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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Bynum v. District of Columbia JC-DC-0004
Docket / Court 1:02-CV-00956-RCL ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On May 15, 2002, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, plaintiffs filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that D.C. Jail officials violated their Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights in detaining them beyond ... read more >
On May 15, 2002, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, plaintiffs filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that D.C. Jail officials violated their Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights in detaining them beyond their release dates and violated their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights by conducting blanket strip searches.

According to the plaintiffs, the District routinely strip searched and rebooked prisoners returning from court, even when charges were dismissed or they were otherwise ordered released. The prisoners would then remain in unlawful custody for as many as several weeks.

The District moved to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim. The District Court (Judge Royce C. Lamberth) denied the motion and held that the second amended complaint stated valid claims under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Bynum v. District of Columbia, 257 F.Supp.2d 1 (D.D.C. 2002). The District then moved for summary judgment, which the District Court denied as premature, given that discovery had not yet begun. Bynum v. District of Columbia, 215 F.R.D. 1 (D.D.C. 2003).

On March 31, 2003, the District Court granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion for class certification. The certified class consisted of persons who were overdetained by any DC Department of Corrections facility in the three years preceding the filing of the case, up to and until the date the case was terminated. ("Overdetention Class"). Plaintiffs' request for a sub-class of strip searched persons ("Strip Search class") was denied without prejudice as the sub-class as defined didn't meet the numerosity requirement. Bynum v. District of Columbia, 214 F.R.D. 27 (D.D.C. 2003).

Plaintiffs filed a second motion to certify the Strip Search class, changing the class definition to consist of persons who were strip searched as part of their out processing from DC Department of Corrections custody. The Court granted plaintiffs' motion and certified the Strip Search class. Bynum v. District of Columbia, 217 F.R.D. 43 (D.D.C. 2003).

While denying a pattern and practice of overdetentions and strip searches, DC agreed in 2005 to pay $14 million to settle the lawsuit: $5 million to build a new Inmate Processing Center (IPC), $200,000 each to six named plaintiffs, over $4 million in attorney fees, and the balance to nearly 4,000 class members and administration fees. The average payment per class member was expected to be about $2,700, but the amount would vary based on the length of over-detention. The District Court (Judge Lamberth) preliminarily approved the settlement on August 25, 2005 and set the matter for a formal approval hearing. Bynum v. District of Columbia, 384 F.Supp.2d 342 (D.D.C. 2005).

Judge Lamberth issued a Final Approval Order after a fairness hearing in January 2006. Bynum v. District of Columbia, 412 F.Supp.2d 73 (D.D.C. 2006).

Rosenthal & Company was appointed as administrator of the class settlement fund. Harold W. Johnson, Jr. filed an emergency motion to stay the distribution of the class settlement funds, apparently challenging the list of class claimants. Following nearly a year of litigation on the issue, the District Court entered an order directing Rosenthal & Company to prepare a final list of class claimants to receive payment under the settlement, so that distribution of the funds could proceed. This case is closed.

Note that following the Bynum settlement, a new lawsuit was filed against the District, alleging that the practices of overdetention and strip searches continued despite the Bynum settlement. That case was styled Barnes v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 06-315 (RCL). [See JC-DC-5 of this collection].

Margo Schlanger - 11/02/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Over/Unlawful Detention
Strip search policy
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
Plaintiff Description Persons overdetained by the DC Department of Corrections, beginning May 16, 2002; persons scheduled to be released and subjected to strip search or visual body cavity search on return from court, without individualized suspicion.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2005 - 2007
Case Closing Year 2007
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-DC-0005 : Barnes v. District of Columbia (D.D.C.)
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)
02 Civ. 956 (RCL) (D.D.C.) 04/23/2007
JC-DC-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order (Denial of Motion to Dismiss) 11/18/2002 (257 F.Supp.2d 1) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [Denial of Summary Judgment] 03/31/2003 (215 F.R.D. 1) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Opinion [Re: Class Certification] 03/31/2003 (214 F.R.D. 27) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion [Motion for Class Certification] 08/11/2003 (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [Re: Protective Order] 08/11/2003 (217 F.R.D. 43) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Settlement Motion: Motion for Approval of Settlement of Class Action 06/16/2005
JC-DC-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Order Preliminarily Approving Settlement Class Notice and Notice of Hearing [Proposed] 06/16/2005 (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Settlement Agreement 06/27/2005
JC-DC-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Order Preliminarily Approving Settlement, Class Notice and Notice of Hearing 08/31/2005 (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Preliminarily Approving Settlement, Class Notice and Notice of Hearing 08/31/2005 (384 F.Supp.2d 342) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Final Approval Order 01/25/2006 (412 F.Supp.2d 73) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Lamberth, Royce C. (FISC, D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0004-0001 | JC-DC-0004-0003 | JC-DC-0004-0004 | JC-DC-0004-0006 | JC-DC-0004-0007 | JC-DC-0004-0008 | JC-DC-0004-0010 | JC-DC-0004-0011 | JC-DC-0004-0012 | JC-DC-0004-0014 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Claiborne, William Charles III (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0004-0005 | JC-DC-0004-0006 | JC-DC-0004-0007 | JC-DC-0004-0008 | JC-DC-0004-0010 | JC-DC-0004-0011 | JC-DC-0004-0012 | JC-DC-0004-0014 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Cunningham, Lynn E. (Wyoming)
JC-DC-0004-0005 | JC-DC-0004-0006 | JC-DC-0004-0007 | JC-DC-0004-0008 | JC-DC-0004-0010 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Estuar, Paul J. (California)
JC-DC-0004-0010 | JC-DC-0004-0011 | JC-DC-0004-0014 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Litt, Barrett S. (California)
JC-DC-0004-0005 | JC-DC-0004-0006 | JC-DC-0004-0007 | JC-DC-0004-0008 | JC-DC-0004-0010 | JC-DC-0004-0011 | JC-DC-0004-0012 | JC-DC-0004-0014 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Amato, Maria-Claudia T. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0004-0005 | JC-DC-0004-0006 | JC-DC-0004-0007 | JC-DC-0004-0008 | JC-DC-0004-0010 | JC-DC-0004-0011 | JC-DC-0004-0014 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Becker, Leonard H. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0004-0012 | JC-DC-0004-0014 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Love, Richard Stuart (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0004-0005 | JC-DC-0004-0006 | JC-DC-0004-0007 | JC-DC-0004-0008 | JC-DC-0004-0010
Porter, Veronica A. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0004-0011 | JC-DC-0004-9000
Spagnoletti, Robert J. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0004-0005 | JC-DC-0004-0008
Valentine, George C. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0004-0005 | JC-DC-0004-0007 | JC-DC-0004-0008 | JC-DC-0004-0010
Other Lawyers None on record

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