More on the Civil Forfeiture Issue

You don’t have to be a left-wing nut case, a right-wing crackpot, a Libertarian fruitcake or a Tea Party wacko to believe this practice is wrong!

In this blog we’ve wailed and moaned about the fact that Homeowners Associations are not democracies, they are despotic tyrannies in which agenda driven homeowners get themselves elected to a perch from which they can terrorize their fellow neighbors. They levy fines, file lawsuits, seize homes, and in state after state homeowners lose everything they own without the case ever being overseen by a judge.

Seem a little bit fascist?

Well, these despots have a pretty good model. They need only look as far as their local police department for the ultimate how-to rule book.

Under federal law police departments can seize, almost at will, any property or assets which they can argue might have been used in commission of a crime. At first glance it seems like a good idea. You might not be able to convict the drug dealer but you can seize his crash pad and Mercedes and use them to bribe drug informants. You can also use confiscated goods to pay yourself overtime. That’s a great plot line actually used in many cop shows. 

But look at it from the standpoint of a few troubling clauses with roots in the U.S. Constitution. Due process. Innocent until proven guilty. The right to be secure in your persons, houses, papers and effects, probable cause….and all of that backed up by a mandated sworn warrant.

But if the cops get a crack at stuffing into their pockets the personal belongings of a ‘suspect’ in any kind of potential criminal case, where is our fundamental freedom as Americans? When ‘suspects’ who are never accused or even found guilty of a crime suddenly find their bank accounts frozen and drained by some overreaching small town sheriff, where’s the justice? It’s non-existent, of course.

That whole question of ‘civil forfeiture’ has suddenly landed on the oak (mahogany?) desks at the U.S. Supreme Court. This couple took out a loan on their house to pay their legal bills after they were indicted for allegedly stealing medical devices. That money was frozen.

There’s yet another pending case where a citizen is exerting his or her rights under the U.S. Constitution. It involves the owners of a grocery store who were accused by the IRS of tax violations. With nothing being proven, the IRS seized their $35,000 business bank account because it appeared there were one or two transactions above the $10,000 level. That level, BTW, is some kind of ‘secret signal’ that financial shenanigans are going on.  

This is certainly an interesting period of time in our nation’s history. We may be telling our grandchildren, “Yes, let me tell you a story from long, long ago when Americans actually had freedom.”

So very sad.

(huffington post story on forfeiture case)



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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

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