Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions
Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.
This week, IJ launched the third edition of its landmark report on civil forfeiture, Policing for Profit. The report presents the largest ever collection of forfeiture data and updated grades for the civil forfeiture laws of each state, D.C. and the federal government, which together have forfeited at least $68.8 billion since 2000. It also includes a new analysis finding no increase in crime after New Mexico abolished civil forfeiture and the profit incentive in 2015. Click here to read more from ProPublica.
- State wiretapping laws often bar secret unconsented recordings, but Massachusetts goes a step further and prohibits such recordings even in public places. First Circuit: That violates the First Amendment as applied to recordings of police, as history shows such “newsgathering” plays a critical role in public debate and can be conducted without interfering in police work. But we can’t consider broader challenges to recordings of other government officials or other individuals without a reasonable expectation of privacy, as those challenges are overly hypothetical and not yet ripe.
- Armed robber robs Pittsburgh store precisely when its safes are most likely to be full; he also knows about second safe that few others did. Yikes! There’s no evidence that the man convicted of the crime in 2006 had inside knowledge of the store’s operations, nor is he ever connected to the getaway car. Third Circuit: The fact that his fingerprint was on a manila envelope the robber left behind and the fact that he didn’t match the robber’s description (but also wasn’t so far off that it necessarily excluded him) do not add up to proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Habeas granted.
- After seeing a drug dealer repeatedly enter and exit a woman’s house, Parma, Ohio police search the home and find over $68k in cash. Sixth Circuit: Because she did not present any evidence to substantiate her claim that she owns the money, she lacks Article III standing to challenge its forfeiture.
- Eagle Towing—a Michigan towing company—finds itself brusquely removed from the towing lists of two Michigan State Police posts. But neither of the post commanders complied with the department’s
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