth dealers keep much of their ill-gotten gains.”

    Bovett said the measure also has effectively eliminated most county drunken driving forfeiture programs.

    It’s always so nice to see the tiger show its stripes. The entire meth scare is nothing but a money grab by police departments, and the upholding of this bill means Oregon cops have to go to the voters to get their lucre instead of stealing it from innocent people (yeah, I know).

    Of course, in the constant battle, the police will come up with a new tactic. It’s only a matter of time.

  8. Government doesn’t have a “right” to anything. Good to remind the various incarnations of government of that fact from time to time.

  9. 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.

    Yes, but rather than having taxpayer’s funding our next salary increase, all we have to do shake down some undesirables for the extra revenue. I see nothing wrong with this. After all, we are the good guys.

  10. Good! Cowiche, I might be wrong, but I think they can still appeal to the US Supreme Court.

  11. wow with this and measure 37 Oregon has done a complete 360 in regards to property rights since the green belt smart growth crowd took a dump on the state in the late 70’s and early 80’s

  12. I think they can still appeal to the US Supreme Court.

    No, the issue was purely a question of state constitutional interpretation so there should be no grounds for appeal to the US Supreme Court.

  13. M, I’m not sure how you think that quote from Nock is relevant. It has nothing to do with the issue presented here. Nock is saying that it isn’t sufficient that we’ve remedied a wrong, but that we have to consider how it was done. In other words, that the ends don’t justify the means.

    Unless you’re arguing that there’s something evil about ballot initiatives, Nock’s quote is simply inapplicable.

  14. What is a ‘respondent on review’? And why would two animal rights/welfare organizations be involved in this lawsuit? Am i reading the opinion correctly that they are, in essence, plaintiffs on the side of the Narc Team?

    I’m sooo confused.

  15. Thanks Brian-I wasn’t sure about that.

  16. The respondent is the “winner” or prevailing party in the lower court decision. The petitioner was the party that lost in the lower court decision.

  17. Now how can I buy all those cool Army-guy toys? The ones that make me feel really butch and makes my tummy feel all tingly?

  18. Hallelujah!!! Here in Michigan, a family lost it’s bowling alley (read livelihood) because a drug defendant allegedly bought some contraband there. No drugs were ever found at the bowling alley. The other evidence that was presented was that the business had large amounts of cash on hand. It does seem to me that bowling alleys are pretty much a cash business. Too bad, you lost your property even though we never even bought charges (couldn’t get a convivtion).

    We can only hope that this starts a national trend.

  19. But if the cops can’t steal from us anymore, who will they steal from?

  20. This is terrible and sends the wrong signal to the youth of Oregon and the country as a whole.

  21. Man, I thought this was great day for freedom in America. Finally, citizens decided that it was an infringement on freedom to allow the state to take private property without cause, and Oregon actually made it law.

    Then Dan T points out the flaw in the whole concept. It never occurred to me that this was terrible; I thought it was good. The message that children received from this exercise in Democracy and freedom did not occur to me either.

    Now I am all confused. Is it a good thing for the police, exercising the essentially infinite power of the state to arbitrariy take the property of citizens never even accused of wrong doing, or is it bad? Should our children learn from their own experience that the government is unrestrained, arbritrary and capricious, or should they learn that government has to have reasonable cause before they act and that private property is a highly valued possession and concept?

    I just don’t know. I am so confused.

  22. I think someone must have been posting under Dan T’s name to make him seem worse than he really is. I mean, Dan T is a stupid jackass and an incorrigible troll, but he’s not that much of a stupid jackass and incorrigible troll.

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