Criminal Mischief Conviction Affirmed Despite Lack of Evidence of Any Intentional Act by Defendant

March 28, 2014

Nails.jpgThe Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a criminal mischief conviction in Carrizales v. State, No. PD-0320-13, slip op. (Tex. Crim. App., Dec. 11, 2013). The defendant argued that the state did not produce enough evidence to establish the corpus delicti of criminal mischief. Corpus delicti is a common-law legal theory holding that the factual elements of a crime must be in evidence in order to charge someone with the offense. In this case, the defendant argued, that state had produced evidence of property damage, but not of any intentional act by the defendant. The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the defendant's argument, holding that the U.S. Supreme Court and Texas have limited corpus delicti to cases involving confessions.

The defendant lives on a country road in Bee County. His cousin, Ramona Gomez, and her family live further down the road. No one else lived on the road during 2009 and 2010. Gomez and her husband have to drive past the defendant's property to get to and from their own property. The defendant reportedly believed that they were driving too fast, and in 2009 he alleged placed tree stumps on the road between his property and Gomez's property. He allegedly did not admit placing the tree stumps in the road to Gomez, but did tell her they needed to drive slower.

In late 2009 and early 2010, Gomez and her husband started getting flat tires while driving on the road, all caused by the same type of metal roofing screw. After Gomez had to replace two tires and her husband had to replace four, they began to suspect the defendant. They called the sheriff's department. A deputy got a flat tire in the same area while driving to Gomez's property. The defendant denied putting screws in the road, but admitted putting the tree stumps there. The defendant was charged with criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor. A judge found him guilty and sentenced him to thirty days in jail with a one-year suspension.

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Police Arrest Two People at Border Checkpoint for Credit Card Fraud, Possibly Related to Larger Security Breach

March 20, 2014

TPE_Ingenico_Elite_510.jpgThe arrest of two people at a border checkpoint in south Texas for alleged credit card fraud may be connected, according to authorities, to an earlier security breach affecting millions of debit and credit accounts at the retail chain Target. The arrests were the result of cooperation between local and federal law enforcement. Officials have offered ambiguous answers regarding whether they are investigating the two individuals in connection with the larger security breach. Some officials have alleged that the two people merely used account numbers obtained from whomever was responsible for the breach, while others have suggested that they might be part of a larger operation.

Hackers allegedly broke into Target's computer systems and stole the numbers of debit and credit cards that had been used in stores between November 27 and December 15, 2013, about 40 million numbers in total. The hackers also reportedly stole email addresses and other personal information belonging to about 70 million people from Target's system. The U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Justice are investigating the security breach. Investigators suspect that the hackers are located in eastern Europe, but finding them is expected to be difficult. The people who make use of the stolen information, however, may be easier to identify.

Police in McAllen, Texas were reportedly alerted to possible credit card fraud on January 14, 2014, when several banks contacted them regarding suspicious activity. Two individuals had spent tens of thousands of dollars on electronics at retailers in the area during the previous weekend. Police asked for the Secret Service's help connecting account numbers used that weekend in McAllen to numbers stolen from Target. They suspected that someone had encoded stolen account numbers onto new credit cards and used them to go shopping.

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Magistrate Could Find Probable Cause for Search Warrant, Texas Court Rules, Despite Presence of Unknowing Third Party During Controlled Drug Purchase

March 14, 2014

Lubbock_County_Texas_wind_turbines_2011.jpgA defendant facing felony drug charges moved to suppress all evidence obtained under a search warrant issued for his home, claiming that the magistrate could not have found that probable cause existed at the time. The search warrant affidavit stated that police witnessed a confidential informant (CI) purchase drugs through an unknowing third party, who obtained the drugs from the defendant's home. The defendant argued that the lack of information on the third party's credibility made probable cause impossible. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed lower court rulings rejecting the defendant's argument. Moreno v. Texas, No. PD-1731-12, opinion (Tex. Crim. App., Dec. 11, 2013). It found that police testimony regarding what they observed was sufficient to establish probable cause.

The Lubbock Police Department began investigating the defendant, according to the court's opinion, when they received a tip from police in Clovis, New Mexico that he might be distributing narcotics. They set up a controlled drug purchase with a CI, who made contact with another individual. This individual reportedly knew nothing of the police operation. While under police surveillance, the CI gave money to the individual. The individual took the money to the defendant's residence, returned with crack cocaine, and gave the crack cocaine to the CI. These factual allegations formed the basis of the search warrant affidavit. At no time during the operation did police see the defendant. A magistrate issued a search warrant, and police found crack cocaine in the house.

The state charged the defendant with possession with intent to deliver at least four but less than two hundred grams of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony, with a penalty enhancement for proximity to a school. Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 481.112(d), 481.134(c). The defendant moved to suppress the evidence against him, but the trial court denied the motion. He pled guilty after preserving his right to appeal. The court sentenced him to fifteen years in prison.

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Texas Police Arrest Man for DWI, Despite Negative Breath and Blood Tests

March 9, 2014

Letters_of_the_Law_-_'R'_for_Road_Policing.jpgPolice in Austin, Texas arrested a man last year for driving while intoxicated (DWI), even though a breath test at the time, followed by the results of a blood test, showed no alcohol in his system. More than a year after the arrest, prosecutors dismissed all charges, and the man is now hoping to have the arrest and court records expunged. The police stand by their decision to arrest him, noting that blood alcohol content (BAC) test results are only one way to establish intoxication under Texas law. BAC test results are often the simplest way for prosecutors to prove that a driver was impaired.

On January 13, 2013, police arrested the man after he allegedly ran a stop sign. They reportedly administered the Breathalyzer test at the county jail facility rather than the site of the traffic stop, indicating that police believed they had some other basis for arresting him besides BAC evidence. Police reports state that the man failed a roadside sobriety test because he was observed to be swaying and using his arms for support while standing on one leg. This sort of behavior could have other explanations besides drunkenness, which is why actual BAC evidence, or the lack thereof, is so important in a DWI case.

The Breathalyzer test revealed 0.00 percent BAC, meaning that if any alcohol was present in the man's bloodstream, it was too little to register on the machine. The "legal limit" for BAC, above which a person is presumed to be intoxicated, is 0.08 percent. The man voluntarily submitted to a blood test, which checks for seven intoxicating substances. A months-long backlog in blood testing delayed the results, but they confirmed a lack of any measurable amount of alcohol or the other six drugs.

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Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Rules on Race-Based Peremptory Strikes in Jury Selection

March 4, 2014

Sketch_of_an_overview_of_the_courtroom_that_includes_the_judges_bench_and_the_defense_table._24.jpgThe U.S. Supreme Court has developed a set of rules over the past few decades to protect the rights of racial minorities during jury selection, including a ban of the use of peremptory challenges by prosecutors to strike prospective jurors based solely on race. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently reviewed a defendant's claim that the prosecutor improperly excused a prospective juror based on her race. Blackman v. Texas, No. PD-1575-12, slip op. (Tex. Crim. App., Dec. 11, 2013). Although the Court of Appeals agreed with the defendant, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed their ruling, holding that the Supreme Court precedent cited by the lower appellate court did not apply to the case.

Racial discrimination has been and continues to be a problem throughout the judicial system. During jury selection, known as voir dire, attorneys for both sides have a limited number of "peremptory challenges," with which they can strike prospective jurors for any or no particular reason. In cases where the defendant is a racial minority, prosecutors have at times sought to strike prospective jurors of the same race. The pattern of race-based peremptory strikes has negatively affected the rights of certain defendants.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this practice violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). This case allows a defendant to allege that a prosecutor's peremptory challenge was improperly based on race. If the defendant can demonstrate a race-based motive by a preponderance of evidence, the burden shifts to the state to provide a race-neutral explanation.

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Venue Errors May Be Reviewed on Appeal, Says Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

February 27, 2014

Caddo_Lake-_Cypress.jpgA defendant appealed his conviction for hindering a secured creditor, arguing that the state failed to prove that the trial court was the proper venue. He claimed that venue error was not subject to a "harm analysis" on appeal, meaning that not only was he not required to show that the error adversely affected his case, but that the error required the appellate court to reverse the conviction. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected this argument, holding that venue error is a "non-constitutional" reversible error that requires a harm analysis. Schmutz v. Texas, No. PD-0530-13, opinion (Tex. Crim. App., Jan. 298, 2014). It further found that any venue error in the trial court did not harm the appellant.

Texas appellate rules categorize reversible errors as constitutional and non-constitutional in nature. Tex. R. App. P. 44.2. An appellate court must reverse a conviction or order of punishment if it finds that a reversible error during trial court proceedings violated the defendant's constitutional rights. This requirement applies whether or not the error caused harm or prejudice to the defendant's case. State appellate rules require courts to disregard other reversible errors unless they "affect substantial rights."

The present case involved a dispute over venue, which, in the case of Texas felony prosecutions, refers to the county that hears the trial proceedings. Venue is usually proper in the county where the offense occurred, Tex. Code Crim. P. Art. 13.18, but Texas law identifies numerous exceptions for specific offenses. In a case of allegedly hindering a secured creditor, Tex. Pen. Code § 32.33, state law allows venue in the county where the defendant obtained the secured property, the county where the defendant disposed of the secured property, or the county where the parties signed the security agreement. Tex. Code. Crim. P. Art. 13.09.

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"Independent Source" Doctrine Allows State to Use Evidence Originally Discovered through an Unlawful Search

February 20, 2014

Hippomane_mancinella_(fruit).jpgOur criminal justice system generally prohibits the state from using evidence obtained unlawfully in a criminal prosecution. This rule is often known as the "fruit of the poisonous tree," meaning that if the underlying search was illegal, any evidence obtained through that search is therefore tainted. Federal courts have identified an exception to this rule, known as the "independent source" doctrine, for evidence discovered through an illegal search, but later obtained through independent, legal means.The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently affirmed a state trial court's application of the independent source doctrine, finding that it does not conflict with state law. Wehrenberg v. Texas, Nos. PD-1702-12, PD-1703-12, slip op. (Tex. Crim. App., Dec. 11, 2013).

The fruit of the poisonous tree rule derives from the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits law enforcement from conducting searches and seizures without probable cause and a warrant. A defendant can bring a motion to suppress evidence obtained in violation of these rights. If a court concludes that an officer or any other person violated a defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, or violated any other federal or state law related to criminal evidence, the court must suppress that evidence. This rule is codified in Article 38.23 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

The U.S. Supreme Court outlined the independent source doctrine in Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796 (1984). A defendant moved to suppress evidence discovered in a warrantless search of his apartment during his arrest on drug-related charges. Police received authorization from prosecutors to arrest the defendant, but because the authorization came at about 7:00 p.m., they had to wait until the following day for a search warrant. They arrested the defendant in the lobby of his apartment building and escorted him to his apartment. Inside the apartment, they observed evidence linking the defendant to drug trafficking. Nineteen hours later, they returned with a search warrant and seized the evidence.

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Federal and State Laws Make Importation of Prohibited Animals, Such as Piranha, a Criminal Offense

February 4, 2014

Pirhana06.jpgA man pleaded guilty in January to federal charges related to importing prohibited wildlife, specifically piranha, in falsely-labeled packaging. U.S. v. Rakower, No. 1:13-cr-00696 (E.D.N.Y.) Federal law and laws in many states, including Texas, prohibit the importation, purchase, sale, and possession of various species of animals deemed "exotic" without a permit, allowing both civil and criminal proceedings for alleged violations. The statutes and regulations do not always specify whether the state must prove that a defendant acted intentionally or knowingly. This is an important feature in most criminal statutes that protects defendants by ensuring that prosecutors must prove that a person acted with some criminal state of mind.

The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371 et seq., provides a wide range of protections for plants and animals, with both civil and criminal penalties. It generally prohibits any trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been obtained or transported in violation of any law or treaty. Some prohibitions are motivated by concerns of conservation and apply to endangered or threatened species. Others are based on public safety, such as in the case of the piranha, a notorious carnivorous fish that is native to South American rivers. One court, in affirming criminal penalty provisions regarding the piranha, noted that it is "an extremely voracious, aggressive, carnivorous fish" that poses "a danger to other fish, to mammals, and to human beings." Adams v. Shannon, 7 Cal.App.3d 427, 433 (Cal. App. 2nd Dist. 1970).

In the present case, prosecutors alleged that the defendant, through a solely-owned corporation, imported nearly 40,000 piranhas from a tropical fish supplier in Hong Kong. He allegedly directed the supplier to label the fish as silver tetras, an unremarkable aquarium fish, to get the packages through U.S. Fish and Wildlife inspections. He and the corporation were each charged with one count of false labeling in violation of the Lacey Act. 16 U.S.C. § 3372(d)(3). Both defendants pleaded guilty on January 29, 2014, agreeing to pay fines and restitution to state environmental regulators. Sentencing is scheduled for April.

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Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Identifies Standards for Determining if Laboratory Technician's Mishandling of Evidence Renders Evidence False in Drug Cases

January 30, 2014

Bruker_HCTultra_mass_spectrometer_June2007.JPGThe discovery of professional misconduct by a crime lab technician resulted in widespread retesting of evidence by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and multiple applications for habeas corpus by inmates convicted based on evidence handled by the technician. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals at first applied a presumption that tests conducted by the lab technician were unreliable and prejudicial to defendants' cases. In January 2014, the court dropped the presumption of error in favor of a more generally applicable rule in Ex parte Coty, No. WR-79,318-02, opinion (Tex. Crim. App., Jan. 15, 2014). It applied a five-part test for a habeas corpus applicant to shift the burden to the state to prove that the technician did not engage in intentional misconduct

According to the court's opinion, a technician at the Houston Police Department's Crime Lab Division was found to have engaged in professional misconduct over a six-year period, including "dry labbing," the process of using evidence from one case to support evidence in a different case. DPS determined that the technician had worked on nearly 5,000 cases at the crime lab, and that fifty to seventy-five percent of them had evidence that the state could retest. DPS retested evidence from a sample of cases, and estimated that only about two percent of the cases would require corrective action. It suspended the technician, who later resigned.

The Court of Criminal Appeals granted relief to habeas applicants in cases where the evidence was no longer available, holding that the technician's misconduct violated the applicants' due process rights. Ex parte Turner, 394 S.W.3d 513 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013). It later also granted relief to some applicants where evidence was still available for testing, finding that the technician's test results were unreliable and therefore a due process violation, but remanding the applicant to the trial court. Ex parte Hobbs, 393 S.W.3d 780 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013).

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Former Oil and Gas CEOs Charged with Bribery Under FCPA

January 24, 2014

Monumento_en_Ecopetrol.JPGIn early January 2014, federal prosecutors unsealed criminal complaints against two former CEOs of an oil and gas company for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1 et seq. They also charged the company's former general counsel with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They filed the complaints in November 2013 and waited to unseal them until they had arrested all defendants. The government is accusing them of bribing an official at Colombia's state-controlled oil company in order to get a lucrative contract.

The FCPA, first enacted in 1977, prohibits bribery of foreign officials. "Bribery" is defined as transfers of cash or other things of value with the intent to influence the foreign official in their duties, or with the knowledge that the thing of value will be used to gain influence. The law, as amended, applies to "persons" including U.S. citizens and nationals, U.S. businesses, foreign businesses trading securities in the U.S. and others. A person does not have to be physically present in the U.S. for the FCPA to apply, provided they use any "instrumentality of interstate commerce."

Two of the defendants were co-chief executive officers of PetroTiger Ltd., an oil and gas services company based in the British Virgin Islands with offices in the U.S. The third defendant was general counsel. All three are United States citizens. In late 2010, they allegedly bribed an official of Ecopetrol S.A., Colombia's state-owned oil company, by making three wire transfers totaling about $330,000 from a bank in New York to the official's bank account in Colombia. They were allegedly in New Jersey when they ordered the transfers.

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Fine Against Hedge Fund for Insider Trading is Largest in History, While Individual Traders Face Possible Jail Time

January 15, 2014

11_Wall_Street.jpgA New York hedge fund pleaded guilty to insider trading late last year, and the penalty reportedly includes the largest fine for insider trading in history. SAC Capital must pay a total penalty of $1.8 billion and cease any involvement in the investment advisory business. The settlement does not prevent criminal charges against individual employees. The government, through the U.S. Attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has brought both criminal and civil complaints against the company and multiple individuals as part of its broader investigation. Six SAC employees pleaded guilty to insider trading in early 2013, and two fought the charges. One of them, Michael Steinberg, was convicted in December 2013, and Mathew Martoma's trial began in January 2014. The SEC filed a civil complaint against the head of the hedge fund, Steven A. Cohen, last year, but Cohen has not faced criminal liability.

A series of trades attracted the attention of the FBI in 2008. An analyst working under Steinberg claimed that Steinberg instructed him sometime in late 2007 to find nonpublic information they could use in trading. Steinberg denied that any such conversation ever took place. The government would charge that Steinberg, based on information from the analyst that the computer company Dell expected to have a disappointing third quarter in 2008, acquired a short position of $3 million in the company's stock. They learned that Cohen, their boss, had a long position, which would cause him to lose money. Shortly before Dell's earnings announcement, Cohen allegedly sold his entire long position. The matter in dispute is whether he sold based on nonpublic information obtained from Steinberg, or public information. Martoma allegedly made similarly suspicious transactions of stock in the pharmaceutical companies Elan and Wyeth in 2008.

These and other transactions were part of the government's criminal case against SAC Capital, filed in July 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The indictment alleged that the company recruited analysts based on their access to insiders with nonpublic information, and that it encouraged traders to make profits using such nonpublic information. The company had already settled a civil insider trading case in March 2013 for $616 million. The government credited that amount against the $1.8 billion penalty when the company pleaded guilty to all of the charged insider trading counts. That penalty consists of a $900 million criminal fine and a $900 million civil forfeiture judgment, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. The company is barred from the investment advisory business, but may still manage Cohen's estimated $8 billion fund.

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Insider Trading Charges and Forfeiture Suit Brought Against Former Microsoft Senior Manager and Friend

January 8, 2014

800px-E-ticker.jpgFederal prosecutors have charged a former senior Microsoft manager and another individual with multiple felony counts of insider trading. They are alleging that the former manager passed confidential information to a friend on several occasions, and that the two individuals made almost $400,000 through investments based on this information. U.S. v. Jorgenson, et al, No. 2:13-mj-00613, complaint (W.D. Wash., Dec. 17, 2013). The federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also filed a civil suit against the two men seeking forfeiture of their gains from the alleged scheme. SEC v. Jorgenson, et al, No. 2:13-cv-02275, complaint (W.D. Wash., Dec. 19, 2013). Insider trading laws are intended to prevent unfair advantages in stock markets from information that is not public or not otherwise available to ordinary investors. Prosecutors must prove that a defendant knew the information at the time they bought or sold stocks or other securities, which can be a difficult burden to meet.

According to the government's criminal complaint, the Microsoft manager, Brian Jorgenson, tipped off a friend, Sean Stokke, regarding inside information on three separate occasions. He allegedly told Stokke about Microsoft's planned investment in Barnes & Noble's e-reader business in April 2012. The two men reportedly gained $185,000 after the public announcement of the investment on April 30, 2012, when Barnes & Noble's stuck went up by fifty-one percent.

The second disclosure allegedly occurred in July 2013, when the defendants purchased Microsoft options in advance of the announcement of a report showing that earnings were lower than projected. Microsoft's share price dropped, and the options reportedly yielded profits of about $195,000.

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Court Grants, then Stays, Preliminary Injunction in Case Alleging that NSA Metadata Collection Violates Fourth Amendment

December 20, 2013

BinaryLibrary.pngA federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit claiming that the National Security Agency (NSA) violated the Fourth Amendment through its recently-disclosed practice of collecting data regarding U.S. citizens' domestic telephone and internet activity. Klayman v. Obama, No. 13-0851, mem. op. (D.D.C., Dec. 16, 2013). The plaintiffs, the court found, have standing to challenge the NSA's "bulk collection and querying of phone record metadata," id. at 5, and meet the other criteria for a preliminary injunction on some of their claims. The judge stayed enforcement of the injunction, however, pending an appeal by the federal government.

During the summer of 2013, the British newspaper The Guardian reported on several leaks of classified information regarding surveillance activities by the NSA and other government agencies. Some of these activities involved collection of metadata from telephone and internet activity. Metadata might include the telephone numbers involved in a call and the length of the call, but does not include any information about what the participants in the call discussed. This collection activity generally occurred with the cooperation of private telecommunications and internet companies.

The Klayman lawsuit--actually two lawsuits filed in June 2013--alleged in part that the bulk collection of American citizens' metadata within the U.S. violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against warrantless searches. The defendants include government officials and agencies like President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice, and the NSA; private companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Skype, and Google; and executives of those companies like Steve Ballmer and Mark Zuckerberg.

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Restrictions on Parolees' Social Media Access Are Constitutional, Court Says

December 17, 2013

Facebook_Credits_in_Target.jpgFederal law and the laws of most states allow for the release of an individual from incarceration before they have served their full term of imprisonment under many circumstances. Known as parole, this type of release requires a person to comply with various restrictions. The nature and extent of these restrictions are the subject of constant dispute by parolees. A recent appellate court decision, J.B. v. New Jersey State Parole Board, addressed whether parole conditions prohibiting several individuals from using social media violated their constitutional rights. The case is one of the first to involve this issue. Citing the parolees' status as registered sex offenders, the court ruled that no constitutional violations occurred, but it allowed for the possibility of more specific challenges in the future.

A term of confinement in a jail or prison is one possible outcome of a criminal case. It may be most likely to occur if a judge or jury convicts a defendant after a trial, but a defendant may agree to a prison term as part of a plea agreement, often in order to avoid the risk of a longer term. All four of the individuals challenging the social media ban in the J.B. case pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three years to twenty-five years. Upon their release, they were all required to register as sex offenders, and the state parole board prohibited them from accessing social media websites or services.

The four individuals appealed the parole board's rulings, claiming in part that the social media ban violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association and their rights under the Due Process Clause. The court rejected the facial challenges to the social media ban, citing the "special characteristics of sex offenders" under state law. The state may impose reasonable and necessary restrictions on individuals as a condition of parole, and the court noted that state law specifically allowed restrictions on computer use in circumstances matching those of the appellants. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2C:43-6.4(f). The court added that it might consider more specific challenges to social media restrictions as they are applied, but it found them to be constitutional as a general matter.

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Hearing on Civil Asset Forfeiture Takes a Strange Turn

December 13, 2013

Cumberland-plateau-i40-tn1.jpgCivil asset forfeiture is a highly controversial procedure that allows law enforcement to seize cash and other assets suspected of association with illegal drugs and other criminal activity. The state can then file a civil claim seeking a court judgment divesting the owner of any claim to the assets. Because these proceedings are civil rather than criminal, the state's burden of proof to show a connection between the assets and criminal activity is much lower. The Tennessee Legislature held hearings in November 2013 on the practice, which led to an unusual and unexpected comment from the head of a Nashville drug task force.

Nashville station Newschannel 5 reported extensively on alleged abuses in "policing for profit." This coverage reportedly inspired the legislature's hearings. As legislators were questioning the director of the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force about the failure to connect $160,000 in cash, which had been seized from a New York businessman during a traffic stop, to any sort of illegal drug activity, the director reportedly claimed that it "had terrorist ties overseas." He did not offer any additional information on the basis of that claim.

When a senator asked why the money was returned to its owner despite alleged terrorist ties, the director said the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) returned the money, not his task force. Newschannel 5's investigation, however, revealed that the U.S. Attorney's Office returned the money as part of a settlement of the civil case, filed as In re $160,000 U.S. Currency, No. 3:12-mc-00032 (M.D. Tenn.)

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