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Unjust Civil Asset Forfeiture in Phenix City, Alabama

That legal process evolved into an avenue for law enforcement to seize absolutely anything they believe is involved in criminal activity or has been purchased with assets gained from criminal activity. Most, if not all, of the assets seized, or the proceeds derived from their sale, remain with the confiscating agency and the prosecuting attorneys with whom they work.

Alabama is among the worst when it comes to civil asset forfeiture, keeping 100% of all CAF assets seized.

In November 2018, Quan Holt of Phenix City, was struck by a tractor-trailer rig while helping push a disabled vehicle off of a highway. His left leg was amputated from just above the knee, vice.com reported. His pelvis was fractured to the point it took plates and screws to reconstruct it. His bladder was ruptured in two places, his liver lacerated, and right femur broken.

After reaching a settlement for his injuries received in the accident, Hold purchased a new home, a Dodge Challenger, and some firearms. There remained a problem with residual pain. Holt discovered he could easily deal with that using marijuana. But there was another problem not so easily resolved: the fact that Holt is Black living in the Southern state of Alabama.

A cop living next door to Holt happened to see a baby potted marijuana plant in Holt’s backyard. The cop took a photo of the non-producing young plant and sent it to the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation.

A warrant was obtained and served on July 16, 2020. Holt was not home but his soon-to-be ex-wife was there picking up some of her clothing. After cops seized the ex-wife’s weed and $3,113 from her purse, she texted Holt to come home and “talk.”

When Holt arrived, he was set upon by the cops. They had already seized two potted baby marijuana plants from his yard and 3.19 ounces of pot, THC gummies, and five packs of THC vape cartridges from inside his home. From a briefcase inside of his car, they seized a bottle of THC oil, then $5,380 from the car’s center console as well as the car itself.

The marijuana and THC products had been purchased for pain management from Be Pain Free Global, a licensed telemed/telehealth medical provider in California.

Holt was formally charged with unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance (the two non-producing, potted pot plants), possessing cannibas for something other than personal use, and possession/receipt of a controlled substance. His firearms were licensed but remain in police custody. A CAF hearing has been set for December 2021.

Holt’s attorney, Mike Segrest, summed up the case as an “almost the perfect storm. If you look at stereotyping—here’s a young Black kid that’s in a flashy car, he’s got guns, he’s got money, and he’s got some drugs on him—there’s an automatic assumption ‘Hey, he must be dealing.’ That’s just not the case here.”

According to statistics compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, in spite of comprising only 27% of Alabama’s population, 64% of CAF defendants with criminal charges are Black. 

 

Source: vice.com

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