Archive for September, 2013


When injustice becomes law (1)

September 26, 2013

The IRS seized Mr. Dehko’s cash because he was suspected of the crime of "structuring." He wasn’t charged or convicted, mind you — only suspected. So the Feds didn’t sue Mr. Dehko; instead they sued his $35,651.11. I’m sure that makes sense to some lawyer somewhere. To me it just sounds like a license to steal.

Thank Heaven for the Institute for Justice. If you want to lend a hand, here’s how.

United States v. $35,651.11
Feds Seize Family Grocery Store’s Entire Bank Account

Can the government use civil forfeiture to take your money when you have done nothing wrong—and then pocket the proceeds? The IRS thinks so.

For over 30 years, Terry Dehko has successfully run a grocery store in Fraser, Mich., with his daughter Sandy. In January 2013, without warning, the federal government used civil forfeiture to seize all of the money from the Dehkos’ store bank account (more than $35,000) even though they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. Their American Dream is now a nightmare.

Federal civil forfeiture law features an appalling lack of due process: It empowers the government to seize private property from Americans without ever charging, let alone convicting, them of a crime. Perversely, the government then pockets the proceeds while providing no prompt way to get a court to review the seizure.

On September 25, 2013, Terry and Sandy teamed up with the Institute for Justice to fight back in federal court. A victory will vindicate not just their right to be free from abusive forfeiture tactics, but the right of every American not to have their property wrongfully seized by government.

Update from the Institute:

IRS Backs Down:
Michigan Forfeiture Cases Voluntarily Dismissed
Government Will Return Seized Money to Small-Business Owners; Federal Lawsuit Continues Over Right to Prompt Hearing

WEB RELEASE: November 15, 2013

Arlington, Va.—Just hours after the Institute for Justice announced it was joining another civil forfeiture lawsuit in Michigan against the federal government, the IRS filed motions to voluntarily dismiss two forfeiture actions against innocent Detroit-area small-business owners. Terry Dehko of Fraser, Mich., and Mark Zaniewski of Sterling Heights, Mich., will each get back all of the money seized without warning from their business’s bank accounts (over $100,000 in total) by the federal government.

While today’s victories vindicate the property rights of Dehko and Zaniewski, they do not solve the nationwide forfeiture problem. […] A separate federal lawsuit filed in September by the Institute for Justice on behalf of Terry Dehko and his daughter, Sandra Thomas, seeks to reform civil forfeiture law to protect the constitutional rights of property owners. That lawsuit will continue.

“The IRS should not be raiding the bank accounts of innocent Americans, and it should not take a team of lawyers to put a stop to this behavior,” said IJ Senior Attorney Clark Neily. “We are thrilled that Terry, Sandy, and Mark will finally get their money back, but their fight does not end today. Our constitutional lawsuit against the federal government seeks to rein in the shameful practice of civil forfeiture.”


When injustice becomes law (2)

September 26, 2013

Paul B. sent me this picture of a house in his neighborhood; it’s just a couple of blocks from his house. The quote at the top is attributed (apparently wrongly) to Jefferson. (Click for a larger view.)

It was an odd coincidence that Paul sent this the day before I learned about Terry Dehko becoming a victim of los Federales and their civil forfeiture laws.


This isn’t the first sign to appear at that house. The odd part is that there’s a police cruiser from the St. Louis County Police Dept. frequently parked at that house. Naturally, we’ve speculated that a County policeman lives there. But since we don’t know the residents, that’s just a guess. Maybe the policeman is only a frequent visitor or a close relative.


Branches of economics

September 20, 2013

Here’s an amusing cartoon from


Via Carpe Diem


50 to 1 project goes live

September 2, 2013

Last May, I mentioned the 50 to 1 Project. It was an indiegogo project with the goal "to document the true cost of ‘action’ on climate change" using the IPCC’s own figures. Despite the fact that the project didn’t reach its funding goal, the crew persisted and completed the work anyway.

You can find the results of their work at (redirects to a page at Topher Fields’ site). There are 8 interviews there. I watched the interview of Anthony Watts, of fame, and found it very interesting.

Here’s the intro video for the project.

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