University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Kelsey v. Schoharie County, New York JC-NY-0025
Docket / Court 1:04-cv-00299-LEK-DRH ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On March 19, 2004, two plaintiffs represented by private attorneys from Albany, New York, filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleging that the Schoharie County Sheriff's Department ("SCSD") had an ... read more >
On March 19, 2004, two plaintiffs represented by private attorneys from Albany, New York, filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleging that the Schoharie County Sheriff's Department ("SCSD") had an unconstitutional blanket policy and/or practice of strip searching all individuals who entered the Schoharie County Jail, including those charged with misdemeanors or held on civil matters, regardless of the crime for which they were charged and without reasonable suspicion to believe that the individuals were concealing weapons or contraband. The named plaintiffs included an Albany County Jail corrections officer arrested for back child support and another man charged with DWI. They alleged that, pursuant to the Sheriff's policy, they were forced to strip naked and subjected to visual inspections in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs also alleged the constitutional violation stemmed from the Sheriff's deliberate indifference to constitutional rights by not adequately training individual officers he employed. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary and punitive damages and class certification for the thousands of individuals that suffered the same alleged indignities. Defendants, the County and the Sheriff, answered by generally denying all allegations.

The case was assigned to District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn, who referred the case to Magistrate Judge David Homer to oversee scheduling and case discovery. A scheduling order was entered, which directed the parties to complete discovery by June 1, 2005. Discovery ensued. On the last day of discovery, the County moved to amend its answer to assert an affirmative defense that the plaintiffs failed to comply with the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) (PLRA). The District Court (Magistrate Judge Homer) denied the County's request to answer, finding that the PLRA did not apply to the case, as neither plaintiff was incarcerated at the time the case was filed. Kelsey v. County of Schoharie, 2005 WL 1972557 (N.D. N.Y. Aug 05, 2005) (NO. 04-CV-299).

Plaintiffs moved for class certification, which the defendants opposed. Defendants, in turn, moved for summary judgment. Judge Kahn denied defendants' motion for summary judgment and certified the case as a class action. The class was defined as:

All persons in the United States who have been, or will be, placed into the custody of the Schoharie County Jail after being charged with "misdemeanors, violations, or held on civil matters" and were, or will be, strip searched upon their entry into the Schoharie County Jail pursuant to the policy, custom and practice of the Schoharie County Sheriff's Department and the County of Schoharie. The class period commences on March 19, 2001, and extends to the date on which the Schoharie County Sheriff's Department and/or the County of Schoharie are enjoined from, or otherwise cease, enforcing their unconstitutional policy, practice and custom of conducting strip searches absent reasonable suspicion. Kelsey v. County of Schoharie, 2007 WL 603406 (N.D. N.Y. Feb 21, 2007).

Judge Kahn refused to certify his order for immediate appeal by defendants.

Kelsey v. County of Schoharie, 2007 WL 1532024 (N.D. N.Y. May 24, 2007). On December 19, 2007, the Court held a pre-trial conference. As of June 2009, the trial in this case is still pending.

Kristen Sagar - 06/30/2009


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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 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Schoharie
Schoharie County
Schoharie County Jail
Plaintiff Description Individuals who were charged with misdemeanors, violations, or held on civil matters and were strip searched upon their entry into the Schoharie County Jail. The class period commences on March 19, 2001, and extends until the search practice ceases.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
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)
1:04-cv-00299-LEK-DRH (N.D.N.Y.) 02/23/2010
JC-NY-0025-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 03/17/2004
JC-NY-0025-0001 PDF | Detail
Order Approving Defendant's Waiver of Potential Contract 09/07/2004 (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0002 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Decision and Order [regarding motion to file an amended answer] 08/05/2005 (2005 WL 1972557 / 2005 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 17057) (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Protective Order on Stipulation 09/01/2005 (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0003 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Decision and Order [affirming Magistrate Judge Decision and denying motion to amend answer] 11/16/2005 (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0004 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Decision and Order [regarding proposed class and summary judgment] 02/21/2007 (2007 WL 603406 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 16252) (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum-Decision and Order [Denying Defendant's Motion for Immediate Appeal] 05/24/2007 (2007 WL 1532024) (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0005 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
[Order Denying Appeal] 06/29/2007
JC-NY-0025-0006 PDF | Detail
USCA Mandate 10/14/2009
JC-NY-0025-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/16/2009 (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE 10/16/2009 (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Homer, David R. (N.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
JC-NY-0025-0002 | JC-NY-0025-0003 | JC-NY-0025-0010 | JC-NY-0025-9000
Kahn, Lawrence E. (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0025-0004 | JC-NY-0025-0005 | JC-NY-0025-0008 | JC-NY-0025-0009 | JC-NY-0025-0011 | JC-NY-0025-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Keach, Elmer Robert III (New York)
JC-NY-0025-0001 | JC-NY-0025-0003 | JC-NY-0025-0010 | JC-NY-0025-0011 | JC-NY-0025-9000
Menken, Bruce E. (New York)
JC-NY-0025-0001 | JC-NY-0025-0010 | JC-NY-0025-0011 | JC-NY-0025-9000
Rozger, Jason J. (New York)
JC-NY-0025-0001 | JC-NY-0025-0010 | JC-NY-0025-0011 | JC-NY-0025-9000
Schumann-McGhee, Bethany (New York)
JC-NY-0025-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Conboy, Jacinda Hall (New York)
JC-NY-0025-0010 | JC-NY-0025-0011
Johnson, Gregg T. (New York)
JC-NY-0025-0003 | JC-NY-0025-0010 | JC-NY-0025-0011 | JC-NY-0025-9000
Other Lawyers Yatsco, Tanya A. (New York)
JC-NY-0025-9000

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