Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Albuquerque to comply with NM forfeiture ban

Three Years After New Mexico Banned Civil Forfeiture, Albuquerque Finally Ends It - Hit & Run :

April 12, 2018 - "Albuquerque resident Arlene Harjo's case started out like thousands of others: a seized car, claims of unfairness, and indifference from city officials. But two years later, ... Albuquerque announced this week that it will end the program following a federal judge's recent decision to allow Harjo's lawsuit against the city to proceed. 'Given changes in state law and recent court rulings, it's time to update the city's policy on vehicle seizures,' Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement....

"Under typical civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property they claim is connected to criminal activity, whether or not the owner is charged with a crime, and keep some or all of the proceeds..... Bipartisan concern about those issues led New Mexico to essentially ban civil asset forfeiture in 2015. The law, unanimously approved by the legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Susan Martinez, allows forfeiture only when there is an accompanying criminal conviction.

"Albuquerque ignored the reforms, however, arguing that its forfeiture ordinance was not pre-empted by the new law. At the time, the city was seizing about 1,000 cars a year from residents....One of those residents was Harjo, whose car was seized after her son drove it while drunk. In 2016, with help from the Institute for Justice, she filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that the city's lucrative vehicle seizure program conflicted with state law and was ... in violation of her 14th Amendment due process rights....

"Albuquerque returned her car in 2016 in an attempt to render her lawsuit moot and keep its program intact. But in a March 30 opinion, U.S. District Judge James Browning allowed the case to proceed, warning the city that Harjo had raised plausible claims that the city's profit incentive in seizing cars and its hearing process violated her constitutional rights.

"Browning said Albuquerque's ordinance unconstitutionally forced owners to prove themselves innocent. 'The Court concludes that the Forfeiture Ordinance's innocent owner defense violates due process,' he wrote, ... 'and there is a significant risk of erroneous deprivation flowing from placing the burden of proof on innocent owners.' Browning also concluded that New Mexico's reforms pre-empted Albuquerque's ordinance but dismissed that claim to allow state courts to sort the issue out."

"Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which is representing Harjo, says the mayor's announcement "is a welcome change in the city's position."

"'For years Albuquerque refused to abide by state law,' he continued. 'Now we have to see if the city council will walk the walk and fully embrace the New Mexico Forfeiture Reform Act, including getting rid of policing for profit altogether. We're going to keep on fighting to vindicate not only Arlene's rights, but the constitutional rights of everyone in Albuquerque and New Mexico.'"

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Libertarian trucker enters Ontario election race in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell

Darcy Neal Donnelly is driving to be the first Libertarian MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. - The

April 16, 2018 - "Allen Small, Leader of the Ontario Libertarian Party, is pleased to accept Darcy Neal Donnelly as the candidate in Glengarry Prescott Russell for the provincial election on June 7, 2018.... Donnelly, 57, a truck driver .... is married [with]three children ... and they have owned their home in Fournier since 2000. He enjoys driving trucks because it gives him a 'feeling of being free in an unfree world'”. He drove into politics as a protest....

''It was the during the economic crisis of 2008 that he became politically irritated by all the corporate bailouts at taxpayers expense.  Donnelly doesn’t believe people’s taxes should fund special interest corporate welfare programs. During the 2011 federal election, Donnelly discovered the Libertarian Party of Canada through the internet. He agreed with its stated principles and policies and he contacted the federal Libertarian candidate.... The next day, he asked how to become a candidate in order to help create a greater awareness of the Libertarian Party.

"Donnelly was the first Libertarian candidate in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry ... one of 14 Libertarians in Ontario.... Donnelly ran again in the 2011 provincial and there were 51 Libertarian candidates across Ontario. In the 2014 election, he ran as the Libertarian candidate in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and there were 73 Libertarians. Today, according to the party’s website (, the Ontario Libertarian Party has 124 individuals (full slate) assigned as candidates for the June 7 provincial election, including Darcy Neal Donnelly for Glengarry Prescott Russell.

"The Ontario Libertarian Party (Gold) offers to increase your individual control over your own life, including greater personal and economic freedoms compared to the BORG (Blue, Orange, Red, Green) party’s offerings of greater government controls over you. Libertarians seek to increase non-government delivery of services to help reduce the cost of living and working in Ontario. The party’s 2018 Platform is available here:

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Vohra bashed for 'School Board shootings' line

Libertarian Party Vice Chair Jokes About Shooting Up a School Board; Party's National Committee Declines to Suspend Him - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

April 13, 2018 - "Arvin Vohra, vice chair of the Libertarian Party's National Committee (LNC), prides himself on being rhetorically uncompromising in staking out the most radical and potentially outrageous outer frontiers of libertarian thought. His past comments on the age of consent (he says it isn't the government's business) and the proper moral attitude toward members of the U.S. military (he says they're hired killers) caused the party's New York gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe (singled out by Politico as a 'rarity...a serious Libertarian candidate') to quit his position on the National Committee after it failed to suspend Vohra back in February.

"Since then, the rhetorical outrages have continued. In a post last month on the social network site MeWe, Vohra wrote: 'Bad Idea: School Shootings. Good Idea: School Board Shootings.'

"Vohra insists that was not a serious threat but a joke in 'poor taste.' But he also has tried to use it as a teaching moment over the question of when violent resistance might be justified.... [A]s he wrote on Facebook, 'I've routinely argued against any violence against the state, since I consider it unlikely to work. But for all the hardcore gun supporters who wear taxation is theft t-shirts: what is the level of tyranny that would be great enough to morally justify using violence in self defense?'

"He has 'no plans to ever advocate violence against the state,' but only for pragmatic reasons. 'I consider it unnecessary,' not wrong. 'I believe that Dr. King and Gandhi have showed that violence is not needed to fight the state. I consider it unlikely to work.' He absolutely believes in the right to use violence to defend yourself against state actions.

"Many LNC members found the seeming threat of school board shootings to violate a pledge party members take to "certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals." Vohra seems to doubt that striking at agents of the state with violence is initiating such violence, but even he wrote off the school board shooting line as a joke.

"At the end of March, some LNC members publicly asked Vohra to resign, which he opted not to do. Another motion to suspend Vohra was introduced on April 3, and last night it failed. The vote was 11–6 in favor of suspending him, but the party's rules require a two-thirds vote of the total body for suspension, so it fell a vote short....

 "LNC Chair Nicholas Sarwark voted against booting Vohra.... Sarwark stood on the principle that, since Vohra was elected by the body of the members, the decision to get him out of his job should be left up to that body when it votes for the next vice chair at the party's convention in New Orleans this summer."

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Legal US resident arrested for wrongful conviction

Man freed after wrongful conviction, only to be taken into custody by immigration authorities - Chicago Tribune - Gregory Pratt & Megan Crepeau:

March 30, 2018 - "In the two decades since Ricardo Rodriguez was convicted of murder, he has maintained his innocence. This week, the Cook County state’s attorney agreed to drop the case against him amid allegations that a discredited police detective manipulated witnesses. But instead of walking out of prison a free man Wednesday, Rodriguez was taken into custody by federal immigration authorities....

"Before he was sent to prison for a 1995 murder, Rodriguez was a lawful permanent resident. His status was revoked when he was convicted, his attorneys said. Now he faces the possibility of being deported despite being freed....

"'A case with a conviction and then vacating a murder conviction, I haven’t heard of that,' said Erin Cobb, a vice chair on the American Immigration Lawyers Association Chicago chapter’s board....

"According to data compiled by the National Registry of Exonerations, a wrongful conviction database maintained by the University of Michigan, at least 159 people have been freed from prison after being convicted in Cook County — a staggering sum that ranks Cook County higher than almost every state for exonerations. That figure doesn’t include Rodriguez’s case....

"Rodriguez’s conviction stems from a drive-by in Humboldt Park, his attorneys said. A homeless man, Rodney Kemppainen, who did neighborhood jobs for people in exchange for sleeping in garages, was killed in the shooting.... Rodriguez did not confess to the killing, and there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime, the attorneys said.

"One of the witnesses who testified against Rodriguez claimed he was manipulated by Guevara, according to the attorneys.... [T]he Exoneration Project found another witness who said Rodriguez was not the shooter."

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Canadian governments abuse civil forfeiture

National | Abusing civil forfeiture in Canada - Justin Ling:

January 10, 2017 - "Ontario’s civil forfeiture laws have created a system that is broad in scope and power, light on defence and relief....That’s a reality that Margaret and Terry Reilly have learned the hard way over the past decade, as the government has aggressively pursued two of their properties, seizing their buildings and selling them off.....

"The Reillys have found allies in the Canada Constitution Foundation (CCF), who are helping in the legal fight against the forfeiture order.

"The case dates back to 2008, when the couple had two of their rental properties in Orillia seized. As a Crown attorney told the local paper in Orillia, where the Reillys live, the properties had essentially become drug dens.... But the police didn’t pursue charges against the Reillys’ tenants.... Instead, they went after the houses themselves and, in turn, their owners....

"The properties were taken into the possession of Ontario’s Director of Asset Management in 2008, while the two sides battled it out in court, and filed to permanently take control of the properties in 2012 and sell them. The move was, according to the CCF, 'on the grounds that some of the tenants’ rents may have been paid, in part, with the proceeds of their drug

“This case is a particularly chilling example,” said Shawna Fattal, a criminal lawyer who represents the Reillys, speaking at the CCF’s [2017] annual Law & Freedom Conference....

"In a 2016 report from the CCF, they gave Ontario an 'F' on its civil forfeiture law. They note that 'the province routinely uses its power to forfeit property in circumstances where there is insufficient evidence to merit criminal charges.' Also, the province 'uses its power to pursue the property of third parties not suspected of any wrongdoing.'"

"Fattal shared the stage with Justin Safayeni, a litigator at Stockwoods with a practice in constitutional matters. 'We have very broad seizure powers, very weak statutory defences...and we have a Crown that is using this legislation is quite aggressively,' Safayeni told the crowd.... he and Fattal agreed that the fight against overbroad forfeiture laws — something endemic to almost every province, according to the CCF — is ultimately a fight that may have to go province-by-province.

 "One big variable will be how the Hell’s Angels fare in British Columbia, where they are currently launching a constitutional challenge to fight the seizure of a clubhouse on the basis that, the Attorney General says, the location could be used for crime in the future."

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Ebke unveils model licensing reform bill

Libertarian State Senator Wants to Make it Easier for People With Criminal Records (And Everyone Else) to Work - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

April 6, 2018 - "Laura Ebke of Nebraska is the Libertarian Party's only sitting state senator. A bill she introduced to reform her state's occupational licensing regime got an enthusiastic and lengthy write-up this week in The Wall Street Journal.... The Occupational Board Reform Act (L.B. 299) would change the incentive structure and process by which Nebraska decides the most rational and least restrictive way to ensure consumer safety without unduly harming people's ability to work.

"The state has been interested in 'chipping away at occupational licenses one by one' for a while, Ebke said.... Then last year she 'was approached by the Institute for Justice to see if I would be interested in carrying some model legislation they had put together, and I was very interested.'

"One of the more colorful case studies, described in the Journal story, involves massaging horses, which leaves you open in Nebraska to a possible four years in jail and a $35,000 fine if you do it unlicensed.... Ebke saw it as a teachable moment: 'Does it make sense,' she asked her colleagues, 'to demand a license to give a rubdown to a 1,200-pound creature?'

"The final vote on the measure is expected next week, and Ebke is confident it will make it to the governor's desk and be signed. One of her main allies in the process is a Nebraska-based free market think tank, the Platte Institute, founded by the sitting governor Pete Ricketts.

"Being a Libertarian, Ebke says, has likely helped the bill's so-far positive prospects. 'Most of the co-sponsors are Republicans,' she says, but 'the fact that I'm not a Republican allows some of the more liberal members of the body to come and talk to me." She says she's found such members willing to work on getting the bill into a shape that they can support, 'and their willingness to do so speaks to the fact that a lot of times I have been with them' on issues where Republicans were not.

"Ebke is also proud that the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has been an enthusiastic proponent of the bill, largely because of how it deals with how difficult current occupational licensing laws can make it for those with criminal records to find meaningful work.... As the Journal notes, 'Recidivism rates are lower in states where former criminals can find gainful employment.'

"In arguing for the bill, Ebke has found that some citizens are 'very protectionist and want to protect their [existing] licenses,' but many Nebraskans are excited for a chance to do meaningful productive work without jumping through unnecessary and expensive hoops."

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

MA cannabis rules allow cafes, craft cultivation

Massachusetts Is The New Testbed For Cannabis Legalization - Kris Kane, Forbes:

April 10, 2018 - "Massachusetts, whose residents voted in 2016 to legalize cannabis for adult use, is on the cusp of implementing experimental, never-before-seen rules that will be closely watched by both the cannabis industry and regulators around the country.

"Last month, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, the regulatory agency tasked with overseeing the rollout and implementation of Massachusetts’ new adult-use cannabis industry, released the final rules that will govern the market.... Many of the rules have been seen before (child-resistant packaging requirements; separate licenses for cultivators, producers, and retailers; etc.) What’s noteworthy about Massachusetts’ new rules, though, are the ones that have never been tried before and could serve as a blueprint for other states....

"Massachusetts is seeking to ... rectify ... some of the social injustices that have been a result of marijuana prohibition.... Nearly 80% of people in federal prison for drug offences and almost 60% in state prison are black or latino.... And yet, for the most part, people of color and people who have convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses have so far been largely excluded from meaningful participation in the new cannabis economy....

"[T]he state has eliminated the vertical-integration requirement of the medical program, which mandated that all businesses must produce the products sold in their dispensaries.... The commission decided to not only split these into separate cultivation, production, and dispensary licenses, but also to create sub-licenses for cultivation facilities of different sizes. Under these rules, an entrepreneur wanting to open a smaller cultivation/production facility will have to pay some of the lowest registration fees in the country.... The commission will also allow these small 'craft' cultivators to cultivate collectively, meaning that they can pool resources to achieve economies of scale....

"It is important to note that these provisions ... did not happen in a vacuum. Commissioner Shaleen Title, one of the five commissioners ... is a veteran drug policy reformer. Shaleen founded a chapter of NORML/Students for Sensible Drug Policy as an undergrad in college in the early 2000s, worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (now Law Enforcement Action Partners), and ... went on to form a staffing company, THC Staffing.... It goes to show how important it is that people who have spent their careers advocating for sensible marijuana policies have a seat at the table as regulators, and not have these positions left solely to lifelong bureaucrats, attorneys, and businesspeople....

"The state will also be closely watched as one of the first in the country to roll out 'social consumption' licenses for businesses to allow customers to consume marijuana on-site.... Within a few years cannabis consumers will not only be able to indulge at their favorite dispensary, but could be able to enjoy cannabis at a cafe, movie theater, or yoga studio."

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