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Jack Anderson and Michael Binstein: Forfeiture Creating Nightmare for Innocent


March 1993

The widespread and sometimes indiscriminate use of civil forfeiture as a weapon in the war on drugs is creating a nightmare for innocent citizens by turning fundamental constitutional guarantees, such as the presumption of innocence, upside down, according to syndicated columnists Jack Anderson and Michael Binstein (Jack Anderson and Michael Binstein, "The Legal Nightmare of Civil Forfeiture," Washington Post, 2/4/93, Home section, p. 12).

The columnists detailed a number of incidents in which innocent people were inadvertently caught in anti-drug operations and lost significant personal property as a result. One particularly embarrassing case involved a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seizure and subsequent return of a priest's car. The car was returned three months later after the FBI confirmed it wasn't associated with the drug trade. But the agency made the priest, Monsignor Dino Riccomini, agree not to sue the FBI.