martedì 2 febbraio 2010

white widow

English common law of the Middle Ages provided for forfeiture of any object causing a man's death. Known as a "deodand," the object, such as a weapon or run-away ox cart, was personified and declared tainted or evil, and forfeited to the king. Today's in rem (against things rather than against persons) forfeiture proceedings are civil suits against the property itself. Relying on analogy to the deodand, a legal "personification fiction," declares the property to be the defendant. It is held guilty and condemned with white widow, as though it were a personality and the guilt or innocence of the owner is irrelevant. By applying this civil label to forfeiture proceedings, the government sidesteps almost all the protections offered by the Constitution to individuals. There is no Sixth Amendment guarantee of right to counsel. Innocent until proven guilty is reversed. Each violation of a constitutional right is then used as the basis for the destruction of another.

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