U.S. Attorney, Carmen Ortiz, infamous for harassing Aaron Swartz to death, loses major forfeiture case-a major win for propertySubmitted by JohnPhillipSousa on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 23:39
UPDATE: Court's opinion- http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/private_property/forfeit...
59 pages which boils down to this: The govt's only strategy was to throw the CAFRA book at the Caswells and the Property. The judge threw it back at them finding in each instance...NO PROOF...NO EVIDENCE. Lots of witnesses from the Tewksbury PD, but not one piece of paper was offered into evidence to back their testimony.
A telling quote from Judge Dein, p.50: "...this case is distinguishable from virtually every other even remotely similar case in which a forfeiture was upheld."
The case was Dismissed without prejudice meaning the Gestapo could conceivably move to reopen it. Why they would sure beats me since they've already spent more, incl. the court and legal fees, than the Property's worth. It'll depend on how sore a loser Ortiz is, probably. The forfeiture fund is currently about $1.6 Billion... what's another pawltry $1.3 Million?
(Originally posted on DP last October by 'fishy' as the case was preparing to go to trial. http://www.dailypaul.com/261068/outrageous-civil-forfeiture-... )
The judge has DISMISSED the govt's case against the Caswells:
Judge Dein faulted the government for engaging in “gross exaggeration,” misstatements of fact and “highly derogatory argument.”
“Punishing Mr. Caswell by forfeiting the Motel obviously would not punish those engaged in the criminal conduct,” Judge Dein wrote.
During the four-day trial in November, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz released a statement saying her office wanted to send a message by going after the motel. But just up the street from the mom-and-pop-run Motel Caswell, the Motel 6, Walmart and Home Depot had all experienced a similar rate of drug crimes, according to Caswell’s attorneys, without the government going after them.
“I mean, the government’s got all the money in the world to throw at these things and they just bully people is what it is,” Caswell said. “And it’s completely wrong. It’s just not American.”
The idea to go after the Motel Caswell sprung from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the trial revealed. The DEA has an agent who testified his job is to seek out targets for forfeiture by watching television news and reading newspapers. When he finds a property where drug crimes occur he goes to the Registry of Deeds. Finding the Motel Caswell had no mortgage and was worth almost $1.5 million, the DEA teamed up with the Tewksbury Police, who were offered 80 percent of the taking, the agent testified.
After widespread criticism following the death of defendant Aaron Swartz, Ortiz has been dealt a second major setback in two weeks. Bullock accuses her of abusing a draconian power of civil forfeiture.
“This case epitomizes what an aggressive U.S. attorney wielding these laws can do to a small and even innocent property owner like Russ Caswell,” Bullock said.
The U.S. attorney’s office says it is reviewing the decision. Having lost its effort to take the Motel Caswell, the government is now obligated to pay for both Caswell’s legal expenses and the legal work of the Institute of Justice, which will come to at least $500,000.