University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Betancourt v. Giuliani JC-NY-0054
Docket / Court 97-6748 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
The Urban Justice Center filed this putative federal class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on September 11, 1997, challenging the arbitrary arrests and subsequent strip searches of homeless people sitting on park benches under 28 U.S.C § 1983 ... read more >
The Urban Justice Center filed this putative federal class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on September 11, 1997, challenging the arbitrary arrests and subsequent strip searches of homeless people sitting on park benches under 28 U.S.C § 1983 and state law. Plaintiff sought to enjoin the enforcement of the law and the strip-search policy, and sought damages for class members.

On December 26, 2000, Magistrate Judge Martin granted partial summary judgment, upholding the City policy allowing the police to arrest homeless people for sleeping in cardboard boxes in public, but allowing the challenge to the strip-search policy of the NYPD to go forward. The court also denied class-certification to the plaintiffs. The case subsequently settled for $15,000; collateral litigation led to an additional payment of $55,000 in attorneys fees.

The district court's finding that the New York City Code Sec. 16-122 was not unconstitutionally vague as applied was upheld in the 2nd Circuit on appeal by Judge Kearse, with Judge Calabresi dissenting.

Blase Kearney - 04/09/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New York City Police Department
Plaintiff Description A homeless main arrested and strip-searched by the NYPD for obstruction of a public space.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2003
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No. 97CIV6748 JSM (S.D.N.Y.) 08/11/2006
JC-NY-0054-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Opinion 12/26/2000 (2000 WL 1877071) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0054-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Decision and Order 07/13/2004 (325 F.Supp.2d 330) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0054-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 05/18/2006 (448 F.3d 547)
JC-NY-0054-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Calabresi, Guido (Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0054-0003
Kearse, Amalya Lyle (Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0054-0003
Marrero, Victor (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0054-0004 | JC-NY-0054-0005 | JC-NY-0054-9000
Winter, Ralph K. Jr. (FISCR, Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0054-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Lasdon, Douglas (New York)
JC-NY-0054-9000
Leffell, Daniel J. (New York)
JC-NY-0054-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Fredericks, Albert (New York)
JC-NY-0054-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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