Section 90

Section 90 Civil Forfeiture Commission

There shall be a special commission governed by section 2A of chapter 4 of the General Laws to study civil asset forfeiture policies and practices in the commonwealth. The commission shall consist of the following 21 members: the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on the judiciary, who shall serve as co-chairs of the commission; the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on public safety and homeland security; 1 person to be appointed by the minority leader of the house of representatives; 1 person to be appointed by the minority leader of the senate; the attorney general or a designee; the secretary of public safety and security or a designee; the chair of the Massachusetts commission against discrimination or a designee; the chief justice of the supreme judicial court or a designee; the president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, Inc. or a designee; the president of the Massachusetts District Attorney Association or a designee; the chief counsel of the committee for public counsel services or a designee; the colonel of state police or a designee; a representative from the Massachusetts Bar Association; a representative from the Boston Bar Association; a representative from the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Inc.; a representative from the State Police Association of Massachusetts; a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Inc.; a representative from the Boston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a representative from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

The study shall include, but not be limited to: (i) an evaluation of the standard of proof required for law enforcement in the commonwealth to establish that property seized is related to a crime, as compared to the standard imposed in other states; (ii) a review of current documentation and reporting obligations for law enforcement, including the extent to which law enforcement records whether the property's owner was charged with or convicted of a crime, and any recommendations for enhanced or additional reporting requirements; (iii) an analysis of the scope of civil asset forfeiture in the commonwealth, including an estimate of the total value of assets seized annually, the average value of assets seized in a case and a breakdown by percentage of the underlying offenses giving rise to the forfeiture; (iv) an examination of how civil asset forfeiture proceeds are allocated and spent in the commonwealth; (v) an evaluation of the process by which property owners may challenge a seizure, including the percentage of seizure proceedings challenged annually, the percentage of successful challenges and the average cost of bringing a challenge; (vi) an analysis of any racial or socioeconomic disparities in the application of civil asset forfeiture laws in the commonwealth; and (vii) a review of best practices undertaken in other states.

The commission shall hold its first meeting not later than 30 days after the effective date of this act and shall meet at least monthly thereafter. The commission shall submit a report of its study and any recommendations, together with any draft legislation necessary to carry those recommendations into effect, by filing the same with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate not later than December 31, 2019.