University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Musso v. County of Los Angeles JC-CA-0021
Docket / Court BC249462 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
The case arose from the August 15, 2000 misdemeanor arrests of 71 bicyclists engaged in a protest at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The cyclists were charged with reckless driving and were turned over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for processing at the Los Angeles Inmate ... read more >
The case arose from the August 15, 2000 misdemeanor arrests of 71 bicyclists engaged in a protest at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The cyclists were charged with reckless driving and were turned over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for processing at the Los Angeles Inmate Reception Center. Prior to their detention, the male arrestees were subjected to pat-down searches and removal of personal property, while the females were subjected to pre-arraignment strip searches and visual body cavity examinations by female officers. The female arrestees were also subjected to a second strip search the following day, after a court had already ordered that they be released from custody. Both the men and women claimed that they were held at least twelve hours after all charges against them had been dismissed.

On April 27, 2001, six plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a class consisting of the 71 bicycle protestors who were subjected to the "mass arrest" of August 15, 2000. The female plaintiffs alleged that they were illegally strip-searched and both the male and female plaintiffs complained that they were improperly arrested, improperly detained after the court ordered their release, and subjected to inadequate conditions of confinement.

At the time of this incident, it was the practice of guards at some LA facilities to conduct strip searches and visual body cavity inspections of all arrestees before introducing them into the general jail population. That policy had been challenged more generally in Williams v. County of Los Angeles (see JC-CA-0033 of this database). The judge in the Musso case tried to transfer it to the Williams court on grounds that it was a related case. However, because Williams had an appeal pending at the time of the attempted transfer, the Williams judge sent the Musso case back. Williams eventually settled in mid-2001 when the LASD acknowledged that the blanket strip search policy was illegal and in violation of California Penal Code Section 4030(f), which provided that misdemeanor and infraction arrestees may not be strip searched prior to arraignment unless (1) they are charged with an offense involving weapons, drugs, or violence or (2) there is reasonable suspicion that they are concealing a weapon or contraband. Williams settled for $27 million dollars (eventually shared among 40,000 claimants), but the Musso plaintiffs were expressly excluded from that settlement.

After two years of litigation, the Musso case was settled for $2.75 million. According to press accounts, each female plaintiff received $70,000 and each male plaintiff received $5000.

For more information on the ongoing reform of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department during this period, see PN-CA-0001 of this collection, which describes those efforts. In particular, the 19th semi-annual report of Special Counsel Merrick Bobb, available there, comments on the Musso case and changes to the LASD's strip search policies.

Dan Dalton - 07/03/2007


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) LA County Sheriff's Dept.
Twin Towers Correctional Facility (TTCF).
Plaintiff Description 23 female arrestees who were part of a group of bicyclists engaged in a protest at the 2000 Democratic National Convention that were arrested for misdemeanor violations and were then subjected to pre-arraignment strip searches and visual body cavity exams
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2003
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PN-CA-0001 : L.A. County Sheriff's Department (Kolts Report and Implementation) (No Court)
JC-CA-0033 : Williams v. County of Los Angeles (C.D. Cal.)
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)
2:01-cv-00538-R-JWJ (C.D. Cal.) 04/10/2001
JC-CA-0021-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
BC249462 (State Trial Court) 09/19/2003
JC-CA-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
General Documents
Order Re: Transfer 03/07/2001 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0021-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Dismissal 04/11/2001
JC-CA-0021-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Damages and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief 12/04/2001
JC-CA-0021-0003.pdf | Detail
Notice of Ruling 12/27/2001
JC-CA-0021-0005.pdf | Detail
Minutes of the Board of Supervisors, County of Los Angeles, State of California 03/25/2003
JC-CA-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Answer of Defendants 09/19/2003
JC-CA-0021-0004.pdf | Detail
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: 19th Semiannual Report by Special Counsel Merrick J. Bobb & Staff 02/01/2005
JC-CA-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Judges Johnson, Jeffrey W. (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JC-CA-0021-9001
Pfaelzer, Mariana R. (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0021-0006
Real, Manuel Lawrence (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0021-9001
Monitors/Masters Bobb, Merrick J. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Midgley, Timothy J. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0004 | JC-CA-0021-0005 | JC-CA-0021-9001
Watson, Carol A. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0005 | JC-CA-0021-0007 | JC-CA-0021-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Michael D. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0005
Delgadillo, Rockard (California)
JC-CA-0021-0004 | JC-CA-0021-0005
Geuss, Gary G. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0004
Hahn, James K. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003
Korn, Jeffrey W. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0004
Lawrence, David D. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0005
Lee, Cindy S. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0005
Marr, Cecil W. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0005
Paquette, Paul N. (California)
JC-CA-0021-0004
Sohn, Yong Woo (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0005
Vincent, Don (California)
JC-CA-0021-0003 | JC-CA-0021-0005
Other Lawyers None on record

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