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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Plemmons v. Pierce County JC-WA-0004
Docket / Court 04-2-07032-1 ( State Court )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
In April 2004, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Pierce County in the Pierce County Superior Court for federal constitutional and state statutory civil rights violations based on her post-arraignment strip search performed while she was in custody awaiting release on bail. Plaintiff had been ... read more >
In April 2004, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Pierce County in the Pierce County Superior Court for federal constitutional and state statutory civil rights violations based on her post-arraignment strip search performed while she was in custody awaiting release on bail. Plaintiff had been charged with felony forgery. She appeared in court with private counsel and asked for release on personal recognizance since she was a victim of identity theft. The court denied the request, imposed bail of $5,000, and ordered that she be taken into custody. While in custody and awaiting her bail bond, Plaintiff was subject to an automatic strip search. Later, the county dropped the charges against her after confirming she was a victim of identity theft.

The trial court granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, finding that the County was liable for damages under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and that Washington's Strip Search Statutes, RCW 10.79.120 and RCW 10.79.130 were unconstitutional as applied to the Plaintiff, since her presence in the County Jail was merely related to assuring her presence at trial, and it was not with regard to the nature of the crime charged.

The Court of Appeals of Washington granted discretionary review to determine whether persons in custody subject to conditional release, as is the case for people who post bail, are 'committed to incarceration by order of a court' and therefore subject to strip search without warrant or probable cause. The court concluded that an individual awaiting a bail posting has been ordered 'conditionally released' rather than 'committed to incarceration.' See Reno v Koray, 515 U.S. 50, 57 (1995). Since Plaintiff was in custody pending release on bail, she was entitled to the protections of RCW 10.79.120 and 10.79.130, which says she may not be subject to strip search without a warrant, probable cause, or individualized reasonable suspicion. Moreover, RCW 10.79.120 and 10.79.130 are unconstitutional if applied on a blanket basis to pre-trial detainees.

Prison Legal News reports that this case resulted in a class action settlement approved in December 2007 for approximately 100 class members. PCVA Law, a private law firm in Washington, reports that it was successful in securing a $1 million settlement against Pierce County.

Anna Dimon - 04/11/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Pierce County
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff subjected to a post-arraignment & pre-bail strip-search.
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 Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2008
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)
04-2-07032-1 (State Trial Court) 07/09/2007
JC-WA-0004-9000 PDF | Detail
General Documents
Court of Appeals List of Attorneys 03/02/2005
JC-WA-0004-0001 PDF | Detail
Opinion 10/31/2006 (140 P.3d 601)
JC-WA-0004-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Casey, Paula Kay (State Trial Court)
JC-WA-0004-0001
Fleming, Frederick W. (State Trial Court)
JC-WA-0004-9000
Hunt, J. Robin (State Appellate Court)
JC-WA-0004-0001 | JC-WA-0004-0003
Quinn-Brintnall, Christine (State Appellate Court)
JC-WA-0004-0001
Van Deren, Marywave (State Appellate Court)
JC-WA-0004-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cochran, Darrell L. (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0001 | JC-WA-0004-0003 | JC-WA-0004-9000
Diamondstone, Fred (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0001 | JC-WA-0004-0003 | JC-WA-0004-9000
Honeywell, Gordon Thomas (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0003
Tipp, Bryan Charles (Montana)
JC-WA-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cooper, Patrick Russell (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0001 | JC-WA-0004-0003
Horne, Gerald A. (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0003
Orcutt, Kenneth Douglas (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0001 | JC-WA-0004-0003 | JC-WA-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Hyde, Robert Aloysius (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0003
Manville, Duncan Emerson (Washington)
JC-WA-0004-0003

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