IJ in the News RSS Feed
May 26, 2015
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Hinkle: Councilmen's rental-inspection proposal raises many questions
Should government agents be able to barge into your home without your permission, to make sure it’s being kept up?...   More

May 26, 2015
Record & Clarion
Legislature seeks to limit police confiscation powers
Michigan lawmakers want to make it harder for law enforcement agencies to take people’s stuff when they’re not charged with a crime...   More

May 24, 2015
Orange County Register
Redevelopment revival threatens land-grab abuses
A decade ago, a coalition of right, left and center came together in defense of property rights...   More

May 24, 2015
The Post and Courier
Charleston’s would-be tour guides face tough test
You may know that Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was one of Charleston’s most famous Revolutionary War-era figures...   More

May 19, 2015
The Philadelphia Tribune
D.A.: Civil forfeiture protocols necessary
District Attorney Seth Williams said Monday that his office continues to strengthen civil forfeiture protocols...   More

May 19, 2015
Detroit Free Press
State lawmakers consider changes in forfeiture laws
Michigan lawmakers are considering new legislation to reform the state's civil asset forfeiture laws, but...   More

May 19, 2015
Breibart
Op-Ed: Ban ‘Dark Money’ in Politics? Might as Well Burn the First Amendment
The government is not allowed to ban peaceful political advocacy or violate your privacy rights...   More

May 18, 2015
Forbes
Florida (Finally) Legalizes 64-Ounce Growlers
Florida just eliminated one of the most bizarre alcohol regulations in the nation...   More

May 18, 2015
Mic
After the IRS Took $107K From This Business Owner's Bank Account, He Fought Back — And Won
On a summer day last July, North Carolina convenience store owner Lyndon McLellan received...   More

May 18, 2015
Watchdog
Richland’s $4.1 million police station funded by civil forfeiture
The Mississippi city of Richland has a new $4.1 million police station...   More

Activist News - Get Active with IJ's Human Action Network

The Forfeiture Machine Turns Cops into Robbers

The most terrifying place in Philadelphia is Courtroom 478 in City Hall. This is where property owners enter Philadelphia’s Civil Forfeiture Machine. Civil forfeiture is a little-known legal device that allows law enforcement officials to take your property, sell it and pocket the proceeds—even if you have done nothing wrong.

Philadelphia’s automated, machine-like forfeiture scheme is unprecedented in size. From 2002 to 2012, Philadelphia took in over $64 million in forfeiture funds—or almost $6 million per year. In 2011 alone, the city’s prosecutors filed 6,560 forfeiture petitions to take cash, cars, homes and other property. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office used over $25 million of that $64 million to pay salaries, including the salaries of the very prosecutors who brought the forfeiture actions. This is almost twice as much as what all other Pennsylvania counties spent on salaries combined.

This is how the city’s forfeiture machine works: Property owners who have their cash, cars or homes seized must go to Courtroom 478. But Courtroom 478 isn’t a courtroom at all: there is no judge or jury, just a scheduler and the prosecutors who run the show. Owners who ask for a lawyer are frequently told their case isn’t complicated and a lawyer isn’t necessary, but are then given a stack of complicated legal documents to fill out under oath. Time and time again, property owners must return to Courtroom 478—up to ten or more times in some cases. If they miss a single appearance, they can lose their property forever.

Philadelphia’s forfeiture machine stacks the deck against property owners and leads city officials to police for profit instead of justice. To end these unconscionable and unconstitutional practices, the Institute for Justice and a group of property owners have brought a major, class-action lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit will take the profit incentive out of civil forfeiture and protect innocent people who are caught in an upside-down legal process that treats them like cash machines while violating their constitutional rights.

Freedom Flix

The Institute for Justice is always looking for new ways to promote the message of freedom. To that end, IJ produced the following videos in-house to tell the stories of our clients and their fight for individual liberty.

None of this — the cases or these videos — would be possible without the continued generosity of our donors. We hope you enjoy them and share them with those who need a little inspiration.

Subscribe to our videos via iTunes or YouTube.


 Censored in Florida: Creamery Owner Sues to End Labeling Censorship (2:43)
Mary Lou just wants to tell the truth, but government orders her to mislead her own customers.
 The Fight for Braiding Freedom (5:35)
Since the advent of hair braiding more than 5,000 years ago, it has been a simple and safe practice that government has no business regulating. African-style hair braiding uses no dyes or chemicals, and it is safe for braiders to perform.
 Food Trucks and Carts Are Just as Clean as Restaurants (1:07)
Research compares food-safety inspection scores of food trucks, food carts and restaurants in seven major American cities—and finds that street eats are safe eats. www.ij.org/vending
 Licensed Dentist Attacked for Charging Too Little (2:23)
When is it illegal for a licensed dentist in Arkansas to clean teeth? When he also happens to be a licensed orthodontist.
 Gov't grabs elderly man's home; won't give reason (4:10)
New Jersey’s CRDA is trying to use eminent domain to seize Charlie Birnbaum's property as part of a “mixed-use development” project. The trouble is that CRDA has no concrete plans to do anything in particular with it.

More videos: Economic Liberty, Private Property, School Choice, First Amendment, All Videos

Institute for Justice The National Law Firm for Liberty

“A merry band of libertarian litigators.”
—Columnist George F. Will

Institute Profile: Who We Are

IJ's Merry Band of Litigators

Founded in 1991, the Institute for Justice is what a civil liberties law firm should be. As the national law firm for liberty, we stick to a clear mission engaging in cutting-edge litigation and advocacy both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion on behalf of individuals whose most basic rights are denied by the government.  Our four pillars of litigation are private property, economic liberty, free speech and school choice. Simply put, we seek a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as free and responsible members of society.

The Institute for Justice is a 501(c)(3) organization; donations are tax-deductible.


 

More About IJ:

Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview with Chip Mellor

The Quest For Justice - the Inaugural Speech Launching the Institute for Justice

The IJ Way - While so many factors contribute to our success—the talents of the people involved, the commitment of our donors, and the pursuit of a strategic litigation plan—nothing is more central to our success than the culture of IJ, which determines the way we do business.

Litigating for Liberty: The Institute for Justice's Chip Mellor on campaign-finance reform, eminent-domain abuse, and licensing laws gone wild - an Interview with Chip Mellor by Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie.

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Our Record of Success

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- 191 cases litigated in four core mission areas:  economic liberty, property rights, political and commercial speech, and school choice

5 U.S. Supreme Court cases since 2002 (four victories)

70 percent victory rate (through litigation and legislation)

- In FY14 alone, IJ litigated 54 cases, including 15 case victories and 22 new cases

47 states protected property rights from eminent domain through legislative reform or state supreme court rulings after sole U.S. Supreme Court loss in Kelo v. City of New London 

Over 16,000 homes and businesses saved since Kelo

First favorable U.S. appeals court ruling for economic liberty since the New Deal

More than 300,000 children nationwide benefiting from school choice

- 40 national awards for our media relations work, publications, and production

Strategic research cited by U.S. Supreme Court and Indiana Supreme Court; used in 12 IJ briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, three successful cert. petitions, and 15 articles published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals; also cited in 145 articles by other authors in law, public policy, and scholarly journals

Only law school clinic in the nation focusing exclusively on assisting low-income entrepreneurs start exclusively private-sector businesses

READ MORE IJ AT A GLANCE

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We change the world, and have fun doing it!

 

 IJ Overview Video from the Giving Library

 

Watch more videos from each of our four pillars of litigation: Economic LibertyPrivate PropertySchool ChoiceFirst Amendment. View All Videos