Federal Judge Approves Challenge To Arizona's Forfeiture Laws

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 9:08am
Updated: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 9:09am

Earlier this year, Arizona lawmakers made it easier for citizens to file court complaints against law enforcement agencies that take their assets.

Now, a U.S. District Judge has approved a broad based challenge to Arizona's forfeiture laws that could limit law enforcement agencies from taking or keeping assets at all.

The judge noted in her filing that several law enforcement agencies rely entirely on forfeiture dollars to fund major public and, in some cases, personal projects.

The San Tan Valley case filed in Pinal County involves Rhonda Cox who lost her truck when police discovered her son had replaced the hood and bed cover with stolen parts. With the federal court's approval, her attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou said he and the ACLU can now move forward to prove the state's assets and forfeiture laws are unconstitutional.

"The center of the lawsuit was always about the fact that police in Arizona and prosecutors in Arizona have a direct financial incentive to seize as much property as they can without regards to due process," he told Capitol Media Services.

As it stands, Cabou argued before the federal judge, his client and other Arizonans are forced to prove their innocence, while the state has none of the burden to prove guilt.

A hearing on the case is set for next month.

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