Billy Binion Profile picture
Apr 27 8 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
At the Supreme Court yesterday, a lawyer argued it was fair & just when a county took an old lady's home, sold it & kept the profit—over an unpaid tax bill.

I wanted to share a few highlights, bc it shows how far the gov't will go to preserve its right to violate you. A thread.
A reminder that this is the case of the 94-year-old woman whose home was taken by the government after she fell $2,300 behind on her taxes.

They added $13,000 in penalties, sold the home for $40,000, and kept the profit. /2…
During arguments, Kagan asked if there were any limits to this practice. Could the government seize a $5 million dollar house over a small tax debt?

Arguing for the government, lawyer Neal Katyal said: Well, yes it could!

That should scare you. /3…
That's already happening, by the way.

An elderly woman in Nebraska lost her *million-dollar* farm over a small tax debt. A woman in Michigan lost her *300,000* home over a small tax debt. I could go on. /4…
But the best exchange was with Justice Barrett, who asked if the gov't could seize a car over $20 in parking tickets.

Katyal said no, bc there "is no tradition that goes back that could be looked to."

"Well there weren't cars then..." said Barrett. 💀…
The good news: The government was humiliated & the Court seemed likely to side with Geraldine.

The bad news: The government's embarrassingly flimsy arguments *worked* in previous courts, which partially explains how governments have been able to steal from their own citizens. /6
After all, civil forfeiture is still legal. The government can take everything you have over a mere accusation. Without due process.

Like the time it took almost *$1 million* from this family without ever filing criminal charges. Shouldn't be normal! /7…
I'll end here: Geraldine asked her lawyer how much longer this would take, because, at 94 years old, "I haven't got forever."

She spent some of her final years—almost a decade—fighting this, because *this* is the hill the gov't chose to die on. It's vile, & I hope SCOTUS agrees.

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More from @billybinion

May 25
THREAD: Today, the Supreme Court unanimously vindicated 94-year-old Geraldine Tyler. A few years ago, the government took her home, sold it over a small tax debt—and *kept the profit.*

The ruling is amazing news. Here's what that means for her—and for the many victims like her. Image
Geraldine fell $2,300 behind on her property taxes. Local bureaucrats added on $13,000 in penalties, sold the home for $40,000—and kept the remainder.

Today's ruling means that she is entitled to the $25,000 the government stole from her. /2…
Tawanda Hall fell $900 behind on her taxes. With fees, she owed $22,642. The gov't seized her home—valued at over $300,000—and kept the change.

Today's ruling means the gov't cannot steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity from folks like Tawanda.… Image
Read 6 tweets
May 1
This story is beyond perverse. Oklahoma’s Attorney General—a conservative Republican—told the parole board it was imperative Richard Glossip not be executed. It’s the first time in state history an AG has done so.

And the state is executing him anyway, because it can.
The misconduct in this case is staggering. Prosecutors withheld evidence—and destroyed some—that was potentially helpful to Glossip’s defense. And the cops contaminated the star witness, who only implicated Glossip after police fed him his name 6 times during an interrogation.
On top of all that, an independent investigation found new evidence that “would likely have led to a different outcome in the case.” It almost feels like the state is executing Glossip to cover its tracks. It’s totally reprehensible.
Read 6 tweets
Apr 26
Thread: The Supreme Court is hearing a big case tomorrow. It should unite everyone: left, right & center. And the national press has almost totally ignored it.

It centers on an elderly woman who fell behind on her taxes. So the county took her home, sold it, and kept the profit. Image
Her name is Geraldine Tyler. After falling $2,300 behind on her property taxes, the county added $13,000 in penalties, interests & fees.

When she couldn't pay, they seized her condo—valued at $93,000—sold it for $40,000, and kept the leftover $25,000.…
The Supreme Court will decide if that's constitutional. It sounds like an easy case. But it has not been.

Multiple federal courts ruled against Geraldine, and said the government did nothing wrong by stealing her equity after it satisfied her debt.…
Read 7 tweets
Apr 5
In 2015, a 15-year-old named Lakeith Smith was charged with murder. He's now serving 30 years. The catch: Prosecutors know he didn't kill anyone.

A cop shot his friend during a burglary—& Smith was convicted of homicide. His case epitomizes some of our system's flaws. A thread.
Smith was convicted of felony murder, which allows the state to charge you with a killing you didn't commit if it happened during the commission of another crime.

So when a cop shot Smith's friend during a burglary, the state charged 4 teen boys with murder. /2
The other boys took plea deals. Two of them served 14 months. But Lakeith wanted a trial. So he originally got 65 years, which was reduced to 30.

The trial penalty in action. You have a constitutional right to a trial by jury, and you shouldn't be punished for using it. /3
Read 8 tweets
Apr 5
I say this without snark: I hope people outraged by Trump’s flimsy indictment take this as a lesson that prosecutors are totally unaccountable & can wield their enormous power against someone simply because they don’t like them. Most cases just don’t get front page news spreads.
Prosecutors can file false charges, lie under oath, conjure fake evidence, impanel false testimony, coerce witnesses—and there is nothing you can do to hold them to account. They are the top law enforcement officer, and they are often above the law.…
An example I recently covered: Prosecutors in Colorado charged a school principal w/ having child porn. But they knew he didn't have child porn.

He was investigating a sexting case. The state was mad he did the police's job after the SRO refused to help.…
Read 5 tweets
Mar 24
This is James King. In 2014, two law enforcement officers beat him to a pulp after they mistook him for the wrong person.

Almost 10 years later, King still can't sue. His case epitomizes how hard it is for victims of government abuse to seek justice. A thread.
King was walking alone when FBI agent Douglas Brownback & Grand Rapids detective Todd Allen accosted him. They were not in uniform & did not identify themselves as law enforcement.

"Are you mugging me?" King asked. He ran. So the officers tackled him & beat his face in. /2
Police then arrested King. But he was innocent. And that should've been obvious.

Cops were after someone who was accused of stealing liquor from a friend's apartment. That suspect is on the left. King is on the right. I'll let you decide if they look anything alike. /3
Read 7 tweets

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