In an excellent ruling, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion denying Shelby County District Attorney Lynda K. Russell — that’s the DA from Tenaha, Texas, where they’ve been running a highway shakedown operation out of the police department and prosecutor’s office — could not use money from the asset forfeiture fund to defend herself against charges that the fund was gained through illegal means. And she’s quite unhappy about it:
Russell has been left “high and dry,” her attorney says.
“She’ll have to pay for her defense out of her own resources, which are limited,” said Tom Henson, Russell’s attorney. “This whole thing has kind of fallen into a never-never land.
“She feels very strongly that she has done nothing wrong and she’s not liable, and neither are the other defendants. They had good cause for whatever they did,” Henson added.
Oh, the irony. The primary justification for asset forfeiture laws is that criminals should not be allowed to use assets gained through criminal activity to defend themselves in court. What a difference it makes when those who advocate and enforce such laws find themselves on the other end of an indictment, don’t you think?
The problem with this suit is that it’s only going to focus on alleged “abuses” of the asset forfeiture laws rather than on the fact that those laws themselves are inherently abusive. If you can seize property on the premise that it was involved with or gained through the commission of a crime, you should have to prove the crime first. The fact that you can seize property without even charging someone with a crime is as blatantly unconstitutional as any law that has ever been passed in this country.