Loretta Lynch's Office Seized Over $904 million in Asset Forfeitures in 2013


Home » Loretta Lynch’s Office Seized Over $904 million in Asset Forfeitures in 2013

In September, US Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder announced his resignation, and people everywhere rejoiced.

We’ve been waiting to see who his successor will be, and on November 8 Obama announced his pick.

Her name is Loretta Lynch, and she’s currently the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She is expected to be confirmed as our new US AG in early 2015.

One can only hope she takes the Constitution more seriously than her predecessor.

Unfortunately, a major red flag has already been raised.

Lynch recently announced that her office seized over $904 million in asset forfeitures – in 2013 alone.

Barry Donegan of BenSwann.com reports:

According to a quote from The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, “As a prosecutor Ms. Lynch has also been aggressive in pursuing civil asset forfeiture, which has become a form of policing for profit. She recently announced that her office had collected more than $904 million in criminal and civil actions in fiscal 2013, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.” The editorial calls for senators to ask questions in an effort to clarify Lynch’s views on the controversial policy.

This is concerning, because civil asset forfeiture (often referred to as “legalized theft”) has more than doubled under Obama, according to an investigative series conducted by The Washington Post.

For those who aren’t familiar with civil asset forfeiture, here’s an explanation:

The government can seize your property – cash, jewelry, cars – and even your home – without charging or convicting you with a crime.

The racket is called civil asset forfeiture. In such cases, the government proceeds directly against your property. An individual doesn’t need to be convicted of a crime, so criminal procedure does not apply. And because the forfeiture is against the property, the owner is a third party claimant in related court proceedings.

Your Fifth and Fourteenth amendment rights don’t apply in these cases.

It is, in essence, legalized theft.

Since 2001, police have seized $2.5 billion in cash from people who were never charged with a crime.

Let the enormity of that statement sink in.

The Post created a chart that plots the inflation-adjusted dollar value of all Department of Justice asset forfeitures from 1989-2013. It includes both civil asset forfeitures, like the ones discussed in the Post’s investigative series, and criminal asset forfeitures, which occur when police seize property from defendants formally accused of a crime.

From the Post:

While the Department of Justice doesn’t provide a comparable breakdown of civil versus criminal seizures pre-2008, data since then show that civil asset forfeitures have more than doubled, from $508 million in 2008 to $1.1 billion in 2013.

While many factors likely contribute to the increase, one major component is the rise in post-2001 “stop and seize” traffic stops documented in the Post article.

Holder was notorious for enabling Obama’s rogue administration, with no less than sixteen major scandals happening under his watch.

With his resignation comes a chance to get this right, the chance to bring someone in who will respect and uphold not only the AG role, but the Constitutional rights of citizens.

Judge Andrew Napolitano explains why the AG role is so important:

Is this just inside-the-Beltway stuff, or should you care who is the chief federal law enforcement officer in the land? You should care, and here is why. When the United States was founded, the essence of the government was the diffusion of power between the states and the federal government. At the outset, state attorneys general were the engines that drove law enforcement, as the U.S. attorney general was involved exclusively with governmental relations between the states and the feds and protecting federal interests—which included federal property and federal currency. The job came with a small office and a handful of remotely venued prosecutors. The states checked federal law enforcement excess by not cooperating with it or even judicially invalidating it.

Today, the opposite is the case. When the feds want something, they bully the states aside, and when the feds get away with something, the states will soon follow. Today, the states are powerless to check federal excess, and so Attorney General Holder became President Obama’s enabler in some of the most egregious violations of the natural law, the Constitution, and federal law in modern American history. Today, the attorney general—often called “General” by law enforcement—commands an army of 90,000 lawyers, FBI agents, investigators, clerks, pilots, even troops. There are currently in excess of 4,000 federal criminal statutes for her to enforce, and she sets the tone for law enforcement throughout the country. (source)

Yesterday, The Heritage Foundation published a brief titled Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Goes Mainstream that discussed attempts to reform the practice:

Due in part to the increased scrutiny from media outlets, various reforms have been proposed to address the problems with civil asset forfeiture. Senator Rand Paul (R–KY) introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act that would, among other reforms, end equitable sharing altogether.

Representative Tim Walberg (R–MI) introduced the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act that would change the burden of proof in civil asset forfeiture proceedings and require that the government offer “clear and convincing” evidence that the property was being used for illegal purposes. The current standard relies simply on a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard for the government to meet.

Others have called for the practice to be stopped altogether. After seeing the abuses of civil asset forfeiture, John Yoder and Brad Yates, two of the architects of the expansion of federal forfeiture in the 1980s, publicly asserted that the “program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.”

Unfortunately, according to GovTrackUS, Paul’s bill is reported to only have a 2% chance at being enacted, and Walberg’s has a 3% chance.

Where does this leave us? At best, where we currently stand. At worst, in a lot more trouble. Only time will tell.

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attorney general barack obama brad yates eric holder john yoder loretta lynch rand paul tim walberg