Monday, December 20, 2010

Give the guy his signs back already

From the NY Times:

The question sounds simple enough: If the police take items from a man who they believe stole them, but he is never convicted of any crime, does he get the items back?

In New York, the answer is seldom straightforward, as William LeRoy has come to realize.

Mr. LeRoy, who owns Billy’s Antiques in Greenwich Village, is trying to reclaim possession of about 100 vintage subway signs that were seized as evidence upon his arrest on theft charges. With the charges now dismissed in Manhattan Criminal Court, Mr. LeRoy wants the signs back.

But the Manhattan district attorney’s office has said it does not have the authority to return them, and is unsure who the rightful owner is. The office told Mr. LeRoy that he may have to sue to get them back.

The district attorney’s stance is based mostly on a provision of the New York City administrative code, which essentially puts the burden on people who have property taken from them to prove they are the rightful owner.


Anonymous said...

So essentially, the police when armed with a search warrant can take any they please, and leave you to either prove that it is "rightfully" your..or leave it to the City to sell it at a seized property auction.

The basic questions in this case are:
-Were these items ever reported stolen.

-Were these signs replaced as part of routine maintenance or upgrade.

What records -if any- have been kept on them.

I have bought several new and used signs at the Transit Museum. If the Jackboots somehow gain access to my apt, why should I be stuck proving that I obtained them legitimately.

This dealer may, or may not be a shady character but it's time for major lawsuit with -real- damages to clarify things.

Anonymous said...

That sign can be recreated with just the Helvetica font that can be downloaded off Google - it's not a fuckin' Picasso!

Anonymous said...

I thought the right against illegal search & seizure was in our Bill of Rights. Time to get a constitutional lawyer.

Anonymous said...

I thought the right against illegal search & seizure was in our Bill of Rights.

It's not illegal if there's a warrant.

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between a "warrant" which merely compels the appearance of the property in a courtroom, and a "taking" which is the transfer of ownership. Since there was no crime here, there was no forfeiture of property. The city is simply using its de-facto possession of the property to force LeRoy to spend his time and money to recover his property. I wouldn't be surprised if the court ordered the city to pay LeRoy for his legal expenses.

ew-3 said...

"It's not illegal if there's a warrant."

Just because there's a warrant doesn't mean it's legal. In NAZI Germany the judges wrote many warrants.

The broader concern is that the government is still holding the property. It seems that this is all not that unusual. Happens a lot in drug cases and tax cases. It seems to me that government has taken on a life of it's own, and no longer is concerned with the governed.

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

Thomas Jefferson

Velvethead said...

After some four seasons of watching Pawn Stars on the History Channel, you'd think Mr. LeRoy would have procured paperwork on such potentially questionable transactions of one time city property.

Anonymous said...

He was found NOT GUILTY of having STOLEN Subway signs.He had them on the sidewalk for 12 years ...his "source"was not arrested.The DA is punishing him for having made public that they screwed up with his arrest.This a civil rights issue.