University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Lira v. Dona Ana County JC-NM-0004
Docket / Court 1:06-cv-00179-WJ-WPL ( D.N.M. )
State/Territory New Mexico
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On March 7, 2006, seven individuals that had been arrested on minor offenses filed a class action civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, challenging the strip search policy of the Dona Ana County Jail. Plaintiffs alleged that the Dona ... read more >
On March 7, 2006, seven individuals that had been arrested on minor offenses filed a class action civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, challenging the strip search policy of the Dona Ana County Jail. Plaintiffs alleged that the Dona Ana County Sheriff had a blanket policy of strip searching all pre-arraignment detainees upon their arrival at the Jail, regardless of the offense charged, or whether their was any suspicion that the detainee possessed weapons or contraband. The plaintiffs, who were strip searched pursuant to this policy, alleged that that the policy violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as state tort law. Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification. The Dona Ana County Sheriff generally denied the allegations.

Shortly after the suit was filed, the District Court (District Judge William P. Johnson) stayed the proceedings at the request of the parties so that they could pursue settlement negotiations. Ultimately, a settlement agreement was reached. After the initial settlement agreement, Judge Johnson entered an agreed order consolidating the case with a similar case styled Rodriguez v. Dona Ana County, which contested strip searches at the County juvenile detention facility. (See JI-NM-0003). The parties then filed an Amended Stipulation of Settlement, under which the Defendants agreed to pay $5.3 million to resolve all class claims. The stipulated Adult Settlement Class included all detainees who were strip searched between March 7, 2003, and March 7, 2006, at the Dona Ana County Jail prior to arraignment. The stipulated Juvenile Settlement class included all detainees who were strip searched between May 16, 2003, and May 16, 2006, at the Dona Ana Juvenile Detention Center. It was estimated that there were approximately 11,000 class members. Individual claims were to be paid per an agreed-upon distribution formula, with the range of expected pay-outs per individual claimant was estimated at $1,200 to $2,400. Representative plaintiffs would receive a total $200,000 or $25,000 per class representative. $1,666,667 of the settlement fund was allocated for attorneys' fees.

Judge Johnson preliminarily approved the settlement on December 20, 2007.

On May 20, 2008, the district court (Judge Johnson) issued a final approval of the settlement and a final judgment of dismissal in the case.

Kristen Sagar - 10/03/2008


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
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) Dona Ana County
Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department
Plaintiff Description All persons who, from March 3, 2003 to the present, were arrested and subjected to a strip search and/or body cavity search at the Dona Ana County Detention Facility without reasonable suspicion of contraband or weapons.
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 Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2008 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JI-NM-0003 : Rodriguez v. Dona Ana County (D.N.M.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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)
1:06-cv-00179-WJ-WPL (D.N.M.) 07/31/2008
JC-NM-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint Complaint 03/07/2006
JC-NM-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Joint Unopposed Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement Agreement 09/19/2007
JC-NM-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Stipulation of Settlement 09/19/2007
JC-NM-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Amended Stipulation of Settlement 11/25/2007
JC-NM-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Judges Johnson, William Paul (D.N.M.)
JC-NM-0004-9000
Lynch, William P. (D.N.M.) [Magistrate]
JC-NM-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bienvenu, John C. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0004-0001 | JC-NM-0004-0002 | JC-NM-0004-0003 | JC-NM-0004-0004 | JC-NM-0004-9000
Donatelli, Mark H. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0004-0001 | JC-NM-0004-0002 | JC-NM-0004-0003 | JC-NM-0004-0004 | JC-NM-0004-9000
Lilley, Jess R. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0004-0001 | JC-NM-0004-0003 | JC-NM-0004-0004 | JC-NM-0004-9000
Lilley, Marc (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0004-0001 | JC-NM-0004-0002 | JC-NM-0004-0003 | JC-NM-0004-0004 | JC-NM-0004-9000
Lilley, Michael W. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0004-0001 | JC-NM-0004-0002 | JC-NM-0004-0003 | JC-NM-0004-0004 | JC-NM-0004-9000
Rothstein, Robert R. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0004-0001 | JC-NM-0004-0002 | JC-NM-0004-0003 | JC-NM-0004-0004 | JC-NM-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carrillo, Raul A. Jr. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0004-0002 | JC-NM-0004-0004 | JC-NM-0004-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -