Lifestyle editors are paying attention to the art display of Kim Kardashian’s house, but instead, the federal government when an ancient sculpture with the name of a reality show star on the shipping label arrived at the Port of Los Angeles. Government agents paid attention.
More precisely, some of the sculptures have arrived. The fragments are less visible — only the lower half of the person who broke at the waist. Thrift shop shoppers may shrug and continue walking, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors say the item may be banned under international law for the export of cultural artifacts. I set a flag.
Kardashian says he knows nothing about sculptures under federal control since 2016. However, the government claimed in a civil lawsuit filed on April 30 that someone smuggled the work from Italy.
The prosecutor isn’t saying anyone. Using a legal operation called civil confiscation, they can seize assets and retain them forever without arresting anyone. Instead, they can sue the property itself and demand that the inanimate object prove its innocence in court. This should be noted for deeply carved rocks that have legs but no mouth.
The upside-down process makes some strange defendants. The incident that caused the Kardashian family’s turmoil is called “America vs. One Antique Roman Statue.” Other classics include “America vs. one pure gold object in the shape of a rooster” and “America vs. an article consisting of 50,000 cardboard boxes, each containing a pair of cracker balls.”
Governments can use civil confiscation to track anything, but they usually target things that are easy to sell and profit from, such as cash and cars. All the government has to do to win the proceedings is to associate the seized assets with criminal activity using relatively low civil proof standards. They don’t have to establish anything beyond reasonable doubt.
Hundreds of people across Southern California learn how the plan works when federal agents attack a US private vault in Beverly Hills and seize the contents of a security deposit box on March 22. I was surprised. Real estate owners who haven’t done anything wrong now have to fight to get their property back.
Local police were just as brave in York, Pennsylvania. After their arrest, they routinely went to the suspect’s house and brought whatever they thought was worth it. The skeptical judge eventually accused the officers of “shopping for budgetary gains.”
Similar schemes continue nationwide. The Institute for Justice report, “Policing for Profit,” shows that local, state, and federal agencies used civil confiscation to generate more than $ 68.8 billion in revenue between 2000 and 2019.
Real estate owners can ignore the procedure if necessary and let the government own their own by default. If they choose to fight back, they face a maze of complex rules.
The ongoing Arizona proceedings show what goes wrong. Police confiscated cash from North Carolina-based vetoson at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and admitted that the money was his, even if the currency was from his own suitcase. I refused.
Surprisingly, the judge accepted the claim and denied Johnson’s right to challenge the confiscation. No one claimed ownership of the cash, so the government won the proceeding without having to prove anything.
Johnson has filed an appeal in partnership with the Legal Training and Research Institute, but many targets for civil confiscation lack a legal representative. Only the criminal defendant has the right to counsel. That is, when the government puts things on trial instead of humans, people have to pay for their lawyers.
Many innocent real estate owners leave simply because the legal costs outweigh the value of the seized assets. Kardashian could leave for a variety of reasons, leaving one of the Witnesses’ antique Roman statues independent.
If the sculpture loses its claim, it will be placed under US control and returned to Italy. Such results are rare. Most of the proceeds from civil confiscation go directly to law enforcement bank accounts.
Overall, 32 states and federal governments allow 80% to 100% of confiscation income collected by law enforcement agencies. The reduction in California is 76%, creating a direct financial incentive for abuse.
Kardashian adds talent, but her case is outlier. Every day, the confiscation of citizens does not benefit art and history. It benefits police and prosecutors and at the same time deprives property owners of their rights.
Darryl James is a writer at the Legal Training and Research Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
Confiscation of citizens remains ugly, even with Kardashian talent –
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