Nevada-Where the law goes to die

I wrote recently about the abuse of civil asset forfeitures by over-zealous prosecutors who seize assets without even charging the people with anything.

Nevada is a state where this extends to police officers who stop motorists on some pretext such as a minor violation of the traffic rules (say going a few miles over the speed limit), claiming that they somehow detected drugs in the vehicle, and then seizing all the cash that the occupants have. This is being used s a lucrative source of income for police and local governments. This has little downside for them since they tend to target out-of-state motorists for whom coming back to sue to recover their property can cost more than what they lost.

Jonathan Turley describes how police officer named Lee Dove operates.

In this video, Dove can be seen immediately alleging that “I just smelled weed. I know I did. I know I smelled weed.” Of course, there is no weed in the car but there is $50,000 in cash and $10,000 in cashiers checks. Dove announces that he is taking the money and adds “Everyday I do this. It’s all I do for a living. It’s drug interdiction and I get money.” There is no arrest. There is not even a ticket. Dove stops the car, strips the man of his money, and walks away. However, he pressures the man to sign a waiver to make it all legal and allow him to keep the money. He adds “With everybody, that’s what I do because they don’t want the problems or the headaches so they abandon the money. They take what they’ve got in their wallet, or in this case cashiers checks, and they bolt.”

The county has settled the cases against it but no action was taken against Dove. You can be sure that he and they will resume doing these things again. After all, the people of Nevada would be horrified by the thought of raising taxes to pay for police and other services. Much better to rob people passing through the state.

So Nevada is a place where not only do people like Cliven Bundy openly violate the law, the police and local governments also abuse the law. Seems like a great place to live.


  1. lanir says

    Okay… It’s now become at least an open secret if not common knowledge that cooperating with police officers is bad for you unless you have an attourney present. Even if they just come asking questions about someone else.

    With various police officers around the country apparently reinventing the highwayman profession is one supposed to refuse to part with cash then? That bit about possession being 9/10ths of the law is not quite right, it just means they have to sue you to get it rather than you suing them. For police I think they’d be able to detain you with no charges for up to 48 hours or (apparently) indefinitely if they want to pretend you’re a terrorist. But this is all info based on hearsay. I’m not a lawyer and haven’t read the text of the laws. Even if I could find the relevant laws it’s entirely possible, even likely that I’d lack specific expert knowledge required to correctly interpret where the line is between my right to not get robbed and the state’s right to seizure of assets (especially with the latter grown bloated and out of proportion as it has in the last few decades).

    I guess it’s something to ask a lawyer about next time I talk to one. Frankly I prefer my highwaymen in poetry and song ( ).

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