"[U]nder Michigan's forfeiture statute, an owner’s innocence is not a defense." - GRRRRR....
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Posted by: TEEBONE ®

02/10/2020, 00:55:12

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Major U.S. city sued for grabbing cars from innocent owners and demanding ransoms! - WND

WND Staff
4-5 minutes

Detroit earned its moniker "the motor city" for its leadership in the auto industry.

But the city now is developing another reputation related to cars, it's practice of seizing seizing cars from innocent owners and then demanding a "ransom" to ensure their return.

The Institute for Justice has filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of several car owners.

One, Robert Reeves, worked last summer briefly for a contractor clearing out debris from an empty lot.

On his way home, he was arrested. Police said they suspected the tractor the contractor drove was stolen. He was not aware of that fact, but to police it didn't matter.

Police seized his car and money. No one has been charged with a crime, but five months later, Robert's car remains in a city impound lot.

In another case, Melisa Ingram's car was seized by Wayne County sheriff's deputies after she lent it to her then-boyfriend so he could drive to a friend's barbecue.

Later that day, IJ said, police pulled him over for slowing down in an area known for prostitution. Although he was never charged with a crime, police nevertheless seized Ingram's 2017 Ford Fusion.

"The following day, she went down to the courthouse to sort things out. There, she explained that the car wasn't his and that she'd obviously would have never given him permission to pick up a prostitute, as the police alleged," IJ said.

"But her pleas fell on deaf ears, because under Michigan's forfeiture statute, an owner’s innocence is not a defense. The clerk explained that Melisa's only option was to pay the city $1,800—$1,800 she did not have—plus the cost of towing and storage. Without the money to pay the city, she was forced to give up her car and declare personal bankruptcy. Now, seven months later, she's broken up with her boyfriend and is forced to ride the bus to work for the first time in her life."

Wesley Hottot, a lawyer working on the case, said that "in many ways, Melisa was victimized twice: First by her partner and a second time by Detroit's outrageous vehicle forfeiture program, which turns a blind-eye to the innocence of owners."

"Innocent until proven guilty is a bedrock American value, and yet, under Detroit's civil forfeiture program innocence is irrelevant. It is clearly unconstitutional to force one person to pay for another person’s crime."

The "abuse" of residents' constitutional rights has been pursued by Detroit police, sheriff's deputies and others "for decades," the report said.

It's all under a program the city calls "civil forfeiture."

It doesn't matter whether the owner is guilty or innocent. Police need only to declare they believe a car is connected to a crime to seize it.

"Detroit's forfeiture program is less like a justice system and more like having your car stolen and paying a ransom to get it back," IJ said.

"Once police seize a car, there is no judge or jury. Instead, prosecutors give owners a choice. They can either pay the city's ransom or hire an attorney and enter a byzantine process that is confusing, time-consuming, and expensive. The process is designed to ensure that owners fail nearly every time. I've watched this happen time and time again, and never once have I seen an owner successfully make it to court and get his or her car back."

IJ lawyer Kirby West said the city uses the Supreme Court's Bennis ruling as a foundation for its program. But the ruling is controversial and old, and the precedent should be overturned, West contends.

Courts in New Mexico and Pennsylvania already have used cases in front of them to kill the precedent, West noted. He said the Supreme Court "will eventually have to correct this grievous decision."


Democrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.

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