May 25, 2024


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SC lawmakers make one more endeavor to correct state’s asset-forfeiture law

Associates of the Standard Assembly are producing a different try to revamp South Carolina’s asset-forfeiture legislation, which is struggling with a legal problem in the state Supreme Court.

a bunch of items that are sitting in a box: Large quantities of marijuana, money, firearms and other contraband sit on display during a Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office press conference on Operation Rolling Thunder's seizures on May 4, 2018.

© JOSH MORGAN/Employees
Significant quantities of marijuana, income, firearms and other contraband sit on show in the course of a Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Workplace press convention on Operation Rolling Thunder’s seizures on May possibly 4, 2018.

Legislators had been unsuccessful in their very first attempt two a long time back to deal with flaws in the legislation that had been highlighted in The Greenville News’ 2019 investigative series TAKEN. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic derailed initiatives to address the difficulty past calendar year.

The TAKEN investigation thorough how state law enforcement companies web millions of dollars each year by seizing assets from folks suspected of unlawful activity. The investigation observed that Black people today have been targeted disproportionately and numerous folks who forfeit cash and house are by no means billed with any criminal offense.

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Lawmakers on a committee that condition Dwelling of Reps Speaker Jay Lucas shaped following final year’s racial-inequality protests have drafted a new asset-forfeiture reform bill.


The evaluate, which was launched previously this thirty day period, would:

► Move litigation involving seized property from the civil-court docket method to criminal courts.

► Ban money and residence seizures in cases that do not outcome in a legal conviction.

► Conclude the exercise of roadside asset seizures.

► Set minimum amount forfeiture thresholds of $500 dollars or $2,500 for automobiles or other forms of assets.

A Residence panel heard testimony on the asset-forfeiture bill Thursday. The panel did not vote on the measure.

Rep. Tommy Pope, a Republican from York County who assisted draft the bill, reported his purpose is to provide bigger transparency to the course of action.

“The largest dilemma with the forfeitures that I see is that it wants additional sunshine,” Pope claimed.

Special: How civil forfeiture glitches, delays enrich SC law enforcement, harm people today

The panel also listened to from four solicitors, a general public defender, the chief of the South Carolina American Civil Liberties Union and a previous state lawmaker. They all praised the proposed asset-forfeiture measure even though supplying ideas on how it could be created greater.

“You will find no question that there has been some lousy items occurring with forfeitures,” reported 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.

Previous point out Rep. Alan Clemmons stated there is broad bipartisan assist for the asset-forfeiture invoice.

But Clemmons and two other speakers — Chris Scalzo, a community defender from Greenville, and South Carolina ACLU Govt Director Frank Knaack — advised even further increasing the least amount of money for dollars seizures to $1,500.

Scalzo and Knaack pointed out that the TAKEN investigation found 55% of seized assets concerned money amounts totaling considerably less than $1,000. Knaack explained people could devote a lot more than that to retain the services of attorneys in endeavours to get their seized income back.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins talks about an arrest in the 1988 cold case homicide of Alice Haynesworth Ryan, during a city police announcement in Greenville Monday. Police arrested suspect Brian Keith Munns.

© Ken Ruinard / personnel
Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins talks about an arrest in the 1988 chilly circumstance murder of Alice Haynesworth Ryan, all through a town law enforcement announcement in Greenville Monday. Police arrested suspect Brian Keith Munns.

Walt Wilkins, solicitor for the 13th circuit that incorporates Greenville and Pickens counties, stated the invoice requirements to present more guidance on how asset forfeitures would be managed in the criminal courts.

Switching from a civil to prison process “improvements every little thing,” Wilkins claimed.

“It is a unique bird, and it is a thing that South Carolina is not applied to,” he reported.

Rep. Seth Rose, a Democrat from Columbia, echoed the concerns voiced by Wilkins.

“We really don’t want to move some thing that gets a logistical nightmare,” Rose mentioned.

If the panel that achieved Thursday approves the bill, it will transfer to the House Judiciary committee. Finally it will have to have to be passed by the comprehensive Household and state Senate and be signed by the governor to become law.

– Kirk Brown addresses govt, development and politics for The Greenville Information. Achieve him at [email protected] or on Twitter @KirkBrown_Intention.

This posting originally appeared on Greenville News: SC lawmakers make one more endeavor to take care of state’s asset-forfeiture legislation

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