Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tenaha becoming poster child for asset-forfeiture abuses

Last night when laying out Sen. John Whitmire's SB 1529 regulating asset forfeiture, House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Pete Gallego said he was sending a DVD to committee members with this story from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 about Tenaha, a small town in East Texas that allegedly decided ripping off drivers passing through town was easier than raising taxes.

Key to ending the practice in Tenaha, the legislation would forbid police or prosecutors from requesting, requiring, or in any manner inducing defendants to waive their property interests until a formal civil foreiture case has been filed in a district court. Hopefully that will at least slow down the highway robbery mentality that appears to have infected some Texas jurisdictions when it comes to asset forfiture.

See related Grits posts:


Ryan Paige said...

What's going on in places like Tenaha sure seems indefensible. I mean, if the police truly believed that the people they're dealing with are drug dealers and money launderers, why would they so easily agree to put them back on the street in exchange for some money?

So either they're knowingly taking money they know isn't contraband (the likely scenario) or they're knowingly letting drug dealers and money launderers go in exchange for a payoff to the city treasury.

Neither one of those sounds all that ethical, and I'm pretty sure if I suggested that second option as a possibility the next time I'm pulled over for something, there's going to be a bribery charge added.

FairPlay said...

The same thing was happening in Louisana a while back. Police here they were taking money from drivers and telling them the money was expected drug revenue, when there was no evidence of such. To get money back from seizures, you have to file in federal court. The police there assumed that most people would not attempt to file in federal court to get there cash back and they were right. Like in the Tenaha case, mostly minorites were being effected by this scam.

Anonymous said...

my dad was a small-town cop in the early 80s in rural Texas. I know he took alcohol from people he pulled over for DWI suspiscion, but I'm pretty sure he never took cash. The alcohol made it to the liquor cabinet at home, back before HIV and thoughts of such things. And I'm sure his supervisor told him to do it.

Anonymous said...

Texas has become a lawless State, or better, the State where each town has the right to do whatever they wish to anyone.

If you have not viewed the "You Tube", regarding Randy Kelton and his dealings with the unlawful and just outright mean ways some counties have of dealing with people who are arrested,you need to watch this. This is an eye opener and also the "You Tube", interview with the Duncanville City Councilman, who was arrested during a city council meeting for stating he was against a bill the mayor and some other members were attempting to pass. He was abused and treated horribly by the Duncanville police staff. Something has to be done in Texas, or just fire every police officer, close all jails and let the wild west begin again.

There is something very wrong with Texas laws, no one is watching and those who are supposed to be watching are either in with the crooks or just don't want to be involved.

When I read the District Attorney in Williamson Co. requires a person who gets a Deferred Adjudication to sign a waiver stating the DA can never be expunged, there is something wrong with this. Harris Co. is right there behind Williamson County and both are a disgrace and a shame to this State.

Legislator's now is the time for you to get your heads out of the sand and do the right thing or just continue to let each and every county do whatever they wish and soon, enough people will grow tired of the abuse and the backlash will become tremendous.

Anonymous said...

Tenaha is a small town with three traffic lights, and a heck of a lot of drug and illegal alien traffic. It is often used by trafficers as a side route to the HWY 59 corridor. It's an excellent place to set up a skimming operation. And, don't think for a minute that the bulk of the booty is going into the city treasury. This is in my neighborhood. I consider each one of the players involved to be of questionable character.

Informed Citizen said...

Anon 10:41 AM
Texas has become a land were laws that do not exist are enforced on facts that do not exist. While laws that do exist are NOT enforced on those who are employed at public expense.