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Case Name Johnson v. District of Columbia JC-DC-0007
Docket / Court 1:02-cv-02364 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Attorney Organization Kaye, McLane, Bednarski & Litt
Case Summary
On December 2, 2002, nine female plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, filed this 42 U.S.C §1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs challenged the practice of the U.S. Marshal's Service and the District of Columbia of conducting ... read more >
On December 2, 2002, nine female plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, filed this 42 U.S.C §1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs challenged the practice of the U.S. Marshal's Service and the District of Columbia of conducting blanket strip, visual body cavity, and/or squat searches ("strip searches") of female arrestees that were being held in the Superior Court Cell Block of the D.C. Superior Court while awaiting presentment before a judicial officer. Specifically, the plaintiffs complained that the policy and practice of subjecting all female arrestees to strip searches in the absence of reasonable individualized suspicion violated the Fourth Amendment. The plaintiffs further complained that the practice of subjecting female arrestees but not similarly situated male arrestees to blanket strip searches violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and class certification. The class action complaint was amended twice in 2006.

Defendants denied all allegations and, on May 31, 2006, sought dismissal of the case on numerous grounds, including the defense of qualified immunity. On November 14, 2006, the District Court (Judge Rosemary M. Collyer) denied Defendants' motion to dismiss in its entirety. Johnson v. District of Columbia, 461 F.Supp.2d 48 (D.D.C. 2006). Defendants initially appealed, but the appeal was subsequently voluntarily dismissed. Johnson v. Government of District of Columbia, 2007 WL 1760078 (D.C.Cir. Jun 11, 2007).

On February 8, 2008, the District Court granted the plaintiff's motions for class certification. The Court designated two groups of classes, the Fifth Amendment Class and the Fourth Amendment Class.

The court defined the Fourth Amendment Class as, "Each woman who, during the Class Period (December 2, 1999, until April 25, 2003), was, (i) held in the Superior Court Cell Block; (ii) awaiting presentment under a statute of the District of Columbia; (iii) subjected to a blanket strip, visual body cavity and/or squat search; (iv) under similar circumstances for which male arrestees were not subjected to a blanket strip, visual body cavity and/or squat search."

The court defined the Fifth Amendment Class as, "each woman who, during the Class Period (December 2, 1999, until April 25, 2003), was, (i) held in the Superior Court Cell Block; (ii) awaiting presentment under a statute of the District of Columbia on either (a) a non-drug, non-violent traffic offense, (b) a non-drug, non- violent misdemeanor, or (c) a non-drug, non-violent felony; and (iii) subjected to a blanket strip, visual body cavity and/or squat search; (iv) without any individualized finding of reasonable suspicion or probable cause that she was concealing drugs, weapons or other contraband."

In this opinion, the District Court also dismissed all charges against the United States Marshall's Service.

On February 28, 2008, the plaintiffs filed a cross-claim against United States Superior Court Marshall Todd Dillard on the grounds that he caused them (separately and concurrently) to be subjected strip searches at the D.C. Superior Court cellblock in violation of the 4th and 5th amendments. And that by instituting and implementing a policy which subjected the plaintiffs, all women, to strip searches without individualized suspicion, the co-defendant is liable to the District for all, or part of the claims asserted by the plaintiff against the District of Columbia in this action, by virtue of his practice and policy. This crossclaim was partially in response to the District Court having previously dismissed the plaintiff's claims against the United States Marshall's Service.

On May 23, 2008, the District of Columbia filed for summary judgment for the charges against the District of Columbia. The District Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on October 31, 2008. The Court found that the District of Columbia cannot be liable to the plaintiffs as a matter of law on any of the theories they advance inasmuch as the Marshal was a federal official and not an employee, servant, agent or actor under the control of the District of Columbia, and inasmuch as the District of Columbia had no choice but to turn over arrestees to the Superior Court Marshal for presentment. This dismissal left the Marshall (Todd Dillard) as the sole defendant in this case.

On January 14, 2010, the District Court denied the plaintiff's motion to amend their complaint for the third time.

On April 5, 2010, the defendant filed for summary judgment on the plaintiffs' remaining claims against the Marshall.

On April 21, 2011, the District Court issued an opinion that granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The Court conceded that the record shows that during the class period female arrestees were subjected to a blanket practice of strip searches while many, if not most, male arrestees were not. It is nonetheless clear that former Marshal Dillard is entitled to qualified immunity from the Fourth Amendment claims. The Fifth Amendment claims similarly fail as the plaintiffs proffered no evidence that former Marshal Dillard purposefully discriminated by intending a gender disparity in search procedures. Summary judgment was denied to the plaintiffs on their Fourth Amendment claims and granted to Marshal Dillard on the Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims. Accordingly the case was dismissed from District Court.

On May 4, 2011, the plaintiffs filed an appeal to the DC Circuit Court.

On August 13, 2014 the DC Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming the District Court's summary judgment ruling for Superior Court Marshal, finding him entitled to qualified immunity. And also affirming the District Court's summary judgment ruling for the District of Columbia, concluding that because the Superior Court Marshal in charge of the cellblock was at all times a federal official acting under color of federal law, the city had no authority to prevent the strip searches.

Dan Dalton - 02/05/2008
Erin Pamukcu - 03/10/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Bivens
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) DC Superior Court
Government of the District of Columbia
United States Marshals Service
Plaintiff Description Females arrested in DC from 12/2/99 until case termination who were taken to the Superior Court for presentment on DC warrants or code offenses and who were subjected to strip searches while waiting for presentment before a DC Superior Court judge.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Kaye, McLane, Bednarski & Litt
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None yet
None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-DC-0006 : Bame v. Clark (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007 : Johnson 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)
1:02-cv-02364-RMC (D.D.C.) 08/13/2014
JC-DC-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Money Damages and Injunctive Relief 12/02/2002
JC-DC-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Class Action, First Amended Complaint for Money Damages and Injunctive Relief and Preliminary Injunction and Jury Demand 04/28/2006
JC-DC-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Federal Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 05/31/2006
JC-DC-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Order 11/14/2006 (461 F.Supp.2d 48) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Class Action Second Amended Complaint for Money Damages and Jury Demand 12/05/2006
JC-DC-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Order [Re: Motion to Dismiss] 06/11/2007 (2007 WL 1760078) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Opinion 02/08/2008 (248 F.R.D. 46) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/08/2008 (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
District of Columbia's Cross-Claim Against Todd Dillard in His Individual and Official Capacity 02/29/2008
JC-DC-0007-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 10/31/2008 (584 F.Supp.2d 83) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/31/2008 (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Proposed Order 10/09/2009 (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 01/11/2010 (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 04/21/2011 (780 F.Supp.2d 62) (D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 07/23/2012
JC-DC-0007-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 08/13/2014 (734 F.3d 1194)
JC-DC-0007-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Collyer, Rosemary M. (FISC, D.D.C.)
JC-DC-0007-0005 | JC-DC-0007-0006 | JC-DC-0007-0008 | JC-DC-0007-0009 | JC-DC-0007-0010 | JC-DC-0007-0011 | JC-DC-0007-0012 | JC-DC-0007-0014 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Garland, Merrick B. (D.C. Circuit)
JC-DC-0007-0013
Rogers, Judith Ann Wilson (D.C. Circuit)
JC-DC-0007-0013
Tatel, David S. (D.C. Circuit)
JC-DC-0007-0013 | JC-DC-0007-0016
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Claiborne, William Charles III (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0001 | JC-DC-0007-0002 | JC-DC-0007-0003 | JC-DC-0007-0011 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Cunningham, Lynn E. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0002
Cunningham, Lynn E. (Wyoming)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Day, Sean Robert (Maryland)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Estuar, Paul J. (California)
JC-DC-0007-0001 | JC-DC-0007-0002 | JC-DC-0007-0003 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Kleiman, Louis Allan (Virginia)
JC-DC-0007-0001 | JC-DC-0007-0002 | JC-DC-0007-0003 | JC-DC-0007-0015 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Litt, Barrett S. (California)
JC-DC-0007-0001 | JC-DC-0007-0002 | JC-DC-0007-0003 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Amato, Maria-Claudia T. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Baker, Denise J. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Becker, Leonard H. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Contreras, Rudolph (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0004 | JC-DC-0007-0011
Efros, Ellen A. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0007 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Goldfluss, Lisa Sheri (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0004 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Hildum, Robert (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Johnson, Holly Michelle (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Kim, Todd Sunhwae (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0015
Lawrence, R. Craig (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0015
McDaniel, Oliver W. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0004 | JC-DC-0007-0015 | JC-DC-0007-9000
McKay, James C. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0015
Meriweather, Robin Michelle (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Nebeker, William Mark (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0011 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0007
Olkiewicz, Jennifer M. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-9000
Phillips, Channing D (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0011
Schwab, Edward E. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0015
Taylor, Leah Brownlee (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0007 | JC-DC-0007-9000
Valentine, George C. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0007
Wainstein, Kenneth L. (District of Columbia)
JC-DC-0007-0004
Other Lawyers None on record

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