March 6, 2013
U.S. Attorney Rosenstein's comments ("Feds don't confiscate property from the innocent" Feb. 27) highlight the problem with civil forfeiture: it turns the presumption of innocence upside down. If police seize your property under civil forfeiture, you must prove yourself innocent to get it returned, often waiting years before your day in court. Contrary to a criminal case, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, to take your property under civil forfeiture prosecutors need only prove that it is more likely than not that your property is linked to a crime.
February 27, 2013
If the woman described in your asset forfeiture article did not know about the illegal drug business in her basement, prosecutors could not forfeit her house ("Seizing assets to take profits from crime," Feb. 17). The law is clear: "An innocent owner's interest in property shall not be forfeited under any civil forfeiture statute. " Federal courts supervise asset forfeiture cases. If someone makes an innocent owner claim, the court will evaluate the evidence to determine whether she knew about the criminal activity on her property and whether she tried to stop it. A property owner can tell her side of the story in a written affidavit or an oral deposition.
February 16, 2013
Gay Lynn Diffenderffer had no idea that her husband was growing marijuana at their Baltimore County home, her attorney says, until state police investigating his mysterious disappearance discovered about 100 plants in a locked basement. Two weeks later, investigators found Michael Diffenderffer, 52, dead in his car - an apparent suicide that meant he would never face the drug charges brought against him when the marijuana was found. But that didn't close the book on his 2011 case.
December 29, 2012
President Barack Obama, the Rev. M. Cristina Paglinauan and columnist Dan Rodricks all have expressed sorrow and outrage over the slaughter of innocent children in Newtown, Conn. ("Stand vigil for gun victims and new laws," Dec. 23). Yet their vocal concern is in stark contrast to their silence over all the children who have been murdered in Mr. Obama's drone attacks. What applies to children murdered by a mentally ill gunman should also apply to those murdered by drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq.
December 23, 2012
The pundits are again grasping for reasons behind the recent mass shooting in Connecticut ("Battle lines form in gun debate," Dec. 19). On reflection, however, the answer is quite clear: Though as a society we cherish each member of our community, we are woefully detached from the massacres that exist in our midst every day. Where is this peril? Simply put, in a mother's womb. The place where a human life stands the least chance of survival is, in fact, the very place where it should be most protected.
December 14, 2012
A nation weeps. At 9:30 a.m., a man in his 20s walks into an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where his mother taught and proceeds to shoot and kill the equivalent of a filled classroom of people, most of them young children. It is the most senseless, most heinous, most hellish act imaginable. In our offices, our homes or wherever there is a TV set turned to a news outlet, we watch this crime scene and hear the speculation, the shock and horror and finally the gruesome details.