A New Jersey judge threw
out the state's asset forfeiture law on December 11, ruling that it created
an unconstitutional bias in law enforcement. Under the law, New Jersey
police and prosecutors were entitled to keep cash and assets seized from
alleged criminals -- a practice widely criticized as bounty hunting.
The ruling came in the case
of State of New Jersey vs. One 1990 Ford Thunderbird, a car belonging to
a deputy sheriff but seized by police after the deputy's 17-year-old son
was arrested on a marijuana charge.
Police moved to seize the
vehicle even though no drugs were found in it and it wasn't actually used
in drug deals. The deputy, Carol Thomas, successfully sued for the car's
return, then sued again to challenge the constitutionality of the state's
asset forfeiture laws.
"The decision will ensure
that police and prosecutors make decisions on the basis of justice, not
on the potential for profit," attorney Scott Bullock of the DC-based Institute
for Justice, who represented Thomas, told the Associated Press.
The judge found that the
New Jersey statute gave law enforcement agencies a financial interest in
pursuing certain investigations, a practice not free of "the taint of impermissible
bias in law enforcement." New Jersey law enforcement agencies were the
beneficiaries of nearly $32 million in asset forfeiture revenues from 1998
to 2000. Attorneys for the state said they plan to appeal.
-- END --
Issue #268, 12/20/02
Special Offer Continues -- DRCNet Needs Your Help! | Editorial: Expanding the Chorus | 108 Euro-Parliamentarians Call for Legal, Regulated Drug Trade, Reform of UN Conventions | Congressional Drug Warrior Having Doubts: Dan Burton's Near Epiphany | Michigan Legislature Repeals Mandatory Minimum Drug Laws | Canadian Marijuana Activists Skeptical on Decrim | Canadian Supreme Court Postpones Marijuana Cases, Cites Parliament Report, Justice Minister Statement on Decrim | DRCNet Book Review: "Busted: Stone Cowboys, Narco-Lords, and Washington's War on Drugs" | And the Winners Are | Federal Judge Shows Keen Interest in Raich/Monson Medical Marijuana Case | Bolivia Coca Growers Announce Blockades for January 6 -- Will Continue Dialogue | DC Measure 62 Clears Hurdle, Goes to Congress 268/jeffjones Newsbrief: Oakland Cannabis Co-op Director Founded Guilty on Federal Jury Tampering Charges, Handed Out Flyer at Epis Trial | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: Stop the Presses! Poor, Blacks Face Brunt of Houston Drug War | Newsbrief: Texas ACLU Report Slams Task Forces, Calls for End to $200 Million Annual Boondoogle | Newsbrief: MPP Continues "War on Drug Czar" -- More Complaints to be Filed, O'Reilly Appearance Tonight | Newsbrief: Budget Cuts Free Kentucky Drug Prisoners -- Oklahoma Next? | Newsbrief: Nickelodeon Censors Beverly Hillbillies Marijuana References | Newsbrief: Asset Forfeiture Unconstitutional in New Jersey | Media Scan: Joycelyn Elders in Globe and Mail, George McMahon in Fort Worth Weekly, Jeff and Tracy, Santa Fe New Mexican, Medscape | DC Job Opportunities at DRCNet | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar
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