Senator Holly Mitchell’s Bill, SB 443, Would Have Required Conviction Before Forfeiture
Civil asset forfeiture reform legislation authored by state Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and David Hadley (R-Torrance) failed to pass the California Assembly floor on Thursday after extraordinary efforts by law enforcement to defeat it, including personal calls to legislators’ cell phones and other scare tactics.
Despite bipartisan support and nearly unanimous votes at every previous juncture, SB 443 could not survive the Assembly floor vote on Thursday. However, the bill was granted reconsideration, meaning it can be taken up for another floor vote tomorrow, the final day of session, if the authors so choose.
SB 443, which was co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU and the Institute for Justice would have required a conviction in either state or federal court before property could be permanently forfeited to local law enforcement coffers.
“We are deeply disappointed, but not surprised, by the lack of courage shown by members of the Assembly today,” said Lynne Lyman, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Apparently many of our elected representatives do not want to uphold the due process protections guaranteed to us in the constitution. Instead, they voted to continue allowing local law enforcement to circumvent the heightened protections of state law in favor of a corrupt arrangement with the federal government.”