MIAMI—El 11 de mayo de 2015, Miladis Salgado regresó a su casa y descubrió que su vida tuvo un giro inesperado. Mientras ella estaba trabajando, la policía ingresó a su casa y confiscó sus ahorros de toda la vida—$15.000 en efectivo que ella estaba ahorrando para la quinceañera de su hija—a partir de información de…
Late yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill (A4970) that will require a criminal conviction before civil forfeiture. Unlike criminal forfeiture, civil forfeiture typically allows the government to take and keep property without charging anyone with a crime. Thanks to the governor’s signature, New Jersey is now the 16th state with a conviction prerequisite to…
If you tell police they can go into your home, does that mean they can also legally stand outside and pepper it with shotgun-fired tear gas grenades—destroying everything inside? That is the question asked by a petition to the Supreme Court of the United States filed today by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf…
PITTSBURGH—Terry Rolin’s life savings of $82,373 were seized by the federal government even though he has not been charged with any crime. In fact, his daughter was doing something completely legal—flying domestically with cash—when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized the money in August 2019 at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Today, Terry and his daughter…
Pottstown, Penn.—This morning, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion vacating and remanding a lower court’s ruling in favor of Pottstown in a lawsuit challenging the borough’s rental inspection ordinance. This law allows the borough to enter residents’ homes without cause and without the residents’ consent. The Court also reversed the trial court’s orders…
The New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed a bill late Monday that would shine a light on “civil forfeiture,” which lets law enforcement seize property without ever charging the owner with a crime. In New Jersey, once property is forfeited, the government can then keep up to 100% of the proceeds, creating a perverse incentive to…
PHILADELPHIA—Today, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied the Cosmetology Board’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two Philadelphia-area women who want to end an unconstitutional requirement that stands in the way of their careers. The Board used Courtney Haveman’s and Amanda Spillane’s past legal problems to deny them the right…
Hilda Brucker was sitting at home one day working her job as a freelance writer. The phone rang, she answered, and was told by a hostile voice that if she didn’t come down to the courthouse at once she would be given a failure to appear violation. She hastily complied. When she got there, she found out that the city had issued a citation, although it had never told her about it. She later learned the citation stated she was charged with (1) “Rotted wood on house and chipping paint on fascia boards”; (2) “High weeds in backyard and ivy on tree and vines on house”; and (3) “Driveway in a state of disrepair.” Not knowing what to do, Hilda pled guilty to the driveway charge, while the other two were dismissed. She paid a fine of $100 and was sentenced to six months probation, where she had to report to a probation officer, avoid alcoholic intoxication, and cooperate “with code enforcement upon request.” She later hired an attorney who filed a motion to vacate her sentence, but the motion was continued several times, eventually being granted only after her six-month probation would have already ended. She also obtained a home equity line of credit in case she needed to pay for any of the fixes that the city nebulously demanded.
Mark owns the Metro Marathon service station in Sterling Heights, Mich., which has been in the family for 40 years. But in 2013, the IRS seized over $70,000, even though Mark violated no law.
Growing up in the Ivory Coast, Lynn Schofield learned to braid from her family. When Lynn moved to Louisiana, she opened her own braiding salon that once had more than 20 employees. But that all changed in 2003, when the Board began requiring braiders to obtain a license.
Dr. Mark Baumel, of Colon Health Centers for America, wants to increase the rate of screening for colon cancers. But when Dr. Baumel and his partners sought Virginia’s permission to buy new CT scanners, it denied them a “certificate of need.”
Korver Ear Nose and Throat LLC owns a recently constructed medical facility in Orange City, Iowa. It would like to convert the lower level of this facility into an outpatient surgery center, but does not want to incur the enormous time, expense, and uncertainty of going through the certificate of need process, only to be denied because of its competitor’s opposition.
Arlene Harjo entered the world of civil forfeiture in April 2016, when her son, Tino, was arrested while driving her two-year-old Nissan Versa.
Liz has seven children, three of whom have a severe tissue disorder called EDS which requires constant medical attention. Liz needs Nevada’s ESA so she can design a quality education for her youngest EDS child, Dallin, who will likely miss a lot of school in the future.
Jim and Cliff Courtney have a plan to bring economic prosperity to their small community. Unfortunately, the state of Washington has sunk their plan with a law that requires them to obtain a certificate of “public convenience and necessity” from the state in order to pick up and drop off passengers.
Spencer Byrd, a Chicago resident and part-time auto mechanic, who had his car impounded after he gave a client ride who got arrested for drugs. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered that his car be returned, but Chicago will not release Spencer’s car until he pays all of the towing and storage fees—more than $17,000.
Vincent Blount has accumulated $2,800 in fines,and even served jail time, due to Pagedale, Missouri’s system of excessive municipal fines.
In September 2015, Tammy Holland took out two ads in her local Colorado newspaper to alert readers to upcoming school-board elections. For that simple act of civic engagement, Tammy was sued—twice—by incumbent school board members who didn’t appreciate the publicity. Tammy teamed up with IJ to challenge Colorado’s abuse-prone system of enforcing private campaign-finance complaints. In June 2018, a federal court sided with Tammy and declared Colorado’s system unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Courtney wanted to become an esthetician so she could earn extra income and have flexible hours to spend with her son. But the state cosmetology board denied Courtney a license because of her criminal record, which has nothing to do with cosmetology.
Dan Staackmann is the founder and president of Upton’s Naturals, an independently-owned, ethical vegan food company based in Chicago. Mississippi’s ban on using “veggie burgers” and other meat terms in their labeling will have a devastating effect on companies like Upton’s Naturals.
Terry Dehko and his family have owned and operated the Schott’s Market in Fraser, Mich., for 35 years. The Dehkos had $35,000 taken from them by federal law enforcement officials through a process known as civil forfeiture.
Tour guides are storytellers, and the government can’t be in the business of deciding who is (or who is not) allowed to tell stories.
Robert Martin operates the Red’s Comfort Foods food truck and offers specialty gourmet hot dogs and sausages in Louisville, Kentucky. The city’s 150-foot ban makes it difficult for Robert to operate his Red’s Comfort Foods food truck in Louisville because the law creates no-vending zones that extend 150 feet around every restaurant, café and eating establishment in the city. In fact, Robert was even cited in 2015 for vending downtown within 150 feet of a restaurant.
Senator Lisa Torraco, a Republican representing Bernalillo County, N.M., was the initial sponsor for the Forfeiture Reform Law in the State Senate.
Abdi immigrated to the United States in the 1990s, after fleeing the civil war in his native Somalia. He is a longtime taxi driver who want to go into business for himself.
Steve is a model landlord who deeply cares about his tenants and their comfort and security. However, he is unwilling to allow the Borough to intrude into his tenants’ homes without their consent.
Charles Clarke is a college student, who spent over 5 years to save up $11,000—only to have it seized by law enforcement officials before he was scheduled to board a flight at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.
After working in the food service industry for several years, Troy King purchased his first food truck in 2014—a gourmet chicken food truck called Pollo. But in September 2016, Troy was operating Pollo in downtown Louisville when a city inspector threatened to issue a citation and tow his truck simply because Troy was serving customers within 150 feet a restaurant that also serves chicken. Troy was forced to abandon his vending location and his customers.
Next Chapter Winery is a family-run winery in New Prague, Minnesota built by Timothy and Therese Tulloch. To grow Next Chapter’s business, they would like to offer more varieties of wine, which would require using more grapes from other regions.
David and Ellen Keith have lived in Pleasant Ridge since the 1970s, and a daughter, a granddaughter and even two great-grandchildren live next door. But if forced out, they will be left nearly destitute in their retirement.
Robin Farris beat Washington state’s Public Disclosure Commission with IJ’s help. She fought for the right to sue the government to protect our constitutional rights.
Under Red Wing, Minn.’s rental inspection ordinance, it is easier for the government to force its way into the homes of law-abiding citizens than it is to search the home of a suspected criminal. Robert and Rebecca joined a lawsuit to stop these unreasonable and intrusive inspections of their private residential properties.
Aimee and Heath Hairr have five adopted children. Their oldest, Nolan, was floundering in his public school and endured intense bullying. The Hairrs just want Nolan to have a safe learning environment and for their other children to have the same.
Samantha Harris hired Sally Ladd, a New Jersey-based entrepreneur, to manager her short-term vacation rental in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. But when Pennsylvania wanted Ladd to obtain a real-estate broker’s license, which requires her to spend three years working for an established broker, Sally felt forced to shut down her business.
Doug and Mary Ketchum moved to Tennessee to purchase an historic liquor store that would let them take care of their 32-year-old daughter, Stacie, who suffers from cerebral palsy. But they can’t get a liquor license, thanks to the state’s strict residency requirements.
Jeff has spent almost 30 years building a successful small business with his brothers, distributing candy, snacks and other goods to convenience stores throughout Long Island. But the government raided the business’s bank account using civil forfeiture—taking $446,000 and nearly destroying the family business. T
Sage Lewis pioneered an innovative community for the homeless on his commercial property at 15 Broad Street in Akron, Ohio. His nonprofit, The Homeless Charity, provides tents, food, showers, computers, and other resources to 44 residents. But Akron is trying to eliminate his work through the city’s zoning code.
St. Louis tried to take Jim Roos’ property through eminent domain. Jim protested by painting a giant sign on one of his buildings. The city then tried to censor him.
After obtaining her private certifications in canine massage therapy, Grace started volunteering with rescue agencies and adoption events to provide canine massage for ailing and neglected dogs. She later turned her volunteer hobby into a business, which she named Pawsitive Touch.
IJ clients Keith Westphal and Joyce Osborn Wilson are banned from offering Alabamians a comfortable and clean place to use the prepackaged, teeth-whitening products they sell to customers.
Dr. Gajendra Singh opened Forsyth Imaging Center in 2017 to provide X-rays, ultrasounds, MRI scans, and other services at affordable prices. But Dr. Singh is stymied by North Carolina’s “certificate of need” laws.