On the Issues

Here are the federal bills the Due Process Institute is tracking today

H.R. 6729: Empowering Financial Institutions to Fight Human Trafficking Act of 2018
Position:
Oppose


On its face, this legislation would create special protection from all civil liability for nonprofit groups wishing to report suspicions of human trafficking or related financial activity, even if the report would otherwise violate privacy laws or the report was made in bad faith. More importantly, the bill would encourage the sharing of these suspicions to a wide range of businesses, which might cause serious economic repercussions for individuals accused of wrongdoing, without any due process. The bill also contains a wide swath of regulations that are a disguised effort to expand surveillance powers that exist under the Patriot Act that should be limited to extraordinary circumstances.

For more details, please read our opposition letter HERE.

H.R. 5682: FIRST STEP Act 

Position: Support


The FIRST STEP Act, a bipartisan prison reform bill, passed the House of Representatives 360-59. The legislation opens up more opportunities for federal inmates to lower their risk of recidivism by going through a risk and needs assessment, and then working on programming that address those risks and needs. By doing so, prisoners earn time towards a halfway house or home confinement. This is the leading piece of criminal justice reform legislation in Congress this session.

S. 3118: Mens Rea Reform Act of 2018

Position: Support


Proposed by Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, this bill would support a meaningful review of the intent requirements of federal criminal laws. This is an essential part of due process.

H.R. 2128: Due Process Restoration Act of 2017 

Position: Support


This bill would allow parties subject to an administrative proceeding under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to compel the SEC to instead file a civil action. This protects the party from continuing in a proceeding without due process rights, including the right to a jury trial and rights regarding evidence.

H.R. 1843: Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools Act (RESPECT Act)  

S. 824: Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools Act (RESPECT Act)  

Position: Support


This legislation would stop the Internal Revenue Service from pursuing forfeitures relating to technical violations of the "structuring" law unless the structuring was purposely done to hide evidence of a crime.

H.R. 1555: FAIR Act “Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act of 2017”

S. 642: FAIR Act “Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act of 2017”

Position: Support


This comprehensive reform of federal civil forfeiture would make significant changes to the system, including, most importantly: a) expanding the ability for indigent challengers to receive counsel from the Legal Services Corporation; (b) increasing the burden of proof from "preponderance of evidence" to "clear and convincing evidence;" (c) requiring all forfeited materials to be deposited into the general fund of the treasury;  (d) adding the intent term "knowingly" to the structuring statute; and (e) setting forth clear parameters for determining if the civil forfeiture was constitutionally excessive.

  

H.R. 1795: DUE PROCESS Act “Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights Of Citizens from Excessive Searches and Seizures Act of 2017” 

Position: Support


This bill amends the federal criminal code to revise provisions related to federal civil forfeiture cases. Specifically, the bill:
- raises the evidentiary standard in such cases from "preponderance of the evidence" to "clear and convincing" evidence;
- with respect to property owners who are indigent, provides for the appointment of counsel;
- provides for recovery of attorney's fees with respect to settled claims in which the claimant prevails;
- adds notice requirements; and
- expedites and otherwise modifies certain procedures.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) must: (1) annually audit federal civil forfeiture cases, and (2) establish a publicly available database with respect to seizures in such cases. (Summary courtesy of CRS)