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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

California is still plagued by occupation of federal property


A new case highlights the importance of California Landmark Assembly Bill 114, 1 then-Assemblyman John Burton (D-San Francisco), who severely restricts “confiscation of assets” by state and local government agents. Unfortunately, this has not affected federal agents operating under federal law.

The latest outcry was by federal agents in Beverly Hills against innocent Californians with safe deposit boxes in U.S. private vaults. Sept. 2 The Washington Investigator reports, “Armed with a warrant, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration agents spent five days removing hundreds of security deposit boxes from the walls and claiming its contents.”

Prosecutors allege the seized items and cash were income from illegal drug transactions. “The problem is that the federal authorities have taken things from people who have not been charged with a crime.

“They have been able to keep it because of the country’s vague standards of civil fraud law, which allow the government to confiscate property and assets without any actual evidence of criminal wrongdoing.”

This type of abuse of power by California law enforcement is much more difficult because of AB114. It was a “strange bedfellow” effort led by Burton, a Bay Area leftist, and Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach), a staunch Conservative and retired U.S. Marine Corps general.

Numerous cases of abuse of the Fourth Amendment led to the two sides concluding that “the right of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures, their right to be protected in their homes, papers and influences shall not be violated and no warrant shall be issued on the issue, but on probable cause.”

AB 114 still allows for confiscation, but only after the law prescribed by the Fourth Amendment has been convicted in court.

The abuse was that police agencies would “confiscate” a person’s property based on the weakest evidence, or no evidence. The property owner will then have to go to court to get the property back, which will require the appointment of an expensive lawyer.

Law enforcement has chosen it because it disqualifies “free” money or property in their budgets. I remember two incidents I wrote for the Orange County Register. One involved was Newport Beach Police Chief Arab Campbell, who, according to a 1992 report, was seen driving “a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL arrested in a local drug seizure.” He and others were fired for reluctance.

I reported another case about that time in the Orange County Register. A couple from Chino told me that the police had occupied the small apartment complex they owned because there were drug dealing allegations in one unit. They point out that they know nothing of the contract, can’t legally keep an eye on what the tenants are doing, and evict the tenant if they talk about the allegations. Their lawyers, and possibly my editorial, allowed the police to end the seizure, returning control of their property to them – this was due to years of negligence.

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A hoax of AB 114 is that it cannot do anything with the local police team with federal agents to seize property using federal law. I wrote about it in the 2014 registration editorial:

“Anaheim small business owner Tony Jalali did nothing wrong. He has no criminal record. Yet, the city of Anaheim and the federal government are trying to take his property using federal asset confiscation laws that do not require a court conviction.

“Jalali rented a space in his office building on Ball Road to two medical-marijuana dispensaries, despite federal officials objecting to the dispensary, even though California passed by voters in 1996 under Resolution 215 of California – medical marijuana legal state.… Sadly “Mr Jalili is an immigrant who fled the repressive government of Iran in search of a better life. It is unacceptable that he is now being tortured in the land of independence.”

Jalali won in court and got his property back.

His and similar lawsuits led to the passage of Senate Bill 443 in 2016, which was then signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Like AB 114, it was bipartisan, passed unanimously in the state senate and 69 to 7 in the legislature.

Unless convicted in a court of law, SB443 prohibits state or local entities from “transferring confiscated property under state law to a federal agency that claims to have seized the seized property … under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.”

But the new case in Beverly Hills shows that federal reform is needed more than ever. California now has a strong team in the federal government, including Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Sen. Diane Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff (D-Barbank). They could work with Liberal Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky to sponsor reforms such as California’s AB114 and SB443.

Hard work has reformed California and can do it nationally.


John Seeler is a veteran California opinion writer. He has been an editor at The Orange County Register for nearly 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former California State Press Secretary Sen. John Murlach. He blogs at [email protected]


This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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