Civil Asset Forfeiture

What is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

Civil Asset Forfeiture in the United States, sometimes called civil judicial forfeiture, is a legal process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing.

While civil procedure generally involves a dispute between two private citizens, civil forfeiture involves a dispute between law enforcement and property, such as money or valuable items such as a car.  The item should be suspected of being involved in a crime.

Wikipedia states that to get back the seized property, “owners must prove it was not involved in criminal activity.”

This is an odd twist:  usually, the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but in this case, the owner of the item must prove his or her innocence.

Last Thursday, SB 443, California’s attempt to end civil-asset forfeiture and “equitable sharing” abuse, failed passage in the State Assembly, 24 to 44, according to the National Review.

What is equitable sharing?

The National Review writes that “Forfeiture practices are further complicated with the existence of equitable-sharing agreements. Therein, state and local agencies partner with federal law enforcement, seize property, and proceed with the forfeiture motion through the jurisdiction with the least restrictive process, oftentimes the federal courts. The agencies then share the proceeds. This allows law enforcement to wholly sidestep any legal protections guaranteed by the state.”

More on Civil Asset Forfeiture by Wikipedia:

“Proponents see civil forfeiture as a powerful tool to thwart criminal organizations involved in the illegal drug trade, with $12 billion annual profits, since it allows authorities to seize cash and other assets resulting from narcotics trafficking. Proponents argue that it is an efficient method since it allows law enforcement agencies to use these seized proceeds to further battle illegal activity, that is, directly converting bad things to good purposes by harming criminals economically while helping law enforcement financially. Critics argue that innocent owners become entangled in the process such that their right to property is violated, with few legal protections and due process rules to protect them in situations where they are presumed guilty instead of being presumed innocent.”

The ACLU writes:

“Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government.”

Why would we allow civil asset forfeiture?

The Heritage Foundation writes that Civil Asset Forfeiture is intended to give law enforcement a tool they can use to go after organized crime – mafia, etc. – including drug dealers and their organizations.

The Heritage Foundation continues:  “Unfortunately, civil asset forfeiture is also used by law enforcement as a way to generate revenue, and many of its targets are innocent members of the public.”

In regards to the California Senate Bill 443, the bill “would not affect law enforcement’s power to seize property, based on probable cause. Police would still be able to hold seized property in evidence rooms and impound lots until forfeiture proceedings are resolved.”

A Sacramento Bee letter to the editor writes:

“Instead, SB 443 would only allow seized property to be forfeited (to the government) once its owner has been convicted of any crime. California already requires this for most seizures. Several states, including Montana, Nevada and New Mexico, recently enacted this vital protection of due process.

“Moreover, whenever California agencies collaborate with the federal government, SB 443 would first require the federal government to obtain a criminal conviction before proceeding with forfeiture. One investigation found the federal government, in cooperation with California agencies, took nearly $300 million in cash from people never charged with a crime.”

Boy At Beach Hit By Crash-Landing Small Airplane

A 12-year-old hit by a small, single-engine plane at Carlsbad State Beach in California is listed in serious condition at Rady Children’s Hospital.

A small single-engine Piper PA18 towing a beach-banner crashed into the beach, reported officials.

Nicholas Baer was body-boarding with some of his friends on the 4th of July when a plane lost power and crashed into him.

“At the last second, he saw it and he almost fell back trying to get out of the way and he hit his face,” said Carson Scott, who is friends with Baer.

The body board Baer was using has blood stains and tire marks from the crash.

“Right here is where the tire hit him,” said Scott.

Right after the crash, Baer was bleeding from his head. Carson’s Dad, Tom who brought the boys to the beach, jumped into action.

“I was holding the back of his head just trying to keep him calm and waiting for people to show up,” said Scott.

Lifeguards and paramedics quickly responded and took the boy to Rady Children’s Hospital.

(Updated tags, categories)

California ‘Cap-And-Trade’ Program Provides $122 Million For Affordable Housing

According to, California’s cap-and-trade program this year will provide $122 million in funding for affordable housing, including more than 800 new units in Southern California for lower-income residents.

28 winning projects are to be built using high energy-efficiency standards and will be located within a half mile of public transit stops.

California’s Strategic Growth Council, which picked the award recipients, said that’s in keeping with the spirit of the cap-and-trade program that collects fees from polluting companies to put toward addressing climate change.

The housing projects will “reduce as much greenhouse gas as taking all the cars in Newport Beach and Citrus Heights up north off the road for a year,” said Mike McCoy, the council’s executive director.!cap-and-trade/c1rev

Another Death From The Epidemic Of Violence And Bullying In The U.S.

A California teen who killed himself after years of bullying has sparked a community discussion about the destructive behavior while raising questions among his family about the way he was treated.

Adam Kizer, a 16-year-old sophomore at Sonoma Valley High School near San Francisco, died Saturday at a hospital after being taken off life support, his family said.

He hung himself four days earlier and did not respond to life-saving efforts, said his father, William Kizer.

Mr. Kizer said his son had been a target of bullying since elementary school in Wyoming, where other kids once bound him and poured gasoline on him.

According to, the abuse continued in Sonoma after the family moved there in 2011, with students at Sonoma Valley High picking on the slightly built teen with shaggy hair, encouraging him to take his own life, the father said.

In a show of community support, about 200 people attended a vigil Sunday night at the Sonoma Plaza. Makeshift shrines could be seen at a park near the school as well as on campus, where students were taking final exams before the end of the school year.

(Updated article)

Russell Brand On The Possibility Of A Future Dystopia Of Water And Oil Shortages

Russell Brand

Four years into its drought, Californians are forced to cut back on water use by 25%, and they are looking to Australia for advice on coping with water shortages.

Russell Brand talks about the possibility of a future where water and gasoline are scarce resources.

Santa Barbara Symphony Plays Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

Laquita Mitchell
Laquita Mitchell

Few works by American composers have enjoyed the life of George and Ira Gershwin’s symphony Porgy and Bess, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. 

Controversial from the moment it premiered in 1935, the symphony based on African-American themes and is set on Catfish Row, a poor district of Charleston, South Carolina.

The action swings back and forth across the water as the characters come and go from Catfish Row to Kittiwah, a fictional island off the coast of Charleston.

The Santa Barbara Symphony will play in the Granada Theatre Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, for its season finale.

The Santa Barbara Choral Society and vocal soloists Laquita Mitchell and Michael Sumuel will join them for the Gershwin symphony.

“Expect to hear the greatest of all seasonal theme songs, the magnificent ‘Summertime,’ rendered with the taste, beauty, and sheer sonic heft that a full orchestra with a chorus can provide,” writes the Santa Barbara Independent.

In addition to Gershwin, there will be two other pieces by American composers: Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 “Romantic” and a world premiere, Arioso for Strings, Oboe, and Percussion by Dan Redfield.

Redfield’s Arioso was composed in response to waiting to board a flight from New York to Los Angeles on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Redfield’s flight was cancelled and he made his way from the airport through a stricken and confused Manhattan in the back seat of a taxi.

The concerts are Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Former CEO Of Hewlett-Packard Looking At A Run For President


Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina plans to make an announcement regarding a run for president “toward the end of this month or the beginning of May.”

Fiorina was the CEO of the computer company from 1999 to 2005, according to MSNBC, and would run as a Republican candidate.

(Updated post)

California Has 13% Of Normal Snowpack

Sacramento, California, and the Sierra Nevada have been abnormally dry for the fourth straight winter.  Last year, fall began with the hope that the drought would be broken, but it didn’t happen.

With the exception of a heavy rain in December and one in February, Sacramento has been dry.

Last year was the hottest year in Sacramento history, states the Sacramento Bee newspaper. The lack of rain was noticeable in January – which is normally rainy – when just 0.01 of an inch was recorded in Sacramento.

Reports state that the winter did not deliver much snow to the Sierra Nevada. California’s water supplies are reliant on mountain snowpack that melts in the spring and fills reservoirs for summer use in cities and on farms.

A recent snowpack survey showed that statewide, the California mountains have just 13 percent of the snowpack normal for this time of year, states the Sacramento Bee website.

“Generally our snowpack accounts for about a third of our state water supply,” said Brooke Bingaman, weather service meteorologist.

“Not all of the 13 percent snowpack will end up in the reservoirs, some of it will soak into the ground. So the level our reservoirs are at now is essentially what we will have for the rest of the summer.”


(Updated post)

Trial To Look At The Role Of Online Bullying In Suicide Death

A 15-year-old California girl hanged herself a week after three classmates photographed themselves sexually assaulting her at a 2012 party.  She reportedly was petrified the boys would circulate the photos online and believed gossip about her was spreading widely, according to

And perhaps it was spreading widely.

Audrie Pott’s story has captivated those concerned with teen bullying, which appears to be on the rise with the help of smartphones and social media.

A wrongful death trial this month in San Jose will determine whether bullying played a role in the girl’s suicide.  What do you think?

Lawyers are scheduled to argue Wednesday over what evidence the jury will hear, while opening statements are expected to start next week.

The three boys, now high school seniors, and other teens are expected to deliver uncomfortable and emotional testimony about the party where Audrie was sexually assaulted after passing out drunk, as well as about other events leading up to her death.


California Reportedly Imposes ‘First-Ever’ Water Restrictions


Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown imposed mandatory water restrictions for the first time on residents, businesses, and farms, states CNN.

The restrictions order cities and towns in the state to reduce usage by 25%.