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Case Name Mitchell v. Clinton County JC-NY-0028
Docket / Court 8:06-cv-00254 ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On April 29, 2003, a woman represented by a group of private attorneys from New York and D.C. law firms filed a class action suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleging that the Clinton County Sheriff's Department had an ... read more >
On April 29, 2003, a woman represented by a group of private attorneys from New York and D.C. law firms filed a class action suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleging that the Clinton County Sheriff's Department had an unconstitutional blanket policy and/or practice of strip searching all individuals who entered the Clinton County Jail, regardless of the crime for which they were charged and without reasonable suspicion that the individuals were concealing weapons or contraband. Plaintiff alleged that the unconstitutional strip searches were conducted pursuant to a written policy up to October 24, 2003. Plaintiff further alleged that while the County's written policy was revised on October 24, 2003, corrections officers ignored the revised policy and continued to carry out the practice of blanket strip searches. Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary and punitive damages, and class certification. Defendants, the County and the Sheriff, answered by generally denying all allegations.

Extensive discovery and litigation followed.

On July 5, 2007, the District Court certified the case as a class action. The class consisted of all persons in either of two subclasses, A or B, who were placed into the custody of the Clinton County Jail after being charged with misdemeanors, violations, violations of probation or parole, traffic infractions, civil commitments or other minor crimes and were strip searched upon their entry into the Clinton County Jail pursuant to the policy, custom and practice of the Clinton County Sheriff's Department and the County of Clinton. Class A included those strip searched between February 28, 2003 and October 24, 2003, while Class B included those strip searched between October 24, 2003 and the date on which the Clinton County Sheriff's Department and/or the County of Clinton ceased, or was enjoined from, enforcing their unconstitutional policy. Mitchell v. County of Clinton, 2007 WL 1988716 (N.D. N.Y. July 05, 2007). A representative plaintiff was approved for class A and plaintiffs were granted leave, over defendants' objection, to name a representative plaintiff for class B. Mitchell v. County of Clinton, 2008 WL 85092 (N.D. N.Y. Jan. 07, 2008).

On October 8, 2008, the parties reached a settlement agreement. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants agreed to pay $1.15 million to the estimated 2,700 potential members of the plaintiff class.

On December 4, 2009, Magistrate Judge David R. Homer released a final order granting approval of the class action settlement for all members of the class who did not opt out to the settlement. In addition, the representative member of each of the two subclasses received specific amounts of compensation, with $25,000 for the representative of Class A and $10,000 for the representative of Class B. The plaintiffs were also granted $324,730.93 in attorney's fees.

Kristen Sagar - 06/16/2009
Kat Brausch - 03/27/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Corrections
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) Clinton County Sheriff's Department
The County of Clinton
Plaintiff Description All persons who were placed into the custody of the Clinton County Jail after being charged with petty crimes and were strip searched upon their entry into the Clinton County Jail from February 28, 2003 to July 1, 2007.
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 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)
8:06-cv-00254-NAM-DRH (N.D.N.Y.) 01/12/2010
JC-NY-0028-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 02/27/2006
JC-NY-0028-0001.pdf | Detail
Order to Show Cause Why Defendants Should Not be Compelled to Obtain Separate Counsel 06/22/2006 (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0028-0003.pdf | Detail
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification 01/29/2007
JC-NY-0028-0002.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Decision and Order 07/05/2007 (2007 WL 1988716) (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0028-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Memorandum-Decision and Order 01/07/2008 (2008 WL 85092) (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0028-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Settlement Agreement 10/08/2008
JC-NY-0028-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and Judgment 12/04/2009 (2009 WL 4730702)
JC-NY-0028-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Homer, David R. (N.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
JC-NY-0028-0003 | JC-NY-0028-0004 | JC-NY-0028-0005 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Mordue, Norman A. (N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barnett, Alexander E. (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Cuneo, Jonathan W. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0028-0001 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Keach, Elmer Robert III (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0001 | JC-NY-0028-0002 | JC-NY-0028-0004 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
LaDuca, Charles Joseph (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0028-0001 | JC-NY-0028-0002 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Mason, Gary E. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0028-0001 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Menken, Bruce E. (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0001 | JC-NY-0028-0002 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Rozger, Jason J. (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0001 | JC-NY-0028-0002 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Schneider, Charles A. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0028-0001 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Schumann-McGhee, Bethany (New York)
JC-NY-0028-9000
Warren, Alexandra C. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0028-0002 | JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, Rodney (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0004
Conboy, Jacinda Hall (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007
Johnson, Gregg T. (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0006 | JC-NY-0028-0007 | JC-NY-0028-9000
Quesnel, Scott P. (New York)
JC-NY-0028-0007
Other Lawyers None on record

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