The Institute for Justice Takes Aim at Georgia Forfeiture Abuses


Everyone's favorite firm of merry libertarian lawyers is suing Georgia police agencies over their abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws. From the press release:

Georgia has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws and practices in the country, but a lawsuit filed today by the Institute for Justice (IJ) and five concerned Georgia citizens seeks to change that…

In an attempt to ensure civil forfeiture is subject to public scrutiny, Georgia law requires local law enforcement agencies to anndually itemize and report all property obtained through forfeiture, and how it is used, to local governing authorities.

But many, perhaps most, local Georgia law enforcement agencies fail to issue these forfeiture reports, thus turning forfeiture proceeds into off-budget slush funds shielded from public view.  A new report, Forfeiting Accountability: Georgia's Hidden Civil Forfeiture Funds, finds that among a random sample of 20 law enforcement agencies, only two were reporting as required.  Of 15 major agencies in Georgia population centers, only one produced the required report.  Yet federal data show Georgia agencies taking in millions through forfeiture.  Examples of abuse with these funds include a Georgia sheriff spending $90,000 in forfeiture funds to purchase a Dodge Viper, and the Fulton County DA office using forfeiture funds to purchase football tickets. 

Short, animated, superhero-themed video on the case below. My January 2010 Reason feature on forfeiture here.