Wednesday, December 17, 2008

asset forfeiture: one of the problems with the War on Drugs

A potential, practical problem, illustrated by an article from the AP as reproduced in the C-J back in August...

I've read about other cases that are even more direct, but this is a good, local example...

A judge who investigated the Delaware County prosecutor's handling of drug forfeitures has called his use of confidential agreements "deceitful."

Delaware Circuit Judge Richard Dailey said that Mark McKinney's management of drug forfeitures amounted to fraud on the court, but that it would be up to a special prosecutor or a grand jury to determine whether McKinney would face charges....

McKinney and the task force used confidential settlement agreements without court orders to disburse hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and property for the task force's use. McKinney has defended the practice.

In May, Muncie Mayor Sharon McShurley filed an ethics complaint against McKinney with the Indiana Supreme Court's disciplinary commission, claiming that he diverted money from drug forfeitures that should have gone to the city.

Dailey said state law is clear that money from drug forfeitures should go to the general fund of the city or county council. Instead, he wrote in the report, the money was effectively diverted to the task force's control....

Under a contract governing civil drug forfeitures, McKinney was to get 25 percent of the court judgment or attorney fees allowed by the court, whichever was less. Since 2000, McKinney has received more than $100,000.


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