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A Strange Cash Seizure in Kansas ... and Other Legal News You May Have Missed

By Richard Dahl on November 05, 2021 2:16 PM

Legal experts are scratching their heads over a case involving the seizure of cash generated by an activity that is legal in one state and illegal in another.

In May, a county sheriff in Kansas seized a cash-transport van containing $166,000 in cash generated by a medical marijuana dispensary in Kansas City, which is legal by Missouri state law. Three months later, the U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas brought a civil forfeiture action in federal court, contending that the seized cash was generated by sales that violate the federal Controlled Substances Act.

“But it's not clear why the government went after the property in this case," National Public Radio reported, “since it seems to fall into a nebulous gray zone of the law that involves establishments that are legal in one state but not legal in other states or at the federal level."

NPR noted that the during the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued a memo saying that federal prosecutors would not enforce the federal prohibition on marijuana in states that legalized it. However, the Trump administration's first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rescinded that rule. And the current AG, Merrick Garland, has said he wants to reinstate some version of the Obama-era memo, but its status is not clear.

In September, a federal magistrate judge ruled that there was probable cause that the money was from illegal drug sales and ordered a U.S. marshal to seize the money. The next step in this strange case is a scheduling conference that has been set for Jan. 4.

Philly Says Cops Must Stop Routine Traffic Stops

Philadelphia will be the first major U.S. city to ban police from making routine traffic stops for minor violations. The ban is expected to go into effect in early November.

Police have come under increasing pressure in many locales for using “pretextual" stops on flimsy or nonexistent reasons in hopes of ensnaring drivers for more serious offenses, like drug possession. Evidence has also surfaced that police are far more likely to stop Black drivers.

The New York Times recently conducted its own examination of routine stops and found that over the last five years, police officers have killed more than 400 stopped drivers who were unarmed.

Not So Fast With That Name Change, Ex-Indians

Cleveland's major-league baseball franchise, formerly known as the Indians, has hit a legal snag in attempting to become the Cleveland Guardians next season.

It turns out there's another sports team in Cleveland called the Guardians: The city's Roller Derby franchise.

On Oct. 27, the Cleveland Guardians Roller Derby team filed a lawsuit that seeks to stop the baseball team from using the name that it's been using for seven years.

The source for the nickname is a series of huge Art Deco statues, called The Guardians of Traffic, that line a bridge over the Cuyahoga River.

University of Florida: 3 Profs Can't Serve as Experts on Voting Rights Suit

The University of Florida has banned three of its professors from helping plaintiffs in a lawsuit that opposes the state's coming restrictions on voting rights.

The university told the three professors that they could not serve as experts in that case because it would create a “conflict of interest" for the university and for them as employees of a state university.

A lawyer representing the three professors said they intend to file a lawsuit against the university if it doesn't change its position.

Maine Secretary of State: Clean Up Your Vanity License Plate Messages

Nastiness will no longer be tolerated on license plates in Maine.

Among the many new laws that went into effect on Nov. 1 is one that allows the secretary of state, Shenna Bellows, to reject vanity license plates for a variety of reasons, including hate speech, violence, and obscenity.

“We are not going to start yanking the plates on Monday," Bellows said. “But people who review the law and realize their plates fall outside of the law may want to voluntarily exchange their vanity plate for another plate of their choice."

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