Plaintiff, an arrestee on a mistaken warrant, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit against Jefferson County in the Federal Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel sought damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that her arrest and ...
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Plaintiff, an arrestee on a mistaken warrant, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit against Jefferson County in the Federal Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel sought damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that her arrest and detention violated her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, plaintiff claimed that an arrest stemming from an erroneously issued bench warrant, and the associated strip search, conducted in view of others at the county jail, violated her constitutional rights.
On July 31, 1986, the plaintiff was issued traffic citations for failure to maintain auto insurance and expired plates. She appeared twice in court in the matter, and was issued a reminder card that her next hearing was on October 23rd. A magistrate judge erroneously scheduled the hearing for October 16th, and plaintiff was arrested in her home on October 21st for her failure to appear on the 16th. The plaintiff showed the officers her reminder card and asked to call her attorney.
The police took the plaintiff to the county jail, and despite her insistence that she was not scheduled to appear on the 23rd, she was incarcerated and strip searched by an officer, in front of a window. She was then subjected to a full body search in which she was required to expose herself to an officer, though this was done in private. She was held until late in the evening and released on her own recognizance. The scheduling error was discovered the next morning and the charges were dismissed.
The district court (Judge Edward H. Johnstone) found that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. An interlocutory appeal was granted.
On April 18, 1989, in a published opinion written by Pierce Lively, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judges Lively, Gilbert Stround, and Herbert Milburn) found that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on the false arrest and detention claims, because the arrest warrant was facially valid. The Court found that the blanket policy of strip searching detainees was invalid under Bell v. Wolfish. The Court further found that a previous consent decree regarding conditions in the Jefferson County Jail did not preclude the Plaintiff from bringing a cause of action for violation of her constitutional rights. (872 F.2d 1248). The Court remanded for further proceedings.Blase Kearney - 05/07/2012