University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Butler v. Santa Cruz County JC-CA-0024
Docket / Court 5:07-cv-00941-JF ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On February 12, 2007, an arrestee, represented by private attorney Mark E. Merin, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in order to challenge the County Sheriff's policies and practices concerning the use of strip and ... read more >
On February 12, 2007, an arrestee, represented by private attorney Mark E. Merin, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in order to challenge the County Sheriff's policies and practices concerning the use of strip and visual body cavity searches in Santa Cruz County Jail. Plaintiff, who was arrested on outstanding warrants for vehicle code violations, alleged that officers routinely subjected detainees in their custody to strip and visual body cavity searches before they were arraigned and without having any reasonable suspicion that the detainees possessed contraband or weapons. He alleged that such practices violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as California state law. To remedy the alleged violations, Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and class certification.

On July 2, 2008, the parties filed a settlement agreement. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants agree to pay $3,875,000 in damages to a class of parties who had been wrongfully strip-searched by the defendants. Members of the plaintiff class would receive $1,250 if they had been wrongfully searched when booked for a misdemeanor, and they would receive $750 if they had been wrongfully searched when booked for a felony. They would receive an additional $500 if they were under 21 or over 60, had a physical or mental disability, or were pregnant at the time of the search. The settlement also covered attorneys fees and administrative costs of the settlement.

On January 28, 2009, the district court (Judge Jeremy Fogel) issued a final approval of the settlement and dismissed the case.

Kristen Sagar - 02/25/2009


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
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Santa Cruz County
Plaintiff Description Those who were subject to unreasonable strip and/or visual body cavity searches by the Defendants at the Santa Cruz County Jail without Defendants having a reasonable suspicion that the searches would be productive of contraband.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2008 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2009
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)
5:07-cv-00941-JF (N.D. Cal.) 01/28/2009
JC-CA-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 02/14/2007
JC-CA-0024-0001.pdf | Detail
Answer 03/09/2007
JC-CA-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation of Settlement 07/02/2008
JC-CA-0024-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion for Final Approval of Settlement; and Granting Motion for Approval ofStiulated Attorneys Fees and Costs 01/28/2009 (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0024-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Fogel, Jeremy D. (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0024-0004 | JC-CA-0024-9000
Seeborg, Richard G. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JC-CA-0024-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kaizuka, Joshua (California)
JC-CA-0024-0003
Merin, Mark E. (California)
JC-CA-0024-0001 | JC-CA-0024-0003 | JC-CA-0024-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Heath, Jason M (California)
JC-CA-0024-0003 | JC-CA-0024-9000
Hill, Julia (California)
JC-CA-0024-0002 | JC-CA-0024-9000
McRae, Dana (California)
JC-CA-0024-0002 | JC-CA-0024-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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