Tuesday 22 February 2011

Raid the poor

Unfortunately, the main lesson the DEA will draw here is that they ought to focus enforcement efforts on poor neighbourhoods where their victims are less likely to be law professors.
When narcotics officers appeared at a Castro home shortly after 7 a.m. on Jan. 11, they had permission from a judge to search for "proceeds" from an illegal marijuana grow.

The SFPD and DEA found no piles of marijuana money at 243 Diamond St., one of six addresses raided simultaneously in San Francisco that morning. Instead, they found Clark Freshman, who rents the penthouse at the two-unit building. Freshman, a UC Hastings law professor and the main consultant to the television show Lie to Me, was put into handcuffs while in his bathrobe as agents searched, despite Freshman's insistence that they had the wrong place and were breaking the law. "I told them to call the judge and get their warrant updated," he says. "They just laughed at me — I guess that's why they're called pigs."

Soon they may be called defendants in a lawsuit. A furious Freshman has pledged to sue the DEA and the SFPD for unlawful search and seizure of his home.
"I've been on the fence for years about the legalization of drugs ... and now I'm a victim of this crazy war on drugs," says Freshman, who pledged to sue until "I see [the agents'] houses sold at auction and their kids' college tuitions taken away from them. There will not be a better litigated case this century."
Hard core. I like it. Has a "Conan, what is best in life?" feel to it.

But in the grand scheme of things, this story sounds like one of the least bad police misconduct cases. Did they seize what money he did have and invite him to sue to get it back under asset forfeiture? No. Did they shoot up the place? No. Did they kill his pets or his grandpa? No. Did they beat him up? No. Did they use a flash-bang grenade, burning down the house and leaving someone inside to burn to death? No. It could have been worse. Worse tends to happen in neighbourhoods where law profs don't live.

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