Nebraska forbade cops from stealing cash from motorists, but a loophole let them carry on doing it

Originally published at: Nebraska forbade cops from stealing cash from motorists, but a loophole let them carry on doing it | Boing Boing


With cops like these, who needs criminals?


Waze and Google Maps should route drivers around this nest of uniformed highwaymen. The same goes for the speed-trap towns in Florida.


I read this yesterday. I honestly do not understand, and will never understand, how this practice has not been held to be unconstitutional. I get all the legal fiction about a civil action against the property, but that is just that…a legal fiction. It’s not reality. The reality is that the state is seizing people’s property without probable cause (yes, the drug dog provided probable cause but they didn’t have reasonable suspicion to extend the stop long enough to get the drug dog there—I’m sure courts would say the cash was sufficient to provide reasonable suspicion, but that’s bullshit, imo), and then permanently taking it without due process. Somebody should take the case highlighted in this article and sue in federal court because I think this implicates the 4th and 14th Amendments. I have no confidence that SCOTUS would agree with me, but civil asset forfeiture is just state sanctioned theft.


We elected a president who didn’t have any idea about civil forfeiture and when he learns about it, he thinks its a great idea.

Clarification edit: Trump. It’s trump. Our country’s process elected him. The GOP offered someone this ignorant, and a minority voted him in. It’s our problem still to fix.


I have so little faith in SCOTUS these days that I would not be surprised if they were to rule “it’s OK as long as we get our beaks wet too.”


Wow. It’s stunning that this kind of thing is going on. The whole point of separating law enforcement and courts is to prevent this kind of corruption. It’s why cops don’t accept payment on the spot for speeding tickets, as many lesser-developed countries do- it always creates this exact kind of corruption. You’re inevitably left to bribe the cop to leave you alone.

I guess it has flown under the radar because they only do it to “folks who ain’t from ‘round here”. Maybe a lot of the locals secretly like it.


Just get arrested with heavily contaminated bills…


It’s flown under the radar because it was sold to the general public as a way to punish drug dealers without having to actually convict them of a crime. That it doesn’t do that is irrelevant. Anytime people make a noise about this, law enforcement claims it’s a necessary tool to combat the drug trade and the average American goes “oh, ok, well that’s not going to affect me” and promptly forgets about it.


It reminds me of a shady practice in my state where the Department of Revenue sends a tax bill to people charged with a certain quantity of an illegal drug, the reasoning being that if they sold drugs and made money doing so, the DOR should get a cut of the proceeds. It doesn’t matter if the case eventually gets thrown out or the person is found not guilty, they’re still stuck with the tax bill from the State either way.


Really, even a separate court system doesn’t get rid of bribery in places where it is endemic. I have it on good authority that the rule is: “Bribe the police, they’re much cheaper than the judges.”


Civil asset forfeiture is a scourge and the sooner it is banned the better. Every time I tell people about it they are appalled. And I’m a lawyer - many of my lawyer friends were not aware of this practice.

Steve Lehto over at the Lehto’s Law podcast does a lot of stories about this. One of the regular problems is that if you confiscate say $10k, who is going to hire a lawyer for some significant fraction of that to try to get it back? And of course a lot of times the thieves (I mean, cops) will try to split your own money with you - maybe offer to give you back 50% if you sign away your rights to the rest. Nowadays there are non-profits that help individuals pursue these claims but they can’t fight all of them.


“We” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there.


Asset forfeiture has always blown my mind. It’s just so completely, obviously unconstitutional and against the most basic foundational principles of the United States, and yet it still exists…

I mean, this literal highway robbery.

It made sense only in the original context of the pirate ship. It didn’t matter who legally owned the pirate ship - it was a pirate ship! It was an instrument of a criminal enterprise that enabled those crimes. Cash is obviously not a pirate ship.


The Blue Klux Klan is the largest, most violent, and most heavily armed criminal gang on the planet. They steal magnitudes more money than any other criminal organization, more even than the Mafia. I wish I were exaggerating.


It was always a clear violation of the 4th Amendment from the start. I am also bewildered that it hasn’t been quashed for good.


One suspects that the cops aren’t kicking half of the money to the school system, rather than keeping all of it for their tacticool slush fund, out of profound ignorance of the importance of maintaining a relationship with your constituents. Across only 18,000 people/6,000 households that’s real money; conveniently harvested for you from xeno motorists.

I suspect that the ‘my dislike of taxes is the true measure of government size’ crew loves it.


$10K is chump change for some of these LEOs:

Of course, those cases of six-figure seizures at airports are cast in a way to make it seem like CBP and the TSA are overstepping, but the reality is that it is all branches involved in this practice. Of course only those with the resources and goodwill from the public are able to push back.

It’s disgusting and an abuse of authority at every level, but folks who point out that these groups need to be defunded and have much stricter public oversight wind up being portrayed as the problem and targeted.


Yah, the same people who complain about overreaching government also seem to love the militarization and expansion of police. Funny- it’s almost like what they say they care about isn’t what they actually care about.


If you want a brief overview of this history of this issue with the Supreme Court, this is an interesting read. The tl;dr is SCOTUS denied cert on this case even though they seemed to agree civil asset forfeiture was being systematically abused and is a problem. Why, then, did they deny cert? Because the petitioner was basing her case on due process, but she hadn’t made that argument in the lower courts. You can’t do that. You can’t switch gears on appeal to the Supreme Court and make a completely different argument than you did at the appeals court level. I’m amazed that in the 6 years since, no other case has been brought to the Court. Thomas wrote that opinion in denying cert and seemed very sympathetic to the core issue. Someone really needs to find a good, strong case to take back to SCOTUS.