October 27, 2020

State will not reinstate no-judge property seizures

Mississippi lawmakers won’t allow police to resume seizing cash, guns and vehicles without going before a judge.

House Judiciary A Committee Chairman Mark Baker says his committee won’t consider House Bill 1104 , which would have reinstated a previous law. That means it will die on the Tuesday deadline for legislation to advance.

The measure would have allowed police to take property associated with illegal drugs, if an owner didn’t go to court.

The previous law lapsed June 30, although many police agencies didn’t notice. An Associated Press review found more than 60 forfeitures of property, valued at nearly $200,000, before police recognized the legal change.

Police and Gov. Phil Bryant supported the measure, but people wanting judicial oversight opposed it.

Agencies can still seize property with judicial approval.