I have yet another story of civil forfeiture for you. But this one is a little different. Instead of it being a story about cops stealing property that the owner is never able to get back this story starts out with the courts siding with the owner. However, there’s a plot twist. The stolen property has already been sold:
For eight years, Michiganders Gerald and Royetta Ostipow have been fighting the seizure and forfeiture of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of their property.
Last month they prevailed when a judge ordered the return of virtually everything that had been taken from them. But the Ostipows’ victory was short-lived, for they soon discovered that the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office had sold their property years ago, while their forfeiture case was still being actively litigated.
So, it’s back to court for the Ostipows.
You can’t get what isn’t there but at least the system works… for the rulers. Law enforcers were able to steal and hock Mr. and Mrs. Ostipow’s stuff for financial gain. In order to fight the seizure the Ostipows had to invest money in a lawyer and hours in the court system, which helped keep the court employees employed. Then when the court finally ruled in favor of the Ostipows they found out that they would have to spend more money on lawyers, and by extent help pay the salaries of more court employees, because their property was pawned off years ago. If the federal court sides with them then the city that employs the officers will likely be forced to pay damages, which very well may lead to a tax increase to make up for the loss to the city.
In the end everybody involved with the State profits while the Ostipows have to continue hemorrhaging cash and will never be able to reclaim the hours of their life that have been lost.