I probably don’t agree with many of Aaron Dorn’s political beliefs, but his experience in North Dakota puts a spotlight on the inherent corruption in civil asset forfeiture:
He was arrested during a Thanksgiving Day protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 in Mandan and charged with felony reckless endangerment, among other offenses. A state trooper alleged Dorn tried to swerve and ram his vehicle into traffic on Main Street in Mandan.
In June, Dorn was acquitted at trial, but his legal battle isn’t over. Morton County has held his 2003 Chevrolet Silverado since his arrest. Even though Dorn was acquitted, getting his truck back is a separate matter involving civil asset forfeiture, or the law enforcement seizure of property suspected to be involved in criminal activity.
Legitimate points might be made about the tactics in which anti-pipeline activists have engaged and the New York resident’s traveling to another state to cause trouble (from a certain perspective), but those are matters to address specifically in the law. We should not want a surreptitious way of punishing people whose cases don’t meet the standard required by the law as it is written.