239* Gov't Auto Theft Ring Condoned By Court
- Oct 20, 2000J.A.I.L. News Journal
October 20, 2000
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Government Auto Theft Ring Condoned By CourtCalifornia's state Supreme Court has declined to review a ruling allowing police in Oakland to seize vehicles simply suspected of use in criminal activity, even if their owners haven't so much as been charged with a crime. (10/19/00).
http://www.jsonline.com/news/nat/ap/oct00/ap-brf-vehicle-sei101900.aspCalif. Vehicle Seizure Law Stands
Last Updated: Oct. 19, 2000 at 6:05:09 a.m.
SAN FRANCISCO - The state Supreme Court has declined to review a ruling allowing police to seize vehicles suspected of use in crimes such as drug dealing or soliciting a prostitute.
Without comment, a majority of justices Wednesday decided not to hear the American Civil Liberties Union's challenge to Oakland's 1997 vehicle seizure law.
Under the law, a car can be confiscated even if the crime suspect using the vehicle is acquitted, or the car's owner was unaware of the crime. The measure exceeds state and federal standards.
The ACLU argued that cities looking to profit from seizures would enact similar measures.
So far, Sacramento has put a comparable law on its books but San Francisco lawmakers shelved the idea last month, concluding it was unconstitutional.
Since passing the ``nuisance abatement'' act, Oakland has collected, sold and kept the profits from 300 cars.
....-------- Original Message --------
Subject: FEAR: California Supreme Ct. denied hearing in Oakland
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 20:20:44 -0700
From: Brenda Grantland <bgrantland@...>Yesterday the California Supreme Court denied review on Horton v. City of Oakland, the ACLU's challenge to the constitutionality of the
Oakland forfeiture ordinance on pre-emption grounds (in which they
argued the state forfeiture statute pre-empts localities from setting up
their own forfeiture schemes.)
This is a sad blow for California, and sets a bad example for the rest
of the country and the world. We'll now have to defeat the attempts to
establish new forfeiture fiefdoms at the local level by lobbying in each
city. By lobbying against it, FEAR and our allies recently defeated a
proposed San Francisco forfeiture ordinance, which would have allowed whoppingly disproportionate forfeitures for minor drug possession infractions and soliciting prostitution offenses, which was modeled after the Oakland ordinance.
After yesterday's ruling, I'm afraid these schemes will start popping up
everywhere there's a politician seeking a quick fix scheme to make him
seem "tough on crime" so as to guarantee a certain block of votes from
the "law 'n order" folks. New York mayor Guiliani's car forfeiture
policy, which forfeited cars for drunk driving, even if the drunk driver
was not the owner of the car, is just one example. These ordinances are
very dangerous. If they are allowed to proliferate, they will create
forfeiture traps (where police set up sting operations in order to seize
vehicles -- a result which is guaranteed from the enactment of these
laws, since the police get to keep the proceeds) all over the
countryside, nationwide, with legal standards and justifications for
seizure varying drastically from community to community. Because these local forfeiture ordinances are set by city or county government, they will create a patchwork of laws that the average citizen could not
reasonably keep track of, since the triggering offense will vary with
the priorities of the local community.
Story sent by Lori (JAIL Advocate - N.Y.)
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