Government Gone Wild

News Briefs

9

A Rotten Smell in Kansas

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in December that the police can search your home for whatever reason they wish. If an officer believes that he or she smells marijuana on a premises, the law allows the officer to search the premises immediately, sans warrant. The reasoning is that the police may get a whiff of reefer, but, the suspected doobage could be removed before a warrant can be secured and a righteous bust be lost.

The case which led to this nonsensical 4-3 decision in the Land of Oz is quite simply outrageous. Police officer Kimberly Nicholson followed Lawrence Hubbard home after mistaking him for someone with an arrest warrant. Hubbard came out of his apartment to clear up the misunderstanding, at which point officer Nicholson said she “smelled a strong odor of raw marijuana emanating from the apartment.” She testified she was standing about two feet from the front door, while Hubbard claimed it was more like six or seven feet.

It turned out that Hubbard had 25 grams (less than an ounce) of marijuana inside a sealed plastic container, which was inside a locked safe, which was inside a bedroom closet… about 30 feet from where officer Nicholson was standing.

Likely what the officer smelled was a cigarillo as Hubbard opened his door and confused the smell of burnt marijuana with the smell of “raw marijuana.” However, another officer vouched for Nicholson’s account. The officer’s burnt versus raw mistake is surprising given: “As part of her law enforcement training and while in her official capacity,” the trial judge noted, “Officer Nicholson has detected the smell of raw marijuana 200 to 500 times and burnt MJ 100 to 300 times.”

“We hold that the totality of the circumstances surrounding a law enforcement officer’s detection of the smell of raw marijuana emanating from a residence can supply probable cause to believe the residence contains contraband or evidence of a crime,” the Kansas Supremes ruled. “Such circumstances include, but are not limited to, proximity to the odor’s source, reported strength of the odor, experience identifying the odor, elimination of other possible sources of the odor, and the number of witnesses testifying to the odor’s presence. This is ultimately a case-by-case determination based on the circumstances. Not all cases relying on odor will have the same result.”

 

Far-Left Barcelona Mayor Gets Pound of Flesh From Church

Anyone who has visited Barcelona has probably seen the Sagrada Familia with endless scaffolding around the historic, spectacular and unfinished structure. The original building permit was issued in 1885. That’s right, 1885. the permit, issued by Sant Martí de Provençals was no longer valid when the town was absorbed into the city of Barcelona. Despite not having a valid permit, God’s work progressed for more than a century until the Trustees for the basilica made a deal with city hall to pay 36 million euros ($41 million) to bring the approvals up to snuff. The New York Times reports the permit can be paid “over 10 years to settle the dispute over the legality of the work and help pay for transportation improvements around the basilica.”

“Using the permit as leverage, the administration of Barcelona’s far-left mayor, Ada Colau, took on the Sagrada Familia, part of a trend of civil authorities around the country challenging the legal and tax status of Roman Catholic Church properties.”

 

Everything (Including Stealing) is Big in Texas

Police in Texas took $50 million via civil forfeitures during 2017 reports The Texas Tribune. Asset forfeiture is the scam wherein law enforcement contends assets are used in drug crimes and therefore can be confiscated with impunity. Many times, the owners of said assets are not charged with a crime, but their assets are lost to law enforcement. Owners must pay lawyers, go to court and prove their property is “innocent.” Good luck.

Lawmakers who, rightly, claim asset forfeiture is a property rights violation and attempt to pass laws outlawing the practice meet stiff opposition from law enforcement.

“We’re sitting here at the tip of the spear of cartel activity, and we need asset forfeiture as a tool,” Jackson County Sheriff A. J. “Andy” Louderback said. “It’s a viable tool that we’re not misusing. … There’s accountability in the system that’s been there for a very long time.”

“Many times in my law enforcement career, we could not have been effective in doing away with gangs, drug cartels and whatever without the civil asset forfeiture,” Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said during the only committee hearing held to discuss civil asset forfeiture bills in the 2017 legislative session. “Many times forfeiting civil assets is the only way you’re going to get to the kingpin of the operation.”

“In these cases, asset forfeiture is the key, or virtually the only, way to fight the criminals at the top of the organization,” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner told the Tribune.

Donald Trump and his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions have defended asset forfeiture. Trump told a Texas sheriff last year he could “destroy” the career of an unspecified Texas state senator who wanted to end the practice.

In Reeves County, Texas, which has fewer than 20,000 residents and straddles two West Texas highways, the value of seized assets was 15 times more than the local prosecutor’s annual budget, in 2012, according to a report funded by the Texas Office of Court Administration.

Funding law enforcement through taxation isn’t enough, police must steal to fill department piggy banks as well.

 

Under Uncle Sam’s Thumb

Each and every day, each and every one of us probably commits a federal crime. Charles Murray wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the number of federal crimes available to be violated in 2007 (the last year they were tallied) was about 4,450. That is a 50 percent increase since just 1980. A handful of those crimes are “malum in se”—bad in themselves. The rest are “malum prohibitum”— crimes because the government disapproves.

The fact is it takes a lawyer to figure if something is a crime. Consider laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley (30,470 words), the Affordable Care Act (400,038 words) or Dodd-Frank (377,491 words). I doubt your lawyer has these memorized.

“If a regulatory agency comes after you, forget about juries, proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, disinterested judges and other rights that are part of due process in ordinary courts,” writes Murray. “The ‘administrative courts’ through which the regulatory agencies impose their will are run by the regulatory agencies themselves.” FYI bankers, the FDIC operates this way.

This would be like a police department making up its own laws, employ its own prosecutors, judges and courts of appeals.

Harvey A. Silverglate, in his book “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent” writes, “doctors, accountants, businessmen, political activists, and others–have found themselves targets of federal prosecutors, despite sensibly believing they did nothing wrong, broke no laws, and harmed not a single person. In these wheels of injustice, vague laws are the lynchpin, functioning in very much the opposite way than originally intended: they obscure, rather than clarify, the law’s demand.”

 

That Crazy California Legislature

Are you dreaming of California sunshine, the beautiful beaches, the majestic mountains? Remember, there’s those lawmakers meeting every year in Sacramento. The People’s Republic of California is always looking for money, in a way George Harrison sang about the British government in “Tax Man.” As the verse goes, “one for you, nineteen for me, cause I’m the taxman.”

So, the latest bright idea coming out of Sacramento is to tax…wait for it…tweets! In case you think I made this up, the California Political Review reported in December, “A California regulator’s plan to tax texts in order to fund cellphones for the poor hit a snag Wednesday after a Federal Communications Commission ruled text messages aren’t subject to the utility agency’s authority.”

Don’t think this is over, hell hath no fury like a tax hungry politician scorned.

LW

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