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I'd be suing like crazy now if I was in his position. And anyways, since computer hardware depreciates like crazy, wouldn't he be in a position to get cash to make up the lost value? Don't know about that one, but it would be the right thing.

A few law enforcement types are going to lose their jobs soon, I take it. (And if they were connected with this farce of a case, all the better)

In the US, the state is almost never liable for damages if the officers are performing their duties in good faith. This is true even if the officers (mistakenly) execute a completely illegal warrant leading to substantial financial damages to an innocent citizen. Obviously, this sets up terrible incentives for the state (why bother to double check your facts and procedures if there are no repercussions for getting things wrong?), but that's how the law is.

That's pretty much legalized tyranny then.

Yes it is: and like a number of such things, it stems from the War On (Non-White People Who Use) Drugs. The incentives regarding property seizure in narcotics cases are even more perverse, and lead to brazen de facto theft.

I think it was back in the 80s that Jello Biafra was arrested on drug charges and had property seized. The sheriff's office was able to legally sell the seized property before his trial. I don't know what happened to that law, hopefully it's been fixed since...

Civil forfeiture is based on a simple preponderance of the evidence, and has not changed.

But most people don't realize this, and they don't vote accordingly. So it persists and grows.

I think that's hyperbole. I understand the whole "damn the man" cynicism thing you got going on but there's two sides to the coin. When you work for law enforcement you get orders and you carry them out. These people are just like anyone else; honest people trying to get by. If anything it should be the ones giving orders who get canned.

>When you work for law enforcement you get orders and you carry them out. These people are just like anyone else; honest people trying to get by. If anything it should be the ones giving orders who get canned.

You could say the same thing about the cops in Russia who raid businesses that have gotten on the wrong side of the state or its business network. Of course it should be the ones who give the orders who get canned. But noone gets canned.

The definition of tyranny is "arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power". That accurately describes the current situation where authorities can, with no risk to themselves, freely take your property and destroy your livelihood even when you've broken no laws. The fact that the US can even do this to people in other countries should be concerning to anyone who values rule of law.

This is the whole point of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

"I merely played my part"

Don't forget the Milgram Experiment:



And the good ole Elevator Experiment:


Ugh I knew that either the prison experiment or Nazis would come up. Hyperbole. It's a real fine line and equating some of the things people have retorted with to what's happened with MegaUpload isn't fair. They're not n the same level. Yeah, there's potential for abuse but at the same time I see this as a necessary evil. You trust and hope that they get things right most of the time. That's the social contract we all enter into unless we want anarchy.

But all I was saying is try to see things as the other side would. As the guys carrying out orders would. We have a hard time putting ourselves in others' shoes around here. Try it out and maybe what I said will sound just a little more reasonable.

They're all functionally the same thing, as in they all relate to the same principal:

"Doing bad things just because you were told to do so doesn't absolve you of the responsibility for doing bad things"

It applies whether you are a cop, a third reich officer, an employee at a corporation, whatever. The principal still stands.

First, making an honest mistake does not give you automatic immunity in any other legal area, and there's no obvious reason it should here. If I'm a private contractor following the instruction of Cisco systems and I destroy the electrical system in your house, I have to pay for it even if it's an honest mistake. Now, it's perfectly fine for Cisco and I to agree as a condition of my employment that they will take on responsibility for any damage I cause in their employ, but that's between Cisco and me.

If if we wanted to give such automatic immunity, the way to do this is simply to assume that an agreement like the one described above has been made: i.e., the government should have to compensate you. If state, acting as a collection of flawed humans, harms an innocent person, the state as a whole should have to compensate that person.

In the US, the police can take anything they want from you without compensation. For example, if you have a sports car and the police need to chase a suspect, they can take your car. If they crash it into a bridge and it explodes in a big ball of fire, that's your problem, not theirs.

>In the US, the police can take anything they want from you without compensation.

I think you are mostly wrong here, and WALoeIII 2 is mostly right, but I wanted to add some detail.

Certainly, if the police destroy your property inadvertently while pursuing a criminal, they are under no obligation to compensate you. It's considered tantamount to the criminal having destroyed it (and so you might be able to seek redress from him). But, it looks like if the police commandeer your property, they do in fact have a responsibility to compensate you, a la eminent domain. The Straight Dope article has good details. Choice quote:

> In United States v. Russell the Supreme Court was faced with a claim for three steamers commandeered by military authorities during the Civil War. The Russell court found it obvious that "the taking of such property under such circumstances creates an obligation on the part of the government to reimburse the owner to the full value of the service." The court continued, "private rights, under such extreme and imperious circumstances, must give way for the time to the public good, but the government must make full restitution for the sacrifice." The court concluded that the obligation to make full restitution was based on an implied promise "on the part of the United States to reimburse the owner for the use of the steamboats and for his own services and expenses, and for the services of the crews during the period the steamboats were employed in transporting government freight pursuant to those orders."

That said, things aren't always so clear:

>The Supreme Court hasn't said what happens if equipment is borrowed and returned damaged, but lower courts have been reluctant to award compensation in such cases. In Blackman v. City of Cincinnati, for instance, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to compensate a vehicle owner for a crash that occurred when police ordered him to chase a fleeing suspect. Other courts have followed suit.


A Judge dismissed a lawsuit regarding a Ferrari that the Feds accidentally crashed while joyriding in it.


I think the second quote was what was stuck in my mind when I wrote that comment. I knew I read about this somewhere; probably on The Straight Dope. Thanks for sharing the correction and context.

"In the US, the police can take anything they want from you without compensation."

This is an outrageous statement.

There are special exceptions to the law, but the 4th Amendment of the Constitution explicitly protects citizens from illegal search and seizure.


Sure, that's the law - but that is not the practice, that's not the facts on the ground. The moral panics over drugs and terrorism have expanded police powers such that it is de facto possible for the police forces to just steal from you. It's not legally theft: they've just redefined it, basically. It's similar to how the US government just effectively says "the things we do aren't torture, because we're doing them, and we condemn others for doing these things because they're torture."

If you have money, you have some recourse - but if you're an average citizen, the police can with any sort of drug- or terrorism-related charge, even if you are acquitted or the charges are dropped, de facto steal your shit and not reimburse you at all.

You can quote the 4th amendment all you like, let me introduce you to what they actually do if you have something they would like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asset_forfeiture

That's not all that protective when it comes down to it - all you need to do is redefine what 'unreasonable' means in law.

It's 'unreasonable' and not 'illegal' by the way - and the latter would be even easier to get around, because you just legislate 'this is legal now', no semantic tricks required.

> illegal search and seizure

Yes, exactly. That is why so many outrageous search and seizure laws have been passed, thus making them legal.

Considering they were renting most(all?) of the hardware from third parties I doubt they were able to capitalize and hence realize deprecation on the servers. Its possible if the agreement was some sort of a "lease to buy" arrangement but I doubt it.

I wouldn't be surprised if the "law enforcement types" who lost their jobs because of this mess-up immediately got hired by the MAFIAA. Provided that anyone actually loses jobs in the first place, which I doubt.

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