University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Newkirk v. Sheers JC-PA-0025
Docket / Court 2:92-cv-04237-FVA ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On July 22, 1992, nine pre-trial detainees who had been arrested in connection with a non-violent civil disobedience protest filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, challenging the conditions of their confinement at the Schuylkill ... read more >
On July 22, 1992, nine pre-trial detainees who had been arrested in connection with a non-violent civil disobedience protest filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, challenging the conditions of their confinement at the Schuylkill County Prison. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that they suffered violations of their constitutional rights in that: (1) they were subjected to strip and body cavity searches pursuant to a blanket strip search policy implemented by Schuylkill County; (2) they were required to double-up in cells designed for one inmate and were forced to sleep on mattresses on cell floors; and (3) they had restricted access to telephones during an initial 48-hour "lockdown" period.

Discovery ensued and, on August 3, 1993, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. On September 16, 1993, the District Court (Judge Franklin S. Van Antwerpen) granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment with respect to the strip search and "double-celling" claims and granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to the restricted telephone use claim. Specifically, with respect to the strip search claim, the Court found that (a) the County's blanket strip and body cavity search policy violated Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights, (b) the County was liable for adopting the policy, and (c) the individual defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity with respect to these claims. Similarly, with respect to the double-celling claim, the Court found that (a) the practice violated Due Process and (b) qualified immunity was not a viable defense. With respect to the restricted telephone use claim, however, the Court found that the practice did not violate constitutional rights. Newkirk v. Sheers, 834 F.Supp. 772 (E.D.Pa. 1993).

Shortly after the Court's ruling, the parties entered into a Consent Decree, which the Court approved on January 12, 1994. Details of the Decree were not reflected by the PACER docket, and we have no further information regarding its terms.

Dan Dalton - 02/24/2008


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Phone
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Schuylkill County
Schuylkill County, PA
Plaintiff Description Nine female pre-trial detainees arrested during a peaceful protest who claim that they were denied meaningful access to telephones, forced into overcrowded cells, and subjected to unconstitutional strip-searches.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1994 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1994
Case Ongoing No
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)
2:92-cv-04237-FVA (E.D. Pa.) 01/12/1994
JC-PA-0025-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion and Order 09/16/1993 (834 F.Supp. 772) (E.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0025-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Van Antwerpen, Franklin Stuart (E.D. Pa., Third Circuit)
JC-PA-0025-0001 | JC-PA-0025-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Einhorn, Gordon A. (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0025-0001 | JC-PA-0025-9000
Shadowen, Steve D. (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0025-0001 | JC-PA-0025-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Schwalm, David Lee (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0025-0001 | JC-PA-0025-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -