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Asset Forfeiture Reform In Georgia Gets Powerful New Allies

On January 20, 2013, in states, by Scott Alexander Meiner

Representative Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly, and Representative Edward Lindsey,  House Majority Whip for the Georgia General Assembly, have joined Representative Wendell K. Willard, Chairman of Georgia’s House Judiciary Committee, in sponsoring GA HB 1 (2013), the Georgia Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act. The landmark legislation would

  1. elevate the state’s burden of proof to a showing of “clear and convincing evidence that seized property is subject to forfeiture”;
  2. deny law enforcement agencies access to civil forfeiture proceeds when agencies misuse “property derived or resulting from civil forfeiture actions” as well as deny access to forfeiture proceeds where agencies fail to submit and make public (through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government) annual reports ”specifying the property received during the fiscal year and clearly identifying the use of such property, including the specifics of all monetary expenditures”;
  3. require Georgia law enforcement receiving federal forfeiture proceeds comply with Georgia’s proposed accountability restrictions;
  4. cap forfeiture proceeds paid to district attorneys’ offices at 10% of forfeiture proceeds and limit applicable usage of such payments to the offices’ “trial expenses, victim-witness services, training expenses, travel expenses, and maintenance or improvement of equipment”; and
  5. clarify and simplify forfeiture laws in Georgia through a comprehensive re-write–including eliminating obsolete and conflicting code.

Representatives Willard, Lindsey, and Abrams previously teamed up to shore up state funding for the public defense of indigents.

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