More on Seized Property
The state Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the government can keep and destroy more than 500 CDs taken from Michael Cohen, owner of Pitchfork Records in Concord, in 2003 even though the state failed to prove that a single disk was illegal.The editors have no praise for Chief Justice Broderick's reasoning...
Cohen was arrested for attempting to sell bootleg recordings. But the police case collapsed when it turned out that most of the recordings were made legally. Police dropped six of the seven charges, and Cohen went to trial on one charge. He beat it after the judge concluded that the recording was legal.
However, the police refused to return Cohen's CDs. In the state Supreme Court's Tuesday ruling, Chief Justice John Broderick, writing for the majority, reasoned so poorly that it appeared as if he'd made up his mind ahead of time.
The majority concedes that no crime or illegal act was proven, but allows the confiscation anyway by concluding that a crime might have been committed. The majority used words such as "apparently," "likely" and "would have" to describe the alleged illegal activity.I really wish I had the time to read this opinion, but I'm not sure if I can do it. Between school, work, my research project, organizations, and trying like hell to have a social life, I don't have as much time as I would like to do deep background reading for Eminent Domain. I'll try to squeeze it in this week and update the post, though.
Radley Balko has this to say about the case specifically and the state of the law in general...
It isn't surprising that these violations of property rights spill over into violations of personal and economic freedom. Property rights are the very foundation of our civil liberties. A government that's quick to restrict what its citizens can do with their private property won't hesitate to restrict, for example, free speech (see campaign finance "reform"). A government that refuses to recognize a man's property in his own body (re: drug prohibition) won't hesitate to those laws by confiscating actual, physical property without due process.It hasn't been an easy time for property rights advocates lately. Some of us are hoping to ride the Kelo backlash into some meaningful reforms, but I don't think that wave will go very far.