Claiming that drug use was rampant on the property, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the U.S. Attorney's Office here began attempts to seize the property last month using a process called asset forfeiture. Former RFT staff writer Keegan Hamilton (now with our sister paper, the Seattle Weekly) outlined numerous problems with that process in a series of blog posts.
But we're not really alone. Yesterday, St. Louis Public Radio also devoted some time to the Camp Zoe seizure in its Legal Roundtable. Leading KWMU's discussion was host Don Marsh; the point man on the Camp Zoe issue was David Roland, director of litigation for the Freedom Center of Missouri.
But Roland also mentioned something we didn't know. Apparently, he explained, Missouri's constitution expressly bars an "estate" from being subject to forfeiture. Law enforcement can (and does) seize "cars, guns, and cash," but the process is "rarely used against real property. The Missouri Constitution does not tolerate attempts to claim real estate," Roland said.
Roland mentioned that he's been in touch with lawyers for Jimmy Tebeau, the musician who owns Camp Zoe. And while he's not directly involved with the case at this point, he says he sees great potential for a test case. "I would love to be able to advance constitutional claims on this," he told host Marsh.
You can click on Windows Media or download the MP3 file here to listen to the whole thing. The Camp Zoe discussion starts in the second minute and continues for roughly five minutes.