Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seizures - Sheriff of Nottingham in full rein - reign...rain

Law of forfeiture a harbinger of future past

Reading Chapter 59 of Title 1 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure as creative writing...

It's a generation that grew up as felons. - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Professor of Gonzo Journalism, once a candidate for Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado

(Click on the arrow below, and listen to Big Brother and the Holding Company – loud – while you read this)

Waco - The Society for Creative Anachronism had it going on.

Here was this big, beefy porker dressed up in leotards and a funny looking, floppy little velvet cap, his tunic bloused at the shoulders, ruffles at his wrists and a sword and dagger dangling from a belt girding his loins.

He had by the hand a redheaded chick, her face powdered white as snow, with pearls in her hair and two little girls holding the hem of her skirt up out of the dust, and there were flautists, drummers and trumpeters tagging along, flanked by armored footmen wearing padded armor, bearing halberds and pikes.

“Prithee – all draw nigh and speak well of the Queen!” he cried out loud. With a sidelong and sinister look at the crowd, he glanced about with a menacing brow raised under his beret, “And darest anyone speak ill of the Queen?”

They all responded immediately, speaking as one, “Nay, m'lord. Nay!”

That's when they drew up in a semicircle, the backup singers blew the bugles in fearsome alarum, the drummers banged on the bongos, and the heavies with the sticks beat on their shields, their arms at port.

There, in that pasture among the scrub oak and manzanita, one was transported back to the hick cowtown old London must have been – her grubby citizens and overdressed gentry pandering about the place over just whose crotch they pulled some dame out of, and in what order as to her brothers and sisters, while this bully sauntered around threatening to take their property and cash, tools and homes.

“Silence!” shouted the head badass. “The Sheriff of Nottingham is here to inveigh in the name of the Queen. God Save the Queen!”

All the men bowed; all the women curtsied, and the kids raced around, wide-eyed and excited with all the noise and nonsense. Like kids always are, they were ON, Jack! In their eyes, it was as real as real can get while the Sheriff gave a long recital of the complete beneficence and nearly unbelievable munificence of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth, her many accomplishments and victorious endeavors Рkind of a spoken resum̩.

As Mr. Gershwin had written so eloquently, “It ain't necessarily so.”

And, so, this exercise in total fla-hooey, a conceptual combination flea market, bazaar, and exercise in alternative taxation - hand to hand - began to take shape while the tourists gnawed at turkey legs, drank beer from cups shaped like steer horns, and jugglers, gymnasts and tumblers did their tricks among tables laden with handmade silver and gold trinkets and baubles, native jade, blood coral, turquoise, obsidian, opals, garments tailored in raw cotton and silk, leather goods of all types, books, comics, posters, toys and oddly shaped furniture hewn from burls of cedar and cypress.

But, above all, lurking like an undercurrent, one was reminded of the near-total tyranny masquerading as law and order while these heavies gleefully relieved the folks of all the chump change in their coin purses in the name of God, Country, Destiny – and all that jazz – and the hip crowd of craftsmen and artisans dealt both above and under the table, on and off the books, just trying to get by.

Good schtick, even better street theater.

Showmanship goes for something, for sure, for sure, and it goes a long way.

Meanwhile, the folks doing the real deal were helping themselves to fleets of Mercedes Benzes, entire encomiendas of prime acreage, millions stashed in bank accounts far and wide, objects d'art, paintings, furniture, houses – anything of value – and turning that golden country, the land of the free and the home of the brave, into one big old pawn shop on a chessboard where they played for blood, money, and broken dreams. Just like old times.

It's all as legal as the hawks on the quarters, and you don't have to be guilty of anything particularly wrong – or even charged with a crime – if you read the law carefully - very carefully.

What's more, it can happen as quickly as you can say decree ní si, as in damned if you don't, or invoke the kind of now for then doublethink of the judgment nunc pro tunc.

Those deeds?

They'll get to all that later, but for now, the funds are frozen, the deed is encumbered, the title is revoked and the assets have been seized - in the name of the law.

The cash is placed in escrow, the cars, tools, and other goods in storage, the deeds of the real property encumbered, and we're off the races, in which the – ah, well, you know – the subject of the investigation may enter a suit of replevin to recover his property - if he can show it was taken unlawfully - but, in any case, the matter is carried out by the criminal prosecutor under the rules of civil procedure.

That means the criminal prosecutor need only show unto the Court by a preponderance of the evidence that the assets seized and then forfeited were contraband and should be retained by the People of the State of – whatever.

Bit of a sticky wicket, doing all that from a jail cell where all phone calls are made collect at rates anywhere from 5 to 20 times the going rate charged a free man or woman, and all the mail is opened and read.

Should have thought about all that before – ah, well, whatever.

“It is the intention of the legislature that asset forfeiture is remedial in nature and not a form of punishment...On final judgment of forfeiture, the attorney representing the state shall dispose of the property in the manner required...”

It's the law. So saith Art. 59.05(e) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

At any rate, the funds thus obtained are divided between the prosecutors, the cops, the courts and other governmental entities, and recorded as available funds for certain purposes come budget time.

And that, dear hearts, is what all the fuss is about at the McLennan County Courthouse.


  1. So does this mean that Lynch will cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas?

  2. By Jove, you've nailed it, old man. Come again, early and often - we'll leave the light on for you. - The Legendary, reporting from the Rockhewn Memorial Jail Cell Suite-on-the-Brazos at Wacko, Texas... etc.

  3. Look at the website for Sheriff Bell county and look at Sheriff Lynch,looks like Bell county got less officers and a better department.

  4. It's all about priorities. Lynch's priority is to document crimes then act as a clearing house for the cases to give to other departments. That's what administrators do, because they've never personally worked a case, so they don't know what to do with them other then give them to someone who does. That's why I voted for the lawman over the administrator, to cut out the middle man.