Quad City defense attorney Steve Hanna is applauding the state of Iowa's decision to pull the plug on its decades old drug interdiction team, at a time when critics say forfeiture laws in this country are ripe for reform.
"Legalized theft is what it really amounts to because they really don't need that much to go on and then they can seize somebody's assets. Then, that poor individual has to try and get their assets back and sometimes it can be next to impossible. It stacks the deck so unbelievably in favor of the government," Hanna said.
The Iowa State troopers have been assigned to regular patrol duties.
According to the Des Moines Register, seizures and forfeitures have contributed more than 55 million dollars in case to state and local law enforcement agencies in Iowa.
The disbandment comes just as word of a $60,000 settlement was reached in a case alleging the illegal search of a vehicle involving two California gamblers stopped by Iowa troopers.
The officers seized $100,000 after searching the vehicle and finding a small amount of marijuana, and the cash. Both men had a medical marijuana card from California. They were stopped for allegedly not using their signal when passing, and their attorneys say dash cam video disputes that.
"There's no crime necessary. They can seize the cash and property if they suspect there may be a crime," said Hanna.
Glen Downey, the attorney for the two gamblers who filed the lawsuit told the Des Moines Register he believes the suit "forced the state of Iowa to re-examine its decades-long practice of pushing the constitutional boundaries of the state's civil asset forfeiture law and to disband the Iowa Drug Interdiction Team."