Fishman Vows to Expose Civil Asset Forfeiture
http://www.auditmassachusetts.com -- 978.595.1396 -- Beverly, Massachusetts
For Immediate Release
At a campaign event on November 27, Candidate for State Auditor Dan Fishman called for an end to Massachusetts’ Civil Asset Forfeiture laws. “It’s time for the Commonwealth to stop stealing from its citizens. It’s time end civil asset forfeiture,” Fishman was quoted as saying.
Under the current rules of Civil Asset Forfeiture, the government is able to seize your assets even if they only have probable cause to believe you MAY have committed a crime. As reported by WBUR, the Institute for Justice, in its report Policing for Profit gave Massachusetts the worst grade of all the states, an F, for placing the burden of proof on the accused, despite every legal tradition since the Magna Carta, and in opposition to our cherished ideal of due process.
When asked what caused him to work to end Civil Asset Forfeiture, Fishman replied, “I read about the new proposed Massachusetts law in H1266 When did we lose our rights?”
H.1266, criminalizes the process of altering a vehicle with the intent of creating a hidden compartments, including hiding a spare key by taping it on the inside of your bumper. In each case the bill calls for a two-year mandatory minimum sentence, five years for subsequent offenses. The bill also allows police to seize any modified vehicle. The law goes on to state that merely having a "hidden" compartment shall be considered prima facie evidence of transporting controlled substances.
When Fishman takes office, will he be able to stop such abuses of power? Fishman sounded a more pessimistic, but ultimately realistic note. “As your auditor I will not have the power to stop civil asset forfeiture, but I will have the power to EXPOSE it. I will make sure that every month the auditor's office publishes an exact accounting of all the money the state takes in through civil asset forfeiture. When the public knows extent of the problem, they will act.”
Fishman got close to accusing the government of rank theft. “Because we are practically a one party state, the current Democratic auditor in Massachusetts will not touch this issue with a 10 foot pole. We need independent checks and balances.” Fishman continued “Imagine if you went to a football game and the referee was wearing one of the team’s colors.” Fishman spoke of his independence and service to the people of the Commonwealth, telling them, “Elect me to office so I can expose the theft committed in the name of the people of the Commonwealth against the people of the Commonwealth.”
Details on Mr Leonard's case are in Reason