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Federal Judge Approves Challenge To Arizona's Forfeiture Laws

Earlier this year, Arizona lawmakers made it easier for citizens to file court complaints against law enforcement agencies that take their assets.

Now, a U.S. District Judge has approved a broad based challenge to Arizona's forfeiture laws that could limit law enforcement agencies from taking or keeping assets at all.

The judge noted in her filing that several law enforcement agencies rely entirely on forfeiture dollars to fund major public and, in some cases, personal projects.

The San Tan Valley case filed in Pinal County involves Rhonda Cox who lost her truck when police discovered her son had replaced the hood and bed cover with stolen parts. With the federal court's approval, her attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou said he and the ACLU can now move forward to prove the state's assets and forfeiture laws are unconstitutional.

"The center of the lawsuit was always about the fact that police in Arizona and prosecutors in Arizona have a direct financial incentive to seize as much property as they can without regards to due process," he told Capitol Media Services.

As it stands, Cabou argued before the federal judge, his client and other Arizonans are forced to prove their innocence, while the state has none of the burden to prove guilt.

A hearing on the case is set for next month.

Holliday Moore is a native Arizonan and veteran journalist who joined KJZZ’s news team in January 2017.Moore graduated from Arizona State University after double majoring in mass communications and marketing/management. She spent her first two decades reporting for television news, beginning in small markets and working up to congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C., for a political news service.Family commitments in Arizona brought her back to the Southwest, where she covered legislative and court beats for Albuquerque’s KRQE-TV and the infamous Four Corner Manhunt as KREZ-TV’s managing editor.Back home in Phoenix, she developed ABC15’s “Democracy Project,” now instituted at all Scripps’ news stations nationwide. Her work garnered “Best Practices” recognition by the Poynter Institute and the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.Her television reports, from sports to cultural issues, earned her multiple Emmy and Associated Press nominations, including a Rocky Mountain Emmy for her Hopi Partition Land Act coverage.As she started a family, Moore started her own media production agency, producing magazine-style travel stories for the Emmy-winning Arizona Highways Television show while working part time for a Valley radio station. She is convinced radio is where visual, sound, and print are merging through deeper storytelling. In her relatively short time with radio network affiliates, she has won four Edward R. Murrow Awards and multiple nominations from other professional news societies.Moore now teaches advanced broadcast writing to the next generation of reporters at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where a high percentage have gone on to receive national awards for their work in her class. She enjoys being back home near childhood friends and sharing the beautiful Arizona desert with her husband and young son.