If you need another expert opinion on the dangers and concerns around civil asset forfeiture, look no further than the man who helped start it. Brad Cates, the former director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office who helped create the civil forfeiture system as we know it, has become a staunch critic of the…
“In Indiana, policing for profit isn’t just wrong; it’s unconstitutional, and that’s because the Indiana constitution could not be clearer that all forfeitures go to schools not law enforcement.” That’s what Institute for Justice Attorney Sam Gedge told FOX 59 in Indianapolis regarding IJ’s latest lawsuit, filed yesterday. The lawsuit seeks to put an end…
Late last week, a Fulton County Superior Court judge dismissed all constitutional aspects of the legal challenge to Georgia’s popular tax credit scholarship program. The program allows individuals and corporations to claim a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their voluntary contributions to private charities, which in turn use the donated funds to provide scholarships for low-income…
Phil Applebaum | Liberty in Action | February 10, 2016
Last month, the Institute for Justice and local property-owners-turned-activists struck a decisive victory for property rights in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. This fight provides a perfect example of how threatened property owners can employ grassroots activism to quickly defeat redevelopment projects. Here’s the blow-by-blow: In the center of Mt. Airy lies an abandoned factory known…
Indiana Forfeiture Victims Sue to End Civil Forfeiture's Perverse Profit Incentive
Arlington, Va.—The Indiana Constitution clearly states that “all forfeitures” must go to support the state’s schools, but that has not stopped police and prosecutors in Indianapolis from keeping 100 percent of civil forfeiture proceeds for themselves. This multi million-dollar constitutional violation has been going on for years, fueling aggressive forfeiture practices in Indiana’s capital city.…
A new bill would fully legalize pot(lucks) in Arizona. Under Arizona law, potlucks and other “noncommercial social events,” are exempt from food safety regulations and health department inspections, but only if they occur “at a workplace.” So that exception does not extend to hosting potlucks at a home or church, rendering them against the law.…
The Missouri Senate has taken a significant step towards curbing excessive municipal fines in the state. A new law, passed by the Senate last month, puts stricter caps on how much revenue municipalities can collect through fining residents and traffic violators. The senate bill to set these new caps, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, passed with…
Jim and Cliff Courtney have a plan to bring economic prosperity to their small community. Unfortunately, the state of Washington has sunk their plan with a law that requires them to obtain a certificate of “public convenience and necessity” from the state in order to pick up and drop off passengers.
Charles Clarke is a college student, who spent over 5 years to save up $11,000—only to have it seized by law enforcement officials before he was scheduled to board a flight at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.
Mildred Bryant is 84 years old and living out her golden years in the home she’s owned for 46 years in Pagedale, Missouri. But she faces a real threat of tickets, fines, and imprisonment from the town.
IJ client Elmer Kilian has been preparing taxes for the past 30 years on his dining room table. He fought and successfully defended his right to earn an honest living without getting permission from the IRS.
Jason and Jacki have owned their property in Golden Valley, a suburb of Minneapolis, for decades. But the city hasn’t respected their tenants’ wishes and instead has tried to obtain unconstitutional “administrative” warrants to force its way inside.
Khalid (“Ken”) Quran moved to America in 1997, and now runs a convenience store in Greenville, N.C. But the government seized his entire bank account—more than $150,000—even though he was never charged with a crime.
Chris and Markela Sourovelis worked their whole lives to build a home for their family. Officials in Philadelphia then tried to use civil forfeiture to take it all away, even though Chris and Markela did nothing wrong.
Aimee and Heath Hairr have five adopted children. Their oldest, Nolan, was floundering in his public school and endured intense bullying. The Hairrs just want Nolan to have a safe learning environment and for their other children to have the same.
IJ client Jane Astramecki, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, runs a home baking business. But Minnesota’s restrictive cottage food law bans her from earning more than $5,000 a year and from selling her treats at venues other than farmers’ markets and community events.
Norys Hernandez co-owns a home in North Philadelphia with her sister, who resides there. Norys has never been in trouble with the law. But her home was seized after her nephew was caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home.
Michael Peticolas owns Peticolas Brewing, located in an industrial neighborhood near downtown Dallas. In 2013, Texas passed a law that prohibits brewers from negotiating with distributors for the value of their territorial rights. Instead, the law forces brewers to give those rights away for free. That jeopardizes his plans to expand into other parts of Texas.
The Washington Department of Licensing ordered IJ client Salamata Sylla to obtain a time-consuming and irrelevant cosmetology license for hair braiding. IJ sued on her behalf and forced the Department to adopt a rule exempting braiders.
Rett owns Revolver Brewing, south of Fort Worth. He is fighting a Texas law that forces brewers to give up their distribution rights to distributors for free. Even worse, distributors can then sell those rights to other distributors and pocket the money.
Liz has seven children, three of whom have a severe tissue disorder called EDS which requires constant medical attention. Liz needs Nevada’s ESA so she can design a quality education for her youngest EDS child, Dallin, who will likely miss a lot of school in the future.
Florence and Derrick would like their children to attend a Catholic high school in Aurora, Colo. But paying tuition for both children to attend Regis would be a substantial financial burden, so scholarships by Douglas County’s school choice program would help defray costs.
Chip owns Live Oak Brewing, based in Austin, Texas. Established in 1997, Live Oak has been brewing craft beer long before its current surge in popularity. Now he is fighting a Texas law that forces craft brewers to give up millions of dollars of valuable property to politically connected beer distributors.
The Archdiocese of Newark is one of the largest in terms of population in the U.S., with nearly 1.3 million Catholics and 219 parishes. The Archdiocese is fighting a New Jersey law that makes it a crime to sell monuments, such as headstones, to their parishioners.
Under Red Wing, Minn.’s rental inspection ordinance, it is easier for the government to force its way into the homes of law-abiding citizens than it is to search the home of a suspected criminal. Robert and Rebecca joined a lawsuit to stop these unreasonable and intrusive inspections of their private residential properties.
Achan works in fear that Iowa will punish her for providing her services without a license. If she could braid without a license, she would reopen her salon, grow her business and better provide for her family.
Wendy trained as a makeup artist in Hollywood and has over 20 years of experience working with celebrities. But in Nevada, teaching others how to apply makeup without a government-issued license can subject you to up to $2,000 in fines.
After obtaining her private certifications in canine massage therapy, Grace started volunteering with rescue agencies and adoption events to provide canine massage for ailing and neglected dogs. She later turned her volunteer hobby into a business, which she named Pawsitive Touch.
When John tried to expand his cab business to Bowling Green, he was stymied by a city law that limited the number of taxis allowed in the city to only 16. Less than two months after he filed a lawsuit, Bowling Green repealed the cap.
IJ By the Numbers
4 Litigation Pillars
92% from individuals
8% from foundations
5 U.S. Supreme Court cases since 2002, including 4 victories
IJ is currently litigating43 cases in 26 states and Washington, D.C.