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California Just Says No to Medical Pot Prosecutions

Last week pit state law against federal law. This week, it’s state law versus local law in the cities or counties. Under state law, there is a defense to criminal prosecution for a medical-marijuana collective or dispensary that is run on a nonprofit basis for people who have state medical-marijuana cards or a physician’s recommendation. Read More

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White-Collar to Blue-Collar in One Day

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two notable decisions on the same day. One was a civil white-collar case, the other a criminal drug-trafficking case, and in both cases, the Court reversed the lower-court ruling on appeal. In the civil case, the Court imposed a five-year statute of limitations on SEC cases that seek to disgorge profits. That’s Read More

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Back to Basics, Again

Speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court, we shouldn’t have to rely on the country’s highest court to decide some questions correctly. But we do. This week, the Court issued a friendly reminder about the presumption of innocence. If you’re convicted of a crime, but your conviction is overturned on appeal, and there won’t be a retrial, the government has to return Read More

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Take the Money and Run

Kudos to the California Court of Appeal for enforcing due process and the rule of law. Earlier this month, the Court took another stand on the law of asset forfeiture by siding with people who had sued to get their stuff back. In three separate cases, the Court ordered the trial court to reinstate lawsuits brought by eight Read More

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New California Criminal Laws: Part Deux

To conclude our series on new criminal laws, here are two more notable ones. You have more protection against abusive asset forfeiture. This is Senate Bill 443. It amended the Health and Safety Code to curb law enforcement’s ability to take and keep your property without convicting you of a crime. For more background see here. Under Read More

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The New Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act

Speaking of trade secrets, there’s a new civil law on the books. Two weeks ago, with a stroke of the President’s pen, Congress enacted a law that allows you to sue (or be sued) in federal court for the theft of trade secrets. The new law amended a criminal statute that we alluded to in last week’s post. The amended statute defines a trade Read More

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SCOTUS Stands Up for the Sixth Amendment

We’ve asked this question before. What if the government charged you with a crime, and you wanted to defend yourself but couldn’t—not because you didn’t have any money, but because the government had blocked all access to it? Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said the government can freeze your money before trial if there’s probable Read More

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A Primer on California Asset Forfeiture

California’s asset-forfeiture laws mainly concern two things: drugs and organized crime. It’s more complicated than that because the organized-crime statute covers a laundry list of 33 crimes (including drug trafficking), any one of which may be deemed “criminal profiteering activity” if it is committed for financial gain or advantage, and just two such incidents may qualify as a “pattern Read More

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USDOJ Ends Certain, Controversial Property Seizures. Sort of.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an end to a controversial, civil-asset-forfeiture practice known as federally-adopted forfeiture, or “federal adoption” for short. It’s called that because it applies to cases in which state or local agencies seize money or property under state law but then offer the property to the federal government to be forfeited under federal law because they can’t or don’t want to proceed Read More

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Abuses of Asset Forfeiture Appear to Abound

In an op-ed piece from the Washington Post, two former senior Justice Department officials have called for an end to the asset-forfeiture program they helped create for the federal government. John Yoder and Brad Cates were each, in turn, director of the Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office from 1983 to 1989.  They say federal asset forfeiture was conceived to combat drug Read More

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