California Civil Asset Forfeiture: Origins, Evolution, and Reform

By: Zachariah J. Oquenda, CMC ’16

Beginning with Exodus and evolving into its much more complex modern form, civil forfeiture law has existed in a variety of shades of muddled legal gray area for millennia. Today, in U.S. jurisprudence, asset forfeiture comprises a two-track legal system.[i] In one track, a criminal forfeiture proceeding is brought in personam (“against the owner”).[ii] In these cases, the owner is charged with a crime, and forfeitures require a criminal conviction. The alternative track is a civil forfeiture proceeding, which is brought in rem (“against a thing”), alleging that an inanimate piece of property can be “guilty” of a crime.[iii] But those pieces of property do not have agency, so it is the owner who suffers from the civil forfeiture case. Of course, the “thing” is alleged to be the instrument of the wrong, meaning that some human actor (usually the owner) was ultimately responsible for implicating that “thing” in a wrongdoing.

Nevertheless, law enforcement does not have to actually prove that the owner did anything wrong; instead, it needs mere probable cause that the “thing” was involved in a crime. The consequences of such a legal creation are immediately concerning. Civil proceedings lack the constitutionally required procedural protections of criminal proceedings. Thus, when government officials seize and attempt to forfeit property, procedural rights, like the right to an attorney, the right to fair and speedy trial, and the right to due process, are thrown out the window.[iv] Civil proceedings often result in an unfair burden on the owner, who is often neither charged nor convicted of any crime, to prove his or her property innocent. This is far from the standard of proof of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which we require the prosecution to prove in criminal proceedings.

California has a toxic relationship with civil asset forfeiture. Each year seems worse than the last. As recent as this September, California State Legislature voted down Senator Holly Mitchell’s S.B. 443, which would have overhauled the state civil forfeiture law in order to bolster civil rights protections and close access to dangerous federal loopholes that state and local law enforcement often abuse. To be sure, S.B. 443 would have been an improvement. But what would it take to make California a model State concerning asset forfeiture?

Origins and Evolution

While asset-forfeiture law has a long history in the U.S., stretching as far back as pre-Revolutionary War, many attribute the foundation of current U.S. civil forfeiture law both to President Richard Nixon launching his campaign for the “War on Drugs” in 1969 and Congress’s subsequent legislative action, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act (CDAPCA) of 1970.[v] The CDAPCA introduced civil asset forfeiture as a tool that law enforcement could use to combat drug trafficking. A strong enforcer of asset forfeiture, the FBI states the following:

The use of asset forfeiture in criminal investigations aims to undermine the economic infrastructure of the criminal enterprise…Asset forfeiture can remove the tools, equipment, cash flow, profit, and, sometimes, the product itself, from the criminals and the criminal organization, rendering the criminal organization powerless to operate.[vi]

The government was looking at criminal organizations in the same way it saw legitimate businesses. If a baker loses his or her shop, ovens, cooking supplies, flour, trucks, etc., then that baker can no longer operate his or her business. Take the baking supplies, and bakers cannot bake. Similarly, take the drug manufacturing supplies, and drug manufacturers cannot make drugs.

In 1984, Congress amended the CDAPCA with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act (CCCA), which aimed to expand the “trumpeted success of civil forfeiture” by moving civil forfeiture proceeds from the General Fund to the Assets Forfeiture Fund, authorizing financial support to law enforcement to enhance the size and scope of seizure operations.[vii]

To expand the practice of civil forfeiture meant to include state and local law enforcement in more direct ways. According to the FBI, incentivizing local and state law enforcement to cooperate was important to “ensure that asset forfeiture is incorporated into as many investigations as possible, where appropriate and allowed by law, to deter criminal activity and dismantle criminal enterprises.”[viii] President Reagan was convinced that the drug problem was a “national security threat,” and to shut down drug operations and networks, law enforcement had to target the means of production for drug dealers. The Reagan administration saw civil forfeiture as a tool to achieve a “drug-free America.”[ix] Given the size and scope of that aim, the federal government needed both state and local governments as allies in scaling a nation-wide attack against drug crime[x] and needed the state and local law enforcement involved to form a greater force against drug dealers.

The Equitable Sharing Program (as part of the CCCA) bridged the gaps between federal, state, and local agencies in civil forfeiture regulations and requirements, and it provided that state and local law enforcement could share in the proceeds that they secured for the federal government. Equitable Sharing created an unprecedented link between local and state law enforcement budgets and the amount of seizures and forfeitures those governments acquired. This link is effectively a finder’s fee for state and local governments. When state and local authorities located or seized forfeitable property, they could call in a federal agency, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the federal agency may either “adopt” the seizure or cooperate in a “joint investigation” with local authorities.[xi] In both scenarios, the federal government would share large portions of the proceeds (between 60 and 100 percent) of the forfeiture with state and local agencies for seizing property. When the CCCA created the Asset Forfeiture Fund, lawmakers both capped the amount of forfeiture proceeds so that law enforcement could use at $5 million and limited the uses of those proceeds mostly to pay for administrative expenses and restoration of property to victims of white-collar crimes.[xii] Further amendments removed this cap and permitted a longer list of uses for the Asset Forfeiture Fund, including, but not limited to, purchasing vehicles, equipment, offices supplies, and even paying overtime salaries.[xiii] Lee McGrath, a Managing Attorney for the Institute for Justice and proponent of civil forfeiture reform, wrote in one email, “[F]ederal forfeiture laws create a perverse financial incentive that thrive[s] on maximizing the seizure of forfeitable property.”[xiv] He agrees that going so far as to pay overtime salaries is extremely problematic. On his view, using forfeiture funds to pay for anything more than the cost to reimburse law enforcement for seizing and forfeiting property invites a conflict of interest.

While this process of forfeiting property is perceived to be more useful in bringing down hard-to-catch, high-level drug cartels and money launderers, under closer scrutiny, some suggest that forfeiture is proportionally used more often against “low-level offenders or ordinary individuals.”[xv] Some exceptional civil forfeiture cases achieved these noble intentions. In one case, law enforcement employed civil forfeiture to seize equipment used to distribute child pornography.[xvi] In another example, federal government was able to seize and forfeit $404 million from Deutsche Bank, which was providing “fraudulent tax shelters.”[xvii]

Despite these big-time success stories, however, average forfeiture pales in comparison. For example, according to one study by the Drug Policy Alliance, California’s average forfeiture value in 2013 was $5,145.[xviii] In fact, in 1992, just under 95 percent of all California state forfeitures were valued at no more than $5,000.[xix] These low monetary values suggest that a disproportionate amount of the seizure and forfeiture of property targets nearly everything except large drug operations.

Many state and local law enforcement agencies are incentivized to abuse their power because most people cannot afford to file civil suit to get their property back. Combine this sense of limited accountability on police power to seize property with an unchecked discretion for law enforcement to spend the funds from civil forfeiture on, in some cases, anything from “flashy cars, to concert tickets, to popcorn machines” [xx] and it may be reasonable to believe that unchecked civil forfeiture practices are promoting perverse incentives for unaccountable law enforcement. For example, according to auditors in Montgomery County, TX found that money from the District Attorney’s civil forfeiture account was used to purchase tequila, rum, kegs, and a margarita machine for an office event.[xxi]

Unfortunately, little has been done to improve oversight in most States around the country. There have been reforms since 1984, such as the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) in 2000, but such amendments have done little to quell the financial incentives that are leading to police abuse and corruption in local counties and municipalities.[xxii]

California’s Road to Reform

Much of the issues perpetuated under federal law have led some States, such as Minnesota, Maine, North Dakota, and Vermont, to adopt strict regulations aimed at protecting their citizens from abuse.[xxiii] California also has been one of the more progressive States in terms of placing strict regulations on use of civil forfeiture funds, but, like many other States, seeing the revenue gains from forfeiture proceeds (increasing from $27 million in 1985 to $556 million in 1993), California, too, wanted a piece of the pie. After all, civil forfeiture provided a new source of funds that could help mitigate fiscal crises and pay for new development programs, all in the name of thwarting criminals.[xxiv] California passed the Comprehensive Forfeiture Act (CFA) in 1989, which accomplished tightening some restrictions while enabling California to profit.[xxv]

The CFA was California’s first statewide civil forfeiture program. Before the CFA, California law operated under only the criminal forfeiture track. If the owner of the property were acquitted, the property would be released to its owner. The CFA lifted this criminal forfeiture restriction, instead opting for the financial rewards of civil asset forfeiture.[xxvi] The CFA was in effect for nearly four years before some members of the California Legislature attempted to reform civil forfeiture law. According to a 1993 article by Gary Webb of the Mercury News Sacramento Bureau, California was “stung by evidence of widespread abuse…[For] four years [asset-forfeiture law] has allowed police to take money and property from people who were merely suspected of dealing drugs.”[xxvii] In the same story, Webb pointed to the 1992 killing of Donald Scott in Ventura County as the “prime example” of law enforcement gone awry.[xxviii] In that case, Federal agencies suspected that Scott was dealing drugs from his 200-acre property, and with a team of thirty officers (and the authority of the federal equitable sharing laws), they raided the millionaire’s home and killed him. They never found any traces of drugs on his property.[xxix]

As a result of the public outrage, California Assembly Member John Burton introduced A.B. No. 114 in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on April 15, 1993; the purpose of the bill was “to ensure that people’s property rights, and due process rights, are protected.”[xxx] The debate in 1993 raised three questions that parallel the debate over forfeiture reform in 2015: (1) whether a criminal conviction ought to be required, (2) whether law enforcement and prosecutors ought to be allowed to seize and forfeit property of innocent third parties, and (3) whether the distribution of forfeiture funds to budgets of law enforcement and prosecutors creates a financial conflict of interest, especially those transfers from federal agencies to state and local agencies pursuant to equitable sharing laws.

Fast-forward through other reform efforts: A.B. No. 639 (Norby) in 2012, which died in Senate Appropriations, and S.B. No. 1866 (Vasconcellos) in 2000, which was vetoed by Governor Gray Davis. On February 25, 2015, California State Senator Holly Mitchell mustered the political support to introduce the most recent forfeiture reform measure, S.B. No. 443, titled “Forfeiture: controlled substances.” S.B. No. 443 made it through both houses, but was called to the inactive file in the assembly in the last days of legislative session. Even if the bill did pass the assembly’s final floor vote, it would have had to get passed Governor Brown’s desk—a formidable task seeing as the Governor is usually fiscally conservative and S.B. No. 443 was projected to result in “unquantifiable revenue loss, in the millions, to state and local agencies” according to the Legislature’s most recent bill analysis.

Most of the costs of Mitchell’s bill come from the added measures to address “punishment without conviction, the profit motive, [and] equitable sharing.” [xxxi] S.B. No. 443 also extends a right to counsel for civil defendants and improves methods of reporting seizure and forfeiture transfers between agencies of all levels of government. All of these reforms are important, but what is the priority? Perhaps, more importantly, what ought to be the priority?

For starters, S.B. No. 443 would have reinstated a criminal conviction requirement for forfeitures both over and under $25,000, both of which aim address the problem of seizing and forfeiting the property of innocent third parties and improve procedural and substantive due process protections. Unfortunately, we cannot overestimate the benefits of requiring a criminal conviction. Under current California law, law enforcement can forfeit someone’s property at a value over $25,000 without conviction. If that property is under $25,000, it requires either a) a criminal conviction prior to forfeiture or b) in the case that the property owner failed to file a claim–which happens often among indigent people–the property is forfeited automatically.[xxxii] A recent report by the Drug Policy Alliance cites cities all over California that are seeing record profits through forfeiture law loopholes. Cities such as Oakland and Bakersfield have netted $2,281,597 and $571,796, respectively, in forfeiture proceedings.[xxxiii] Other cities toward the southern end of the state have profited at even higher margins, such as Long Beach, which raked in $4,410,910, and Pomona, a much less populated city, which saw disproportionately high profits of over $14.3 million in 2013.[xxxiv] Most, if not all, of these figures result from the equitable sharing loophole. Instituting criminal requirements for forfeiture does not mean these numbers will decrease. To the contrary, a study by the Institute for Justice has found that the more restrictive state regulations are the more those States’ law enforcement will circumvent those regulations, relying on more profitable, more generous equitable sharing.[xxxv]

To target this glaring hole in the law, Mitchell’s bill restricts the financial incentives of state and local law enforcement by prohibiting federal “adoption” of seized property. To the same end, S.B. No. 443 requires that any forfeiture proceedings otherwise obtained, such as through “joint investigation,” shall only be apportioned and distributed according to the new California forfeiture funding formula. Federal equitable sharing laws currently allow for California state and local law enforcement to receive 80 percent of proceeds of federally forfeited property,[xxxvi] as opposed to 65 percent that they receive from state and local forfeiture proceeds. For this reason, many state and local law enforcement agencies opt to pass on the seizure to federal authorities, so they may profit more from the resulting forfeiture.

Mitchell’s office urges that eliminating the equitable sharing loophole is the most important issue addressed in the bill.[xxxvii] While there is no doubt that the equitable sharing loophole is a very important problem in forfeiture law, arguably, it is the consequences of equitable sharing that ought to concern lawmakers more. It is not necessarily problematic that state and local agencies are working together with federal agencies to fight drug crime; concerted efforts between governments can be a good thing. Those various levels of governments working together only become problematic when equitable sharing creates a profit motive.

To be clear, eliminating a federal adoption policy under S.B. No. 443 would remove some of the profit incentive. As stated above, state and local law enforcement would be entitled to only 65 percent instead of 80 percent of the forfeiture proceeds. Though this may seem like an improvement, this minor reduction in potential absolute profits changes little in terms of a law enforcement agencies’ dependency on forfeiture funds for balancing their budgets. The upside, on the other hand, to eliminating federal adoption and tightening up the joint investigation distributions is that these improvements force all forfeiture proceeds that California receives, from federal or state forfeitures, to be distributed identically. This in turn dilutes the incentive for appealing to federal laws for abuse–at least in terms of absolute profits.

As an example, consider this basic economic accounting. Profits are measured as total revenue minus total cost. Thus, whatever forfeiture funds are left over after paying the cost to law enforcement to seize, forfeit, and auction off the property is the profit. Like any firm in a competitive market, that firm aims to make a profit. Profit is the firm’s incentive to supply goods or services. The higher the potential profit, the harder the firm will work to increase their supply. In the case of law enforcement and prosecutors, the profit incentive is forfeiture funds, and the service is seizing and forfeiting. As with any other firm, the higher the profit incentive, the harder they are willing to work to seize and forfeit property.

Given the reduction in absolute profits, there would be fewer incentives; however, it unfortunately does not completely eradicate the profit motive. State and local law enforcement agencies still have a profit incentive to work in joint investigations with federal agencies, because even though they would receive the same absolute forfeiture proceeds (65 percent with or without federal sharing), under more lenient federal forfeiture laws, state and local law enforcement would be able to forfeit more property overall. If law enforcement agencies forfeit more property overall, then law enforcement agencies’ 65 percent stake in the business increases in absolute value: 65 percent of $80 million is greater than 65 percent of $30 million.[xxxviii]

So how might California lawmakers address this problem? One solution to this problem is to reconfigure the California forfeiture funding formula. Under S.B. No. 443, California would redistribute funds through the forfeiture funding formula: from 65 percent to law enforcement down to 60 percent, from 10 percent to prosecutors down to 5 percent, from 24 percent to the General Fund down to 20 percent, and from 1 percent for ethics training to zero.[xxxix] S.B. No. 44 allocates the remaining funds to create a new Judicial Asset Forfeiture Fund and to beef up the public defender’s offices. These moves hardly solve the problem, however. If lawmakers really want to quash the troubling profit motives involved in equitable sharing (even granted the elimination of federal adoption methods and the tightening of joint investigation distributions, as enumerated in S.B. No. 443), then lawmakers need to move substantially more funds, if not all, outside the bounds of law enforcement and prosecutors’ discretion. One scholar, Karis Ann-Yu Chi, posits that the best distribution scheme would be to take all of the profits out of the forfeiture funds and divert them toward public education.[xl] This seems politically more tenable, given (a) that it takes focus away from the “tough on crime” versus “soft on crime” dichotomy, which in California’s history has been the death of forfeiture reform, and (b) that it motivates and strengthens education interest groups.[xli] Alternatively, funds could be diverted toward improving and expanding drug intervention and rehabilitation programs. Funding programs like these align with the intention of asset forfeiture and could have added benefits that the current brute force strategy could desperately use.

But even with bipartisan issues such as funding education or addressing drug abuse, opposition to efforts to reform asset forfeiture law runs deep in California. While some of the opposition to S.B. No. 443 potentially includes the Police Chiefs’ Association, the California Narcotics Officers’ Association (CNOA),[xlii] and California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has officially come out in opposition.[xliii] Most opposition to S.B. No. 443 is likely to argue that “forfeiture is an effective mode of crime control” and that removing civil forfeiture from law enforcement agencies’ toolboxes will limit their ability to effectively police drug crime.[xliv] This is based on the idea that seizing the means of production of drugs is more effective in demonstrating to criminals that “crime doesn’t pay.”[xlv] According to most updated bill analysis, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office makes just this argument: “SB 443 reduces the amount of forfeited assets that may be distributed to law enforcement and prosecutors, thus hurting our ability to fund future anti-drug efforts. Loss of these funds could make it difficult to investigate and prosecute major illicit drug operations in California.”[xlvi]

The problem is that this charge doesn’t have any basis in reality. As criminologist John Worrall of the Department of Justice says, “Unfortunately, not a single published study has linked forfeiture activities to the prevalence of criminal activity.”[xlvii] In other words, there is no evidence from federal, state, or local sources that civil forfeiture is effective to any measurable degree in combating illicit drug trade. Simply measuring the size of forfeiture proceeds does not provide an accurate account of stopping the drug trade. When more than 80 percent of forfeitures do not carry criminal convictions, and thus cannot firmly be connected to drug criminals, how can any study posit that forfeiture is thwarting drug criminals?

The second argument that opposition to forfeiture reform has made in the past and is expected to make against S.B. No. 443 is that ending civil forfeiture would damage police budgets. Indeed, Michael Van Den Berg, argues, “[A]ny major drawdown of forfeiture could cripple other important law enforcement efforts.”[xlviii] This is less of a counter-argument than it is a demonstration of the size and scope of the problem. Acknowledging that state and local law enforcement agencies’ budgets are so dependent on civil forfeiture funds that removing those funds would cripple their ability to function shows how deep the profit motive extends. Law enforcement provides necessary public services, so if it is true that budgets are so strongly dependent on forfeiture proceeds, lawmakers have a serious problem.[xlix] If lawmakers are serious about eliminating the profit motive from forfeiture law, they need to eliminate the link between law enforcement budgets and amount of seizures and forfeitures. One solution for lawmakers would be to divert most of the funds–say 65 percent of the funds, which equals the combined total that law enforcement and prosecutors will receive under S.B. No. 443–to the General Fund. Then legislators could allocate money to state and local law enforcement based on need alone.

S.B. No. 443 would reduce the total proportion of forfeiture funds that law enforcement could receive from joint investigations with federal agencies down to 45 percent. Assume that California lawmakers, instead of allowing 45 percent of forfeiture funds to just automatically be allocated to state and local agencies who contributed to federal joint investigations, decided to allocate all forfeiture proceeds, either federal or state, to the General Fund, eliminating the direct link between state and local law enforcement budgets and forfeiture proceeds. Note that eliminating the direct link, however, does not necessarily limit the indirect ways through which law enforcement budgets may still be profiting. In this example, California lawmakers could decide to appropriate 45 percent of all forfeiture proceedings to state and local law enforcement agencies, or it might not. Seeing as that amount is conceivably greater than what is needed to reimburse the overhead costs for law enforcement to seize and forfeit, state and local law enforcement could still profit. The point is that even without the direct link and automatic allocation of funds to state and local agencies, such state and local law enforcement agencies could still profit. As long as state and local law enforcement are receiving more than the total cost of their seizing and forfeiting, they will be profiting. And as long as there is profit, there is potential for abuse.

Recommendations

To recap, the most concerning consequences of civil forfeiture as discussed in this article are 1) the idea of punishing property owners by seizing and forfeiting their property without any criminal convictions; 2) the degree to which profit motive exists in law enforcement agencies that rely on civil forfeiture proceeds to balance their budget; and 3) the leniency of federal laws that perpetuate profit motives even when States create strong restrictions on forfeiture fund allocations.

Key to addressing these concerns is eliminating the direct link between civil asset forfeiture proceeds and law enforcement budgets. This article proposes a three-pronged solution to address these problems. First, permit forfeiture only within the criminal track to restore citizens’ rights to due process and to court-appointed attorneys. Strengthening these procedural protections weakens the potential for citizens to be subject to abuse. In tandem with improving reporting measures for seizures and forfeitures, just as S.B. No. 443 does, lawmakers ought to require that state and local law enforcement and prosecutors produce annual auditable reports measuring the operating costs of seizing and forfeiting. Then, cap forfeiture fund appropriations, with annual readjustments at that amount. This would permanently sever the profit motive, as the budget would essentially be providing a strict reimbursement and nothing more. Third, require all forfeiture funds, from both federal sharing and from state and local seizures and forfeitures, to be subject to the same capping restrictions for in-state allocation. These last two restrictions would ensure improved constitutional and procedural protections, while effectively eliminating the “perverse” financial incentives that drive much of the abuse in California. With the right reporting mechanisms, this system would limit false reporting. Lawmakers could subject law enforcement to random audits each year, which would deter false reporting.

Ideally, California would be another domino that could lead to more and more States adopting similar reforms, ultimately, creating enough national backing to spur lasting federal reform. At the present rate of states adopting reform, such as the most recent reform in Michigan, federal reform is on the horizon.[l] Without that lasting federal reform, not only will drug operations of high-level crime syndicates but the property of ordinary citizens across the U.S. will be targeted and forfeited with little or no constitutional or procedural protections. Any system that allows such targeting and abuse by law enforcement is not a system that truly protects and serves the people.

____________________

[i] Lee U. McGrath, Managing Attorney to Institute for Justice, telephone interview with author, April 22, 2015.

[ii] Lee U. McGrath, e-mail message to author, April 22, 2015.

[iii] Karis Ann-Yu Chi, Follow the Money: Getting to the Root of the Problem with Civil Asset Forfeiture in California, 90 Cal. L. Rev., (2002), 1639.

[iv] Ibid., 1640.

[v] Ibid., 1638; Michael Van Den Berg, Proposing a Transactional Approach to Civil Forfeiture Reform, 163 Univ. of Penn. L. Rev. (2015), 875.

[vi] Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). “White-Collar Crime: Asset Forfeiture.” Accessed April 25, 2015. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/asset-forfeiture.

[vii] Berg, Proposing a Transactional Approach, 876.

[viii] FBI, “White-Collar Crime,” 1.

[ix] Jonah Engle, “Above the Law: An investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture in California,” The Drug Policy Alliance, (April 21, 2015), 12. http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Drug_Policy_Alliance_Above_the_Law_Civil_Asset_Forfeiture_in_California.pdf.

[x] Engle, “Above the Law,” 12.

[xi] Berg, Proposing a Transactional Approach, 883.

[xii] FBI, “White-Collar Crime,” 1-2.

[xiii] Lee U. McGrath, e-mail message to author, April 22, 2015.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Marian R. Williams, Jefferson E. Holcomb, and Tomislav V. Kovandzic, “Part 1: Policing for Profit,” Institute for Justice, March 2010, accessed April 25, 2015, 8-9. http://www.ij.org/part-i-policing-for-profit-2.

[xvi] Berg, Proposing a Transactional Approach, 885.

[xvii] Ibid., 886.

[xviii] Engle, “Above the Law,” 16.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Berg, Proposing a Transactional Approach, 906.

[xxi] Renée C. Lee, “Montgomery DA says funds used for liquor at cook-off,” Chron, (March 18, 2008). http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/humble-news/article/Montgomery-DA-says-funds-used-for-liquor-at-1757341.php.

[xxii] Engle, “Above the Law,” 16.

[xxiii] Minnesota State Legislature, SF 874, 2nd Engrossment, 88th Legislature, (2013 – 2014), posted on May 12, 2014, https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF874&version=2&session=ls88&session_year=2013&session_number=0; John Malcolm, “Civil Asset Forfeiture: Good Intentions Gone Awry and the Need for Reform,” The Heritage Foundation, (April 20, 2015), http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/04/civil-asset-forfeiture-good-intentions-gone-awry-and-the-need-for-reform.

[xxiv] Sarah Stillman, “Taken,” The New Yorker, August 12, 2013, accessed on April 27, 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/08/12/taken.

[xxv] Chi, Follow the Money, 1649-50.

[xxvi] Ibid., 1649.

[xxvii] Gary Webb, “Lawmakers Revoke Cops’ Asset-seizing Powers Widespread Abuse Leads Legislature to Let the Law Revert to 1988 Rules, which require a Conviction,” Mercury News Sacramento Bureau, September 11, 1993, 1. http://nl.newsbank.com.

[xxviii] Ibid., 3.

[xxix] Engle, “Above the Law,” 15.

[xxx] California Legislative Information, Assembly Committee on Public Safety, Bill Analysis of AB 114 as amended April 1, 1993, date of hearing, April 20, 1993, accessed on May 4, 2015. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/93-94/bill/asm/ab_0101-0150/ab_114_cfa_930419_111358_asm_comm.

[xxxi] Engle, “Above the Law,” 16.

[xxxii] Health & Safety Code Section 11488.4, subd. (j).

[xxxiii] Engle, “Above the Law,” 22.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv] Williams et al., Policing for Profit, 10.

[xxxvi] Ibid., 4-5; 21 U.S.C. Section 881 (e).

[xxxvii] Elise Gyore, phone interview with author, April 24, 2015.

[xxxviii] California Legislative Information, Senate Committee on Public Safety, Bill Analysis of SB 443 (Mitchell) as amended April 6, 2015, date of hearing, April 21, 2015, accessed on May 4, 2015. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/15-16/bill/sen/sb_0401-0450/sb_443_cfa_20150420_111009_sen_comm.html.

[xxxix] Cal. Health & Safety Code Sect. 11489, subd. (b).

[xl] Chi, Follow the Money, 1665.

[xli] Ibid., 1666.

[xlii] John Lovell, Legislative Representative of California Narcotics Officers’ Association, phone interview with author, April 25, 2015.

[xliii] California Legislative Information, Senate Committee on Public Safety, Bill Analysis of SB 443 (Mitchell) as amended April 6, 2015, date of hearing, April 21, 2015, accessed on May 4, 2015. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/15-16/bill/sen/sb_0401-0450/sb_443_cfa_20150420_111009_sen_comm.html.

[xliv] Berg, Proposing a Transactional Approach, 890.

[xlv] Ibid., 891.

[xlvi] California Legislative Information, Assembly Committee on Appropriations, Bill Analysis of SB 443 (Mitchell) as amended August 18, 2015, dahttp://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billAnalysisClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB443.

[xlvii] Engle, “Above the Law,” 12; quoting Worrall, John, Asset Forfeiture, Problem-Oriented Guides for Police, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services U.S. Department of Justice, November 2008. http://www.popcenter.org/Responses/asset_forfeiture/print/.

[xlviii] Berg, Proposing a Transactional Approach, 911.

[xlix] Ibid.; citing Williams et al., supra note 19, at 12 as “(reporting that forty percent of police departments depend on forfeiture to meet budgeting shortfalls).”

[l] Jonathan Oosting, “Snyder signs Michigan civil asset forfeiture laws requiring more transparency, evidence,” MLive, (October 21, 2015), http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2015/10/snyder_signs_michigan_civil_as.html.

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