By Tyler Durden
Authored by Rand Paul via Rare Liberty,
“Innocent until proven guilty” is the bedrock of American jurisprudence. Civil asset forfeiture, a legal process in which the government confiscates your property without a guilty verdict, turns that justice on its head.
Take the case of the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. In 2009, owner Russ Caswell found himself the target of a civil forfeiture claim by the federal government and his local police department, even though he had never been accused – much less convicted – of a crime. It should also be noted that, historically, the motel had a good working relationship with the police, even providing them with free rooms for stakeouts and contacting them about suspicious activities.
The government’s basis for seizing the property? Fifteen “drug-related incidents” over a 14-year period – out of around 196,000 rooms rented.
In its reporting on the case, WBUR recounted how a DEA agent testified that it was his job “to seek out targets for forfeiture by watching television news and reading newspapers” and to check the Registry of Deeds after discovering properties where drug crimes had taken place. The Motel Caswell, with a more than $1 million value and lack …read more