Saturday, October 22, 2016

WSJ Features Left-Right Victory, Led by Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Torrance)

The Wall Street Journal featured California Republican Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Torrance).

No one can make this stuff up.

For a Republican in California, who inhabits the minority party barely bouncing back from a record number of failures at the state and local level, to get featured in an internationally respected newspaper like The Wall Street Journal is a true accomplishment!

A rare coalition comes together to limit civil forfeiture.

Americans on the right and left don’t agree on much these days, but they can unite in reining in government abuse of civil forfeiture. An example is California’s new law that closes a loophole that allowed police to seize property without adequate due process.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a bill to require a criminal conviction before forfeiture proceeds can be sent to state law enforcement. Since 1994, California law has required a criminal conviction for forfeitures under $25,000. That’s better than many other states, but local police began to use federal law as a way to dodge the state restrictions. California police would file state charges against a target, but then outsource the forfeiture to the federal government.

This ducked the state criminal conviction requirement and increased the cash haul from forfeiture. The feds have a process known as “equitable sharing” that divides forfeiture proceeds with local police. California cops were getting about 80% of federal forfeiture proceeds, compared with 66.25% if they kept the actions local.

Can you imagine the forum shopping that has been sweeping throughout the United States, specifically in California?

David Hadley defending SB 443
Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

This is unconscionably. The Fourth Amendment has to mean something!

According to the Institute for Justice, whose reports on “policing for profit” galvanized political reaction against forfeiture abuse, from 2000 to 2013 the Justice Department kicked back some $696 million in forfeiture money to state and local law enforcement. The new California law closes the federal loophole and will protect those who can’t afford to fight unjust forfeiture. The new law also raises the threshold for forfeiture to $40,000 from $25,000. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, 94% of California forfeitures in 1992 were $5,000 or less, and it had barely increased in real dollars by 2013.

I had not learned about the closure of the federal loophole before. So glad that that has been removed.

The reform was the product of a rare left-right coalition led by Democratic state senator Holly Mitchell and Republican assembly member David Hadley. Prosecutors have used civil forfeiture to prop up state and municipal budgets, but it has become a racket that exploits those least able to defend themselves. More states should follow California’s lead.


More legislators should follow David Hadley's lead!

Let's clarify a few things, though.

First of all, there was no way that "Black Lives Matter" Holly Mitchell was going to get that bill passed through the state assembly. Her hard-edged opposition to police in particular and authority in general left a bad taste in many assemblymembers' mouths.

In 2015, Mitchell tried to pass a similar bill, and it died. Only four Republicans voted for it, including Hadley.

The Republican assemblyman took a stronger lead to work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and the second time they managed to pass it with overwhelming support.

Mitchell could not cobble together the necessary compromise.

Hadley did!

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