MINOT, N.D. — According to a report in the Bismarck Tribune, North Dakota’s law enforcement officials, from cops and prosecutors to judges and even Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, say there is no “policing for profit” in North Dakota.
But what occasioned the Tribune’s interviews was a report, from Stenehjem’s office, about civil asset forfeiture in North Dakota. That’s a legal practice in which law enforcement takes property, everything from cash and weapons to vehicles and homes, believed to have been used in a crime. It’s called “civil asset forfeiture” because it’s a separate proceeding from whatever criminal charges have been investigated.
The proceeding is literally initiated against the property. In North Dakota court dockets, you’ll see the cases pop up as something like “State of North Dakota vs. $65,000 in cash” or “State of North Dakota vs. a 1996 GMC pick-up truck.”
In order to get the property back, the people it was seized must, perversely, prove that it wasn’t used in a crime.
Back to the matter at hand.