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Reason Writers on TV: Radley Balko Discusses Asset Forfeiture With John Stossel

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Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko discusses the government's abuse of asset forfeitrue with John Stossel on April 22, 2010. Also appearing: Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice.

Approximately 7 minutes.

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    1. Okay, it is up now.

      After viewing the video I propose that the H&R commentariats chip in and buy Radley a cape. You sincerely sounded like you wanted one there, Balko.

  1. The SCOTUS effed up mightily in ever allowing asset forfeiture. Take property via eminent domain or through normal due process. Period.

    1. Oh, c’mon, PL. Taking $X thousand dollars from someone by fining them after convicting them of a crime after due process is totally different than taking $X thousand from someone by forfeiting their assets because you can.

      1. I just can’t see the words “asset forfeiture” without hearing the word “tyranny” in my head. And I’m not invoking crazy libertarian hyperbole when I say that.

  2. What I don’t get about the truck forfeiture in the video is that the Hispanic guy is a creditor, right? He leased the truck to the drunk driver? Doesn’t this destroy the auto lending industry in Texas? Who would lend money on a car if their valid and perfected lien could be stripped in an asset forfeiture proceeding?

    1. Well he might not have been a lienholder, but it sounded like he was holding the title as security.

      If he had a perfected lien on the truck, then he would be first in line to get paid after the auction. But if he is the owner, then they can just take it from him and strip him of all equity in the property.

      Of course, the asset forfeiture laws might be written so as to supersede higher priority claims on such property anyways.

      1. Well he might not have been a lienholder, but it sounded like he was holding the title as security

        That’s the way leases and loans work on cars: the operator has “registered title” and the lienholder has “legal title”. The person with registered title has all the responsibility of ownership. When you “get your pink slip” after you pay off the loan, what actually happened is legal title got transferred to you.

        What should happen is that the authority seeking forfeiture gets only what the “offender” owns, registered title. If they don’t pay the lease, the legal owner can repossess it. These bozos are claiming they can seize more than that, that they can seize legal title as well. If they can seize cars on this principle, they can seize heavy equipment too. There goes the equipment leasing business. Instead of a $25k car, how about a $250k Freightliner? Or even worse, your rental house? If the principle is that seizing the lessee’s interest seize’s the lessor’s interest too, there is no bar to that.

        1. even worse, your rental house?

          Or place of business…it just keeps getting worse.

  3. My only problem with asset forfeiture is the lack of sufficient due process of some jurisdictions.

    If the state is required to prove with the preponderance of evidence that property was acquired with the proceeds of criminal activity, I have no problem with asset forfeiture.

    1. Which would be the difference between criminal and civil forfeitures, I believe.

    2. I’ve got a problem with that. If you’re involved with a crime, then the evidence standard for punishing you for that crime is “beyond a reasonable doubt” not “a preponderance of the evidence.”

      Due process should apply in exactly the same way as it does in other situations that don’t enrichenfy the state.

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