Do Not — Repeat, DO NOT — Drive Through Tenaha, Texas

Sarah Stillman in The New Yorker gives a chilling account of how civil forfeiture laws are being abused by local police. If you care about civil liberties and the safety of your own property, you will want to read this story. Her lead example takes place 176 miles east of here, outside of Longview, in the little town of Tenaha, Texas.

Every candidate for governor and attorney general — currently parading up and down the state pandering to the base about abortion and the defense of marriage at Republican town hall meetings — ought to be required to answer sharp questions about the collapse of liberty in this supposed liberty-loving state. Yes, I’m looking at you, Dan Branch.


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  • red

    Call rambo

  • Jim Rain

    This is outrageous. Thanks for spreading the word about these abuses. Everyone who reads this should raise a huge ruckus with their state and federal representatives.

    (P.S. Nice wordsmithing on “pandering to the base”; I like the dual meaning that can be attributed to “the base.”)

  • Leagle

    Dan may need a bigger boat. It’s not just evil Mayberry Andys feeding on these easy bait balls.

    Now that Holder’s JD has had its hand slapped, could the competition from entrepreneurial strippers just unleashed actually threaten the fragile recovery?

  • Peter Kurilecz

    so it takes a story in the New Yorker to get folks all up in arms over this problem which has been going on for quite sometime not only in Tenaha but all across the country
    “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture chronicles how state and federal laws leave innocent property owners vulnerable to forfeiture abuse and encourage law enforcement to take property to boost their budgets. The report finds that by giving law enforcement a direct financial stake in forfeiture efforts, most state and federal laws encourage policing for profit, not justice. ”

  • Dubious Brother

    The police have been doing this for decades with traffic tickets – the forfeiture just raised the stakes. 35 years ago I was driving through southern Wyoming with my family and Texas license plates, hadn’t seen another car for many miles and was pulled over for speeding. I was given the option of going to the court house the next day or so or paying the ticket in cash. I put the cash in the envelope and went on my way.
    On another trip, we were pulled over in Kansas for “having Texas plates.” A Kansas State Trooper had been murdered the previous week by someone from Texas. He ticketed me for speeding even though I wasn’t and I had the choice of appearing in court in a couple of weeks or paying it. Out of state drivers have always been easy targets.

  • Chris


  • AmyS

    I would love to know how the Dallas police and Dallas sheriff handle these forfeitures. And what kind of income they’ve been pulling in compared to a small town (or larger city) in Texas.

    Treatment of the innocent in such a manner ultimately compromises the public’s trust in police testimony at trial. The last time I was in a jury pool a number of people stood and told tales of police harassment and the use of false reports of the odor of marijuana to justify such. They claimed to be unable to believe police testimony as inheritly truthful. After telling their individual stories to the judge they were all excused from the pool.


  • AmyS


  • christy

    this is stupid tenaha has all new officers.. you people need to get a life