A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that if a motorist is carrying large sums of money, it is automatically subject to confiscation. In the case entitled, "United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit took that amount of cash away from Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez, a man with a "lack of significant criminal history" neither accused nor convicted of any crime.
On May 28, 2003, a Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez's name was not on the rental contract. The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez -- who did not speak English well -- and search the car. The trooper found a cooler containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police, this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows the force to keep the seized money.
Associates of Gonzolez testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez's story.
Yesterday the Eighth Circuit summarily dismissed Gonzolez's story. It overturned a lower court ruling that had found no evidence of drug activity, stating, "We respectfully disagree and reach a different conclusion... Possession of a large sum of cash is 'strong evidence' of a connection to drug activity."
Judge Donald Lay found the majority's reasoning faulty and issued a strong dissent.
"Notwithstanding the fact that claimants seemingly suspicious activities were reasoned away with plausible, and thus presumptively trustworthy, explanations which the government failed to contradict or rebut, I note that no drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug records were recovered in connection with the seized money," Judge Lay wrote. "There is no evidence claimants were ever convicted of any drug-related crime, nor is there any indication the manner in which the currency was bundled was indicative of
drug use or distribution."
"Finally, the mere fact that the canine alerted officers to the presence of drug residue in a rental car, no doubt driven by dozens, perhaps scores, of patrons during the course of a given year, coupled with the fact that the alert came from the same location where the currency was discovered, does little to connect the money to a controlled substance offense," Judge Lay Concluded.
The full text of the ruling is available in a 36k PDF file at the source link below.
Source: PDF File US v. $124,700 (US Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 8/19/2006)
CHINA’S new top official in Tibet has embarked on a fierce campaign to crush loyalty to the exiled Dalai Lama and to extinguish religious beliefs among government officials.
Zhang Qingli was appointed Communist Party secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in May. An ally of President Hu Jintao, Mr Zhang, 55, has moved swiftly to tighten his grip over this deeply Buddhist region. He was previously head of the paramilitary Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in that mainly Muslim western region, overseeing migration of ethnic Han Chinese as well as border security.
Mr Zhang’s drive to stamp out allegiance to the Dalai Lama, who fled to India during an anti-Chinese uprising in 1959, has adopted a tone rarely seen since the mid-1990s. Then Beijing began a barrage of rhetoric against the region’s god-king and banned his photograph after he enraged China by unilaterally announcing the discovery of the reincarnation of Tibet’s second holiest monk, the Panchen Lama.
In May Mr Zhang told senior party officials in the region that they were engaged in a “fight to the death” against the Dalai Lama. Since then he has implemented several new policies to try to erode the influence of the 71-year-old monk who China’s rulers believe is waging a covert campaign to win independence for his Himalayan homeland.
Ethnic Tibetan civil servants of all ranks have been banned from attending any religious ceremony or from entering a temple or monastery. Previously only party members were required to be atheist, but many of them quietly retained their Buddhist beliefs. Patriotic education campaigns in the monasteries that have been in the vanguard of anti-Chinese protests have been expanded. Ethnic Tibetan officials in Lhasa as well as in surrounding counties have been required to write criticisms of the Dalai Lama. Senior civil servants must produce 10,000-word essays while those in junior posts need write only 5,000-character condemnations.
After her capture and subsequent release three months later, the blogosphere was ripe with accusations and assaults on Jill's character. She was described as an insurgent, terrorist sympathizer, "anti-war" and anti-American. She was savaged for the video taken at Dulaimi's headquarters on the day of her release, because she wore the hijab and said those who imprisoned her treated her kindly. Those who wrongly criticized Jill fail to realize that she was still in fear for her safety when she made the tape.
During my short time with Jill, nothing she said or did gave the slightest impression that she deserved the slanders attributed to her. Jill was honest, brave and respected by the Marines who met her. I had the honor of joining the Marines of the 4th Mobile Assault Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines and the Iraqi Army on a raid on a small weapons cache on the Euphrates River. Jill joined us. She dismounted and walked the site with us, viewed the weapons cache (which can be dangerous as the rounds can be 'hot' or rigged to detonate) and even returned from the raid with the Iraqi troops on the back of an unarmored Iraqi transport, something quite dangerous with the high roadside bomb threat in Western Iraq. I insisted on traveling in an armored vehicle.