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Protect Your Rights, You Must Act Immediately!
2. Reasons to
Oppose SS SB 175
Accountability Utah Note: Download Fliers & Get More
To Protect Your Rights, You Must Act Immediately!
Contact your Representative and
Speaker Marty Stephens immediately, and urge him or her to
vote NO on
2nd Sub. S.B. 175 (SS SB 175). The vote may occur
as soon as 8 AM on Monday morning (March 1). To be effective,
your contact must be made in one or more of the following
1. Personal visit at Capitol or
at the Representative's home.
2. Phone call to the
Representative at his or her home today (Sunday) or at the
Capitol on Monday.
3. Fax to the Representative at
E-mail, though better than no
contact at all, may not be read, or may not be read until
after the vote has occurred. To maximize your impact, make
contact in person, by phone, or by fax!
To contact your House member and
Speaker Marty Stephens at the Capitol switchboard:
801-538-9505 (Democrat fax)
Obtain home phone numbers and addresses.\
[Accountability Utah note:
Find your representative or obtain additional contact information.]
See the bill status. Be sure to look for a possible third
Reasons to Oppose SS SB 175
The following reasons warrant
the NO vote of your Representative on SS SB 175:
process for consideration of SB 175 has been completely
The bill was crafted in
secrecy, behind closed doors, denying public input and
A law enacted by the people
with 69% of the vote demands the highest possible standards
for disclosure and public debate.
The bill was not released to
the public until the last possible moment.
The legislative committees in
the Senate and House denied meaningful public input to
consideration of the bill. The pro-confiscation position
was given hours of time, while opposing views were given
only minutes, insufficient to completely and publicly expose
and substantiate the massive corruption in S.B. 175.
amendments, reported in the Deseret News and Salt Lake
Tribune on Saturday, have not been posted on the legislative
web page for public review and analysis. Why?
With three days left in the
legislative session, there is insufficient time for full
review and consideration of amendments being made at this
for profit is wrong and has no acceptable place in the law.
If we don't allow our soldiers
to keep property they seize during war, IRS agents to keep
taxes they collect, and judges to receive a percentage of
fines they assess, we should most certainly not allow police
to have a financial incentive to unjustly take private
property. It is the job of the legislature, not the police,
to determine police agency budgets. Whether police fund
themselves directly, or create an appearance of oversight
through an intermediate step of funneling the money through
the CCJJ (as is proposed with SS SB 175, see lines 584-594),
the right of property owners to receive fair and impartial
justice is denied.
police and Attorney General should not be rewarded for
subverting and defying the intent of the law enacted through
Initiative B placed significant
restrictions on the transfer of seized property to the federal
government, and prohibited police agencies from receiving
proceeds from federally-forfeited property. Specifically, the
law states that its intent is to "protect innocent owners from
the wrongful taking of their property", such as might occur at
the federal level where property owners are presumed to be
guilty. (See Utah Code 24-1-2(3).) With SS SB 175, Utah's
police will be allowed to receive millions of dollars of
forfeiture proceeds from private property they directly or
cooperatively caused to be seized and confiscated by the
federal government. Because current state law requires that
forfeiture proceeds be deposited in the Uniform School Fund
and not into police agency budgets, the police and prosecutors
chose to have property forfeited under unjust federal
confiscation statutes, rather than utilizing state-level
forfeiture procedure as they could and should have done.
for profit creates incentive for criminals to be released or
prosecuted lightly, or for the innocent to be wrongly accused.
When police are able to profit
from seized property, they are given financial incentive to
reduce or eliminate criminal charges in exchange for the
criminal not contesting the forfeiture of seized property.
Even worse, because under the law a civil forfeiture action is
discontinued upon the owner's acquittal on criminal charges,
police are financially motivated to never file charges against
criminals in the first place. Another dangerous ramification
of profit-oriented policing is the incentive created for
innocent persons to be charged with a crime and their property
taken. The innocent person is then told as long as he doesn't
oppose the confiscation of his property, the charges (which
were of no substance to begin with) will be dropped.
5. Initiative B
has not affected the confiscation lobby's ability to fight
drugs and drug criminals.
According to Attorney General
Mark Shurtleff, the number of methamphetamine labs in Utah
have been cut in half since he took office (and Intiative B
See news article.
According to an editorial in
December by Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom,
there was a 22% increase in felony cases in Salt Lake City in
2003, including a "significant number of drug prosecutions".
See news article.
If there has been a failure to
aggressively pursue criminals or pursue legitimate forfeitures
under state law since the passage of Initiative B, the blame
must be placed squarely on Attorney General Shurtleff and
other law enforcement officials for failure to faithfully and
competently perform their jobs.
6. It is
unreasonable to expect compliance with the proposed oversight
and disclosures in SS SB 175, given that current disclosures
are not being timely provided by prosecutors and police.
Per correspondence I have had
with the State Auditor's office, it is unable to timely
complete the annual forfeiture audit that is required under
the law enacted by Initiative B. The difficulties are due to:
Failure of counties,
specifically Salt Lake and Utah, to timely respond to
requests from the Auditor's office.
The time taken to investigate
several significant problems and recommend changes in
response to them.
The elimination of auditor
positions, possibly as retaliation for the Auditor exposing
massive forfeiture abuses last year (read
the Auditor's letter).
If our Legislature was properly
doing its job, it would use its investigative power to
determine why the counties are not providing the Auditor's
office the information it requires, and the nature of the
significant problems the Auditor has discovered. Instead,
they are facilitating a cover-up by aggressively pushing SS SB
175, rendering the release of the audit report in April (after
the Legislative session) meaningless to changes in the law.
7. In total,
the changes made to Utah's forfeiture procedure by SS SB 175
harm innocent owners.
Even if Utah's police and
prosecutors were to be prohibited from directly or
cooperatively causing property to be seized and confiscated by
the federal government, the changes being made to the
state-level forfeiture procedure do not -- on the whole --
benefit innocent owners. For example:
Forfeited property is not
prohibited from being transferred, sold, or auctioned to
family members, relatives, and friends of police agency
members (see lines 347-348).
Hardship release of property
is prohibited if the property was misused prior to seizure,
even though the owner was not involved in or aware of the
misuse (see lines 370-371).
Greater opportunity to destroy
small businesses is provided by increasing the delay for a
hardship release from 10 to 20 days (see lines 381-383).
Property of limited value
seized from the poor may be sold prior to proof in a court
of law that the property is subject to forfeiture (see lines
A forfeiture is allowed to be
disproportional to the misuse of the property (see lines
438-441). That is, the punishment is allowed to exceed the
Forfeiture proceeds may be
funneled back to the seizing agency, after being laundered
by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ)
(see lines 584-594).
Forfeiture proceeds can be
used to obtain federal grants (see line 624) that can pay
for law enforcement salaries, deceptively contradicting a
prohibition against such use (see line 627).
Forfeiture proceeds are not
prohibited from being used for political purposes, such as
the hiring of lobbyists who will seek further destruction of
your rights with subsequent legislation (see lines 625-633).
Supposedly favorable amendments do not make SS SB 175
According to news stories
appearing yesterday in the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune
(see links below), amendments have been or are being prepared
to address the state's participation in unjust federal
forfeitures. These amendments do not provide an acceptable
basis for support of SS SB 175.
As noted in 1-7, there are
many reasons to oppose the bill beyond its current
provisions encouraging even more federal forfeitures.
Until the amendments are
disclosed to the public, it is unknown as to whether they
accomplish their stated objectives.
Until the state law is amended
to require the federal government to cede its authority to
perform forfeitures to the state as a condition of
participation in a joint investigation, the incentive and
method to perform forfeitures at the federal level will
remain even with the alleged improvements. An amendment
restricting joint investigations was not mentioned in the
news stories (see
Tribune article and
Accountability Utah Note: Download Fliers & Get
can view, download, and copy updated fliers against SB 175.
Visit our Volunteer Action Page
and make your neighbors aware of the threat to their rights
Also see yesterday's
Deseret News article article on the devious plans of
the confiscation cartel. Again, secret drafts in shady
backrooms are the tools for supplanting your citizens'
Title 18, Section
983, U.S. Code to which more innocent Utah citizens would
be subjected to under SB 175 S2:
- (d) Innocent Owner
- (1) An innocent owner's
interest in property shall not be forfeited under any civil
forfeiture statute. The claimant shall have the burden of
proving that the claimant is an innocent owner by a
preponderance of the evidence.
Nothing lacking in due process?
To be assumed guilty in America and to be forced to attempt to
prove one's innocence? Citizens were not idiots when
they passed Initiative B by 69 percent of Utah voters in 2000.
additional information, see the
Property Rights section of our Issues & Alerts page. See another
useful handout as
abuses do occur in Utah.
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