Previously, I wrote of my plan to introduce what I'd termed "prosecutorial budget-sharing" into the California Libertarian Party platform ( http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/01/26/095402.php ). On February 18, 2005, the CLP's Platform Committee convened at the LAX Sheraton
Gateway Hotel. There I proposed the following new plank to the committee:
Because a person is innocent until proven guilty, whenever any governmental entity fines, or tries to expropriate money or other property (as in civil asset forfeiture), or demands compliance to a law or regulation that a defendant feels has been misapplied or misinterpreted, then there must first be a jury trial, and the prosecutor shall be required to estimate his budget at the start of court or administrative proceedings and turn over an equal amount to the defendant to be used for the defendant's legal defense. Whenever the prosecutor goes over budget, he shall simultaneously pay an equal amount to the defendant. If the defendant is found guilty after expending all appeals, he shall be required to refund said amounts, with interest at market rates.
During the ensuing discussion, committee member M. Carling worried that my proposal legitimized civil asset forfeiture and other laws and regulations that the CLP seeks to abolish. I countered that I merely sought to mitigate the damage done by such regulations, until their abolishment. Several members were bothered by the requirement that interest be paid. In the end, Antelope Valley's Jason Gonella suggested that my proposal was more appropriate for the Program Committee. When others concurred, I submitted my proposal to the Program Committee, which was meeting a few rooms down the hall.
The CLP's Platform is a somewhat utopian declaration of the party's principles and end goals, whereas its Legislative Program is a more pragmatic list of the nuts-and-bolts policies the party hopes to advance in the near future through
The Program Committee improved my proposal's language and resolved that it be added to the CLP Legislative Program under Section IV, as Item 6. Their resolution, passed by unanimous consent, read as follows:
Government fines, civil commitments and prosecutions can be as damaging as criminal prosecution. While in cases of criminal prosecution, the defendant is entitled to representation, no such right exists in civil cases.