Highway interdiction and civil forfeiture are not new practices. A quick google search is all that is needed to learn that fact. Among the myriad of news stories about new drug and cash seizures are older results like this 1996 article from The Freeman, called “Seizure Fever” The War on Property Rights”. Recently, however, the Washington Post ran a four part in-depth series on interstate interdiction and civil forfeiture. The series details the history of the current practice of highway interdiction, tracing its roots from 9/11, to the growth of the private interdiction training industry, to the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program and finally exposing how law enforcement are using their loot to fund and equip their departments. There are personal stories the victims of these traffic stops; people who have had thousands of dollars and other property seized and forfeited. There are videos from these stops and statistics detailing the millions of dollars police have literally robbed from citizens traveling on U.S. interstates. The Washington Post does an excellent job exposing the real nature and problems with these stops in way which is understandable to the non-lawyer reader. This is a link to the series which I strongly encourage you to read.
It should come as no surprise that much of what is discussed in the Washington Post series also occurs here in Iowa. We have been on the front lines fighting this battle. In the last several years the number of interstate traffic stop cases, or as we refer to them in the business “interdiction cases”, and civil forfeiture cases has risen dramatically. And not all of the cases are traffic stop cases. We now see Iowa’s civil forfeiture laws being used to take cars, bank accounts and even homes, which the police claim have some connection, often tenuous at best, to illegal activity. At this law firm we are in the process of litigating cases to get our clients’ money, cars, homes and bank accounts back. We have been successful as a firm in getting literally hundreds of thousands of dollars back for our clients. We have also successfully won back clients’ vehicles and other property like computers and phones. Law enforcement cannot be permitted to continue to use and abuse the civil forfeiture laws as a substitute for revenue generation. There are times when forfeiture is appropriate. As it stands now however, the process is being abused. There are lawyers willing to take on these battles. We are willing to take on this battle. If you find yourself the victim of such abuse do not hesitate to contact us today.
Stowers & Sarcone PLC – 515.224.7446