Judge Rules Albuquerque Civil Forfeiture Law Unconstitutional, Upholds Innocent Until Proven Guilty

It's about time.


In a landmark decision,
a federal court ruled that Albuquerque’s civil forfeiture program
“violates procedural due process” because it forced hundreds of property
owners to prove their own innocence. With his ruling spanning over 100
pages, Judge James Browning also found that the city’s “forfeiture
officials have an unconstitutional institutional incentive to prosecute
forfeiture cases,” since the program has “de facto power over its
spending…the more revenue it raises, the more revenue it can spend.”

Thanks to this incentive to police for profit, the city’s forfeiture
program “generated $11.8 million in revenue in the form of forfeitures,
settlements and fees,” between fiscal 2009 and 2016. The program was so
lucrative, revenues actually exceeded expenses for four of those years.

“Today’s ruling is a total victory for fairness, due process and
property owners everywhere,” said Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney at
the Institute for Justice, which litigated the case. “Together, these
rulings strike at the heart of the problem with civil forfeiture. We
will undoubtedly use this decision to attack civil forfeiture programs



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