On March 6, 1980, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, alleging that Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office was engaging in a policy and practice of subjecting certain female detainees to strip searches and, in some ...
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On March 6, 1980, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, alleging that Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office was engaging in a policy and practice of subjecting certain female detainees to strip searches and, in some cases, vaginal searches where there was not probable cause to believe that the detainees were concealing a weapon or contraband. Plaintiffs alleged that the practice violated the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. (We do not have copies of the early pleadings from this case and, so, lack information regrding counsel and the precise relief sought.)
After two years of litigation, the parties entered into a Consent Decree, which was approved by the Court on July 13, 1982. The Consent Decree imposed procedural and substantive requirements on Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office with respect to the conduct of strip searches in the County's jails. The Decree remained in force for over 20 years.
On November 3, 2004, the Sheriff moved to terminate the Consent Decree under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 18 U.S.C.S. § 3626(b)(1)(A)(iii). Represented by private counsel and the ACLU Foundation, Inc., plaintiffs opposed the motion and asked the Court to appoint an expert to inspect the jails to determine whether there were any ongoing constitutional violations. The District Court (District Judge Bruce S. Jenkins) denied the motion and ordered counsel for the Sheriff to analyze the current jail detainee strip search policy in light of the requirements of the Consent Decree and to show the Court that the current policy was constitutional.
After reviewing his policy, the Sheriff filed on January 12, 2005, a second motion to terminate the Decree. He attached relevant sections of the jail policy manual to the motion and argued that they showed constitutional practices. In October 2005, a supplemental pleading filed by the defendant at the court's request detailed current jail strip search policies in comparison with the decree. By unpublished order dated December 11, 2006, Judge Jenkins granted the termination request without an evidentiary hearing, finding that plaintiffs failed to allege specific facts which constituted current and ongoing constitutional violations, depite their having the post-motion opportunity to discover violations.
We have no further information about this case.Dan Dalton - 02/12/2008