Your Rights Soon To Be Crushed by Utah Senate!
Will You Fight Back, or Surrender?
provided by Arnold Gaunt)
Summary: In Orwellian
fashion, SB 175, "Protection of Private Lawfully Obtained
Property", claims to increase "innocent owner protections" by
repealing the most critical provisions of Initiative B that
protect innocent property owners. The following attacks on
your rights are instituted by the bill:
1. Property owners will be
subjected to unjust federal laws that carry a presumption of
guilt for the innocent.
2. Due process is destroyed
by providing police with a financial incentive to take
property from innocent owners.
3. The American system of
divided, checked, and balanced government is replaced by an
alien system of government that consolidates enforcement and
funding authority in the police.
& Analysis" below for further explanation.
1. Contact your State
Senator and insist that he or she reject SB 175. Tell him
or her that property owners are not protected by changes
subjecting them to federal law, where there is a presumption
of guilt, not innocence. You may contact your Senator at
801-538-1035, or fax at 801-538-1878. For Democratic
Senators, 801-538-1406, and fax 801-538-1449.
Find your senator or obtain additional contact information.
2. Attend the hearing on SB
175. It will be held before the Senate Judiciary Committee
starting at 8 A.M. on February 13 (Friday) in Room 414.
3. Attend the emergency town
meeting being held on February 14, Saturday, beginning at
10:15 A.M. at the West Jordan public library, located at 1970
W 7800 S. At this meeting you will have an opportunity
receive additional information on SB 175, and ask questions
regarding it and forfeiture procedure in general.
4. Implore the intervention
Divine Providence against the darkness of the unjust
forfeiture statutes that we face.
Details & Analysis
With Senate President Al Mansell
at the controls, the Utah Senate is planning to immediately
bulldoze your rights. SB 175, "Protection of Private Lawfully
Obtained Property", was moved without warning to the Senate
Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee on
Tuesday. According to my Senator Scott Jenkins, there are
presently only nine votes in the Senate to oppose this
For the last two weeks or so,
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and fellow confiscation
lobbyists have been aggressively promoting SB 175 as a means
to provide Utah federal money to which it is entitled, and to
further protect the rights of the innocent property owner. In
fact, the bill states in its highlighted provisions that it
"increases innocent owner protections".
Nothing could be further from
the truth. The text of the bill, and its relationship to
federal law, establishes a vicious subversion of your rights.
View the bill in .pdf format or
in .html format. On lines 471 through 473 of the
bill the following verbiage is added:
"(d) A [state] court order to
transfer the property is not required if a federal
agency seeking jurisdiction over the property obtains a
seizure warrant, search warrant, arrest warrant in rem, or
other federal process mandating the transfer."
This one sentence addition de
facto repeals the existing law on lines 455 through 470. With
the existing law transfers to the federal government by Utah's
officers are allowed only if authorized by a state court. The
state court has limited conditions under which transfers are
allowed, and may refuse to issue an order if the property
owner's rights under the Utah Constitution would be violated.
In the comparable forfeiture
bill (SB 31) that was withdrawn by Sen. Valentine last year,
the requirement for a state court to authorize a transfer was
deleted. This year, rather than deleting this language, the
confiscation lobby has deceptively added one sentence that
accomplishes the same objective by nullifying protections of
the Utah Constitution that would otherwise be afforded to
innocent property owners.
The significance of the change
arises from the operation of drug strike forces (forfeiture
squads) that are principally composed of local law enforcement
officers and typically at least one federal officer. Prior to
the reforms enacted by Initiative B, when the local law
enforcement members of the strike force seized property, they
could readily transfer it to the federal government through
their federal member to deprive the owner of protections
provided by Utah law. With SB 175, Utah law can once again be
readily subverted by officers who operate under its authority.
There is significant motivation
to transfer property to the federal government. The first is
that there is limited protection for the innocent owner making
it easy to take property. Under federal law (see Title 18,
Chapter 46, Sec. 983(d)(1)):
"[The] claimant [innocent
property owner] shall have the burden of proving that the
claimant is an innocent owner by a preponderance of the
In other words, as a property
owner you are presumed guilty. It is because of
this and other components of unjust federal law that the
restrictions on transferring property to the federal
government were enacted. If General Shurtleff has his way and
eliminates the restrictions, there will be no protection
against this injustice.
To view the federal code,
perform a search with the information in the preceding
Once the property of an innocent
owner is forfeited by the federal government, under federal
law up to 80% of the proceeds from it can be returned to the
seizing agency. However under current Utah law, any proceeds
must be transferred to the State Treasurer for deposit in the
Uniform School Fund. This provision of law was added to
prevent "policing for profit", and to ensure that a property
owner would receive due process. Plainly, if the police have
a direct financial stake in the outcome of a forfeiture, the
right of an innocent owner to receive fair and impartial
treatment is subverted.
On lines 476-478 the requirement
to transfer proceeds to the State Treasurer is eliminated, and
is replaced by lines 479-484 which allow the law enforcement
agencies to receive money directly from the federal government
without control and authorization by a legislative body. The
fundamental American principle of divided, checked, and
balanced government is destroyed. Funding and
enforcement authority is vested in the police.
The forfeiture proceeds received
by the seizing agency can be used to obtain federal grants,
which can provide three dollars for every dollar provided by
the seizing agency. Again, this does not require
authorization by a legislative body. By funding themselves,
the local police no longer have local accountability.
Arnold J. Gaunt
Note from Accountability
Utah: For more information, see the
Property Rights section of our Issues & Alerts page.
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