Raining and Pouring

No sooner had I completed the entry below this, and, well…

On May 28, 2003, a
Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford
Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding
ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez’s name was not on the rental contract.
The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez — who did not speak
English well — and search the car. The trooper found a cooler
containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug
sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police,
this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows
the force to keep the seized money.

Associates of Gonzolez
testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase
a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a
one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time
he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party
rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from
being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began
questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez’s

Now, of course, since this is America, Mr. Gonzolez may rest safe in the assurances offered by our culture of freedom, our founding principle of government submission to certain natural laws, and our peaceful, deliberative, and predominately fair legal process to fall back on. Naturally, in spite of all the hassle and likely expense, Mr. Gonzolez was able to prevail and at very least to win a moral victory, right?

You would be wrong.

At least there’s one of the three judges on the 8th Circuit whom I don’t hope soon dies of a long, painful and awful disease.

"Notwithstanding the fact that claimants seemingly suspicious activities were reasoned away with plausible, and thus presumptively trustworthy, explanations which the government failed to contradict or rebut, I note that no drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug records were recovered in connection with the seized money," Judge Lay wrote. "There is no evidence claimants were ever convicted of any drug-related crime, nor is there any indication the manner in which the currency was bundled was indicative of
drug use or distribution."

"Finally, the mere fact that the canine alerted officers to the presence of drug residue in a rental car, no doubt driven by dozens, perhaps scores, of patrons during the course of a given year, coupled with the fact that the alert came from the same location where the currency was discovered, does little to connect the money to a controlled substance offense," Judge Lay Concluded.

Yea, the emphasis on "rental car" is original in the dissenting opinion.

Alright, sorry for the false allowance in the last entry. Now you can turn over and go back to sleep.

(Bill St. Clair, again)

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  1. Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2006 at 14:23

    Well, Scott, I'm not surprised that someone would raise various "legalities." Presuming their applicability to this case, I suppose that being ignorant of such is perfect cause for having $125,000 taken from him by force, i.e., by a gun-toting official.

    It's also no surprise, as I suspect that had Mr. Gonzolez been actually harming somebody or clearly in the process of imminently doing so, you'd have raised that point, wouldn't you?

    Interestingly, if Mr. Gonzolez's story is false and he was a drug dealer, he was making his living by engaging in free voluntary trade, i.e., he was buying from somebody who wanted to sell to him, and selling to someone who wanted to buy from him. I call that an honest living, regardless of what anyone might think about drugs. If Mr. Gonzolez's story is true, then he was also in the process of trying to start a business to engage in voluntary trade. Either way, an honestly living, dealing with others traders, in the voluntary exchange of mutual values.

    Conversely, I note that none of the people involved in taking his money, from the cops to the public lawyers to the appellate judges, make their living through commercial voluntary exchange. They're all just agents of gun and prison backed force. Always busy imposing the "will" of some supposed "majority" upon some minority — most often a minority of one and most often the most defenseless ones. They're all pipsqueaks & clowns, to a man.

    Me? I think the underlying, unspoken element of this case is that he's a Mexican. How can a "wetback" have that kind of change, unless it's through drugs? So let's just take it.

    I suspect that if the situation was reversed, Mr. Gonzolez would not be advocating doing to you what has been done to him. I certainly wouldn't.

  2. Scott on August 28, 2006 at 11:49

    If the guy's story is true, it is a sad story. However, even a guy that does not speak English would know we have laws against flying in and out of the country without declaring large amounts of cash. Likewise, it is against the law to transport large amounts of cash access state lines. Ignorance did not work in this case!

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