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Case Name Shain v. Ellison JC-NY-0016
Docket / Court 0:96-cv-03774-LDW ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On July 29, 1996, a previous pretrial detainee at the Nassau county Correctional Center (NCCC) filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the County Sheriff, an unnamed assistant district attorney, and a family court judge ... read more >
On July 29, 1996, a previous pretrial detainee at the Nassau county Correctional Center (NCCC) filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the County Sheriff, an unnamed assistant district attorney, and a family court judge alleging excessive use of force, unconstitutional strip search, false arrest, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution. He also sought a declaration that New York State Family Court Act § 155(2) which allowed his overnight incarceration without bail, was unconstitutional. On April 16, 1997, the court (Judge Leonard Wexler) entered a stipulated order dismissing all claims against the family court judge who had arraigned the plaintiff and remanded him to the NCCC without bail, but left the judge as a defendant in name only to permit the challenge to §155(2) to proceed. On January 9, 1998, the court (Judge Wexler) sua sponte dismissed the family court judge as a defendant. On December 31, 1998, the defendants moved for summary judgment on all of the plaintiff's claims, and plaintiff made a cross motion for summary judgment. In an oral decision the court (Judge Wexler) granted the motion to dismiss the claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process claims--reserving the excessive force and strip search claims for trial.

On June 1, 1999, while trial on the excessive force issue was being held, the court (Judge Wexler) granted summary judgment in plaintiff's favor on the unconstitutional strip search issue. Shain v. Ellison, 53 F.Supp.2d 564 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). The court found that the Fourteenth Amendment unequivocally precludes prison officials from performing strip searches on arrestees charged with minor offenses without a reasonable suspicion that the person is concealing a weapon or contraband. The court also found that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity because the unconstitutionality of a blanket strip search policy had been clearly established as far back as 1986.

A jury rejected the plaintiff's excessive force claim and awarded no damages for the strip search. Plaintiff moved to set aside the verdict and asked for a new trial. On November 12, 1999, the court (Judge Wexler) denied the motion and awarded plaintiff $1 in nominal damages for the strip search claim.

The defendants and the plaintiff appealed. On October 19, 2001, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Rosemary Pooler) found that the strip search policy was unconstitutional and that the law was clearly established, therefore the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. Shain v. Ellison, 273 F.3d 56 (2nd Cir. 2001). The court also found that the plaintiff had standing, that the district court's denial of a new trial on damages was not error, and that the district court's dismissal of the false arrest, abuse of process, and excessive force claims were proper. As to the § 155(2) claim, the court found that the district court was not in error by dismissing the district judge as a defendant because there was no realistic danger that the plaintiff would face the same harm again. Finally, the court found that although the plaintiff requested an injunction against future enforcement of the blanket strip search policy, the district court had neither granted or denied the request and therefore remanded to the district court to make the necessary findings.

On September 17, 2002, the district court (Judge Wexler) enjoined the defendants from enforcing a blanket strip search policy. Both the plaintiff and the defendants appealed. On January 20, 2004 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Barrington Daniels Parker Jr.) vacated the injunction because the plaintiff lacked standing to seek injunctive relief. Shain v. Ellison, 356 F.3d 211 (2nd Cir. 2004). The case was remanded to the district court with instructions to vacate for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiffs made a motion for attorney's fees and on December 20, 2004, the district court (Judge Wexler) entered a stipulated order for the settlement of attorney's fees. The PACER docket for the district court ends on December 20, 2004. We have no further proceedings or opinions for this case.

Jaclyn Adams - 04/05/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Nassau
Plaintiff Description Misdemeanor detainee who was strip-searched at the county correctional facility.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2002 - 2004
Case Closing Year 2004
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)
96-3774 (E.D.N.Y.) 12/20/2004
JC-NY-0016-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order [Declaring Search Policy Unconstitutional] 06/01/1999 (53 F.Supp.2d 564) (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0016-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
[Opinion Affirming the District Court's Decision and Remanding the Issue of an Injunction] 10/19/2001 (273 F.3d 56)
JC-NY-0016-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion [Vacating the Injunction and Dismissing for Lack of Standing] 01/20/2004 (356 F.3d 211)
JC-NY-0016-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Stipulation of Settlement of Attorney's Fee Motion 12/20/2004
JC-NY-0016-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cabranes, Jose Alberto (Second Circuit, D. Conn., FISCR)
JC-NY-0016-0003 | JC-NY-0016-0004
Katzmann, Robert A. (Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Parker, Barrington Daniels Jr. (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0016-0004
Pooler, Rosemary S. (N.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Rakoff, Jed Saul (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0016-0004
Wexler, Leonard D. (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0016-0001 | JC-NY-0016-0002 | JC-NY-0016-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Freedman, Spencer B. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0004 | JC-NY-0016-9000
Herbst, Robert L. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0001 | JC-NY-0016-0002 | JC-NY-0016-0003 | JC-NY-0016-0003 | JC-NY-0016-0004 | JC-NY-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Belohlavek, Michael S. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Clavin, Donald X. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-9000
Clines, Peter J. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0004
Devlin, Robert P. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Fischer, Carol (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Forte, Robert E. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Goodman, Lorna B. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0001 | JC-NY-0016-0004
Kalapoutis, Taso (New York)
JC-NY-0016-9000
Millus, Paul F. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0002 | JC-NY-0016-0003 | JC-NY-0016-9000
Pauley, William H. III (New York)
JC-NY-0016-9000
Saffran, Dennis J. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0001 | JC-NY-0016-9000
Spitzer, Eliot (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Other Lawyers Alberton, Kathleen (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Boston, John (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Brinckerhoff, Matthew D. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Cuti, John R. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Emery, Richard D. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Greenberg, Jack (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Hess, Michael D. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Johnson, Laura R. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Kerr, Sarah (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Morrison, Nina (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Pollack, Gayle (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003 | JC-NY-0016-0003
Sonnenshein, Larry A. (New York)
JC-NY-0016-0003
Turpen, Michael C. (Oklahoma)
JC-NY-0016-0003

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