Civil Asset Forfeiture

Indiana Attorney General on Asset Forfeiture Abuse: Not My Problem


In my Monday column on how prosecutors and police in Indiana get around the state's requirement that all asset forfeiture proceeds go to a fund for the state's public schools, I noted that Indianapolis attorney and college instructor Paul Ogden found that over the last two years, just five of the state's 92 counties had paid any money into the fund at all. The Indianapolis Star found the same thing in a report this weekend.

So not only are some Indiana counties contracting forfeiture cases to private attorneys on a contingency basis—which forfeiture experts I consulted say is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Due Process clause—more than 90 percent of the state's counties are ignoring the schools fund requirement altogether.

So what does the attorney general have to say? When I contacted the office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller for my February article on forfeiture, I received no response. But Ogden notes that Zoeller's office office did issue this dismissive, almost sarcastic response to an inquiry from Joel Schumm, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.

"The 92 county prosecutors are the attorney general's clients, and we provide them legal advice upon request. We do not serve as the accountant for other units of government."

Ogden responds:

Excuse me? Where in the law does it say that the AG has to be invited to offer legal advice to public officials? Further, is the Department of Education not a client of the Attorney General? Is the Treasurer's Office, which is responsible for the Common School Fund, also not a client of the AG? And what about the Indiana General Assembly? Does our legislature not have a right to trust that the AG is going to insist that public officials follow the laws it passes?

Contrary to the claim of the spokesperson, the Indiana Attorney General does not have a responsibility to aid county prosecutors in the violation of the civil forfeiture law, a violation that is reslulting in the diversion of millions of dollars in forfeiture funds away from Hoosier children and to their own coffers.

I wonder what Zoeller would do if a local prosecutor decided to stop enforcing the state's drug laws?

The attorney general is also the state's highest-ranking law enforcement official. He's required to enforce the law even when the people who are violating it happen to be other prosecutors, even when the violations of the law are widespread, even if the violations aren't necessarily for personal gain, and even if this is just the way it's always been done.

It would be one thing for Zoeller's office to say it has a different interpretation of the law—perhaps explaining why Zoeller believes the various ways around the schools fund requirement are legally permissible. But the statement above nearly mocks concerns about how forfeiture proceeds are being used, and dismisses the diversion of millions of dollars in forfeiture proceeds as something akin to a bookkeeping decision. It's pretty arrogant, even for a politician.

NEXT: The New Orleans School Voucher Program

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  1. Mr. Zoeller seems to be a bit fuzzy on his duties. No, I have no self-respect.

    1. Mr. Zoeller seems to be a bit fuzzy on his duties.

      He’s doing quite well, pretty impressive. That little boy is driving well and he’s putting well. He’s doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it.

  2. Tulpa, you are so very strange…jeezus man.

    You need to find a more constructive use of your free summers.

  3. Thanks for posting this, I haven’t seen anything in the local papers here. I would love to see this story gain traction, if only as a counter to those who complain about all the budget cuts that are forcing students to sit in one-room school houses with dirt floors and no books or heat.

  4. What the fuck is wrong with you?

    1. I’m picking up the slack for SugarFree.

      1. No pictures. Words are fine. Links are fine. But no pictures.

      2. I like the animated GIFs better, anyway. The big pictures block other comments, and they’ll definitely get you in trouble with the powers that be.

        1. They’re going to block all of them soon enough. Might as well have fun while we can.

  5. State AGs are just scum. There isn’t one of them that isn’t scum.

    1. That’s not totally true. I live in California and we’ve g…..


    2. Bill McCollum isn’t scum, and I think you should apologize to the scum of the earth for associating Bill McCollum with scum.

      1. He’s scum to scum. Kind of like Crist. What happened to us, anyway? We had a decent government back during the Jeb Bush era.

    3. The Democrats running in FL were both trying to outdo each other on the “pill mill” bashing. This in the state that imprisoned Richard Peay (sp?).

      I didn’t see it so much with the Republicans, but I think that’s because it’s assumed.

  6. Of course he can’t make a comment until he can be sure his staff have washed their dirty little hands here by distancing themselves as much as possible from the trial lawyers that are getting all of these cases from the local da’s (that have also been the largest contributors to his campaign).

    Pay no attention to my left hand (as it enters your pocket). Look at this shiny quarter in my right.

  7. The 92 county prosecutors are the attorney general’s clients, and we provide them legal advice upon request.


    1. And if they break the law and don’t tell us about it, then hey they mean well don’t they.

  8. “”It’s pretty arrogant, even for a politician.””

    But not for an AG.

  9. The 92 county prosecutors are the attorney general’s clients, and we provide them legal advice upon request.

    So, until a county DA calls, the AG’s office just sits around staring at the wall?

    1. ….and sometimes their hands get to roamin’…..haw haw haw.

  10. Look at that sweet little baby juggalo!

    Ootchy cootchy coo!

  11. So, until a county DA calls, the AG’s office just sits around staring at the wall?

    Well yeah.

    And teh pr0n.

    1. Sometimes you have to take your talents to South Beach.

      1. Yes, that is the decision which sometimes must be made.

  12. Well, I guess you are giving the squirrels something to work on.

  13. of course it’s not his problem – it’s not his stuff getting jacked.

  14. You can quit jerking off now.

    1. I man really. Weren’t you the self-inflated cunt that was advocating Tulpa’s Laws a week or two ago?

  15. When an attorney assists his client in breaking the law, it’s grounds for disbarment.

    Food for thought.

    1. Uhhh…isn’t that criminal conspiricy. Racketeering perhaps?

  16. Indiana’s governor is Mitch Daniels, who is getting himself mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate. He has positioned himself as fiscally responsible, “government shouldn’t try to do too much”, sort of on the libertarian side of the Party. It would certainly earn him some credibility if he’d put pressure on the AG to ENFORCE THIS LAW.

  17. This sounds like a no-lose deal for him, politically.

    He gets to be all “enforce the law.”

    He gets to yank the AG’s chain, which since most AGs fill their days with trying to undercut their governors so they can take their jobs, has got to be a plus.

    And, he’s just trying to raise money for the chilluns.

    So, I’m sure he’ll do nothing.

    1. As long as Reason is going to promote him, they might as well ask him some tough questions, though.

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  19. You do not have a valid complaint. We government employees are not concerned about this. We, by law, are exempt from these “moral” issues.


  20. I wanna be a lawyer when i am a little little girl. i guess this is a serious and holy work till now

  21. The attorney general is also the state’s highest-ranking law enforcement official.

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