University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Roberts v. State of Rhode Island JC-RI-0001
Docket / Court 1:99-cv-00259-ML ( D.R.I. )
State/Territory Rhode Island
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On May 21, 1999, plaintiff, who was arrested by Rhode Island State Police relying in error upon a withdrawn body attachment order from a family court, filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. He alleged he was ... read more >
On May 21, 1999, plaintiff, who was arrested by Rhode Island State Police relying in error upon a withdrawn body attachment order from a family court, filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. He alleged he was subjected to an unconstitutional strip search and body cavity search incident to his post-arrest detention at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) in Cranston, Rhode Island. Represented by private counsel, plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as attorneys' fees and class certification.

The District Court (District Judge Mary M. Lisi) denied plaintiff's motion for class certification. Roberts v. Rhode Island, 2000 WL 33671759 (D. R.I. Jan. 06, 2000). Discovery followed and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Judge Lisi granted partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, finding that the strip searches of pre-arraignment detainees, if not based upon reasonable suspicion that a particular detainee was concealing weapons or contraband, violated the Fourth Amendment. The Judge enjoined the defendants from conducting strip and visual body cavity searches pursuant to their unconstitutional policies. Roberts v. Rhode Island, 175 F. Supp.2d 176 (D. R.I. 2000). Rhode Island appealed and the First Circuit affirmed, noting that administrative ease and institutional security concerns were insufficient justifications to apply an indiscriminate strip search policy to those accused of minor offenses. Roberts v. Rhode Island, 239 F.3d 107 (1st Cir. 2001) (Circuit Judge Juan R. Torruella).

Following the appeal, a settlement conference was set for May 21, 2001 before Magistrate Judge Jacob Hagopian. The docket does not reflect the results of the settlement conference. It does, however, reflect that the District Court awarded, to plaintiffs' two attorneys, fees in the amount of $745.00 and $4,789.10. We have no additional information about this case.

Note that a separate class action lawsuit challenging the ACI strip search policy was filed after the decision in the Roberts case. In this database, that separate case is JC-RI-0002, Savard v. Rhode Island.

Dan Dalton - 02/24/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
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) Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI)
Rhode Island
Plaintiff Description Man arrested during a traffic stop for an outstanding warrant despite possessing a carbon copy of the court order rescinding that warrant.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Unknown
Source of Relief Litigation
Unknown
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2000 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2001
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-RI-0002 : Savard v. Rhode Island (D.R.I.)
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)
1:99-cv-00259-ML (D.R.I.) 06/25/2001
JC-RI-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order 01/06/2000 (45 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1072) (D.R.I.)
JC-RI-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum and Decision 03/16/2000 (175 F.Supp.2d 176) (D.R.I.)
JC-RI-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
[Appellate Decision] 02/13/2001 (239 F.3d 107)
JC-RI-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Bownes, Hugh Henry (D.N.H., First Circuit)
JC-RI-0001-0001
Lisi, Mary M. (D.R.I.)
JC-RI-0001-0002 | JC-RI-0001-0004 | JC-RI-0001-9000
Lovegreen, Robert W. (D.R.I.) [Magistrate]
JC-RI-0001-9000
Saris, Patti B. (D. Mass.) [Magistrate]
JC-RI-0001-0001
Torruella, Juan R. (D.P.R., First Circuit)
JC-RI-0001-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Belzley, Gregory A. (Kentucky)
JC-RI-0001-0002 | JC-RI-0001-9000
Bolzle, Gregory A. (Kentucky)
JC-RI-0001-0001
Kelly, Thomas W. (Rhode Island)
JC-RI-0001-0001 | JC-RI-0001-0002 | JC-RI-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Partington, Rebecca Tedford (Rhode Island)
JC-RI-0001-0001 | JC-RI-0001-0002 | JC-RI-0001-9000
Whitehouse, Sheldon (Rhode Island)
JC-RI-0001-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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