In November 2003, high officials from dozens of Western Hemisphere countries, and thousands of protesters, came to Miami for a meeting on the "Free Trade Area of the Americas." Several hundred of the protesters were arrested, most on misdemeanor charges such as "failure to obey" police orders to ...
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In November 2003, high officials from dozens of Western Hemisphere countries, and thousands of protesters, came to Miami for a meeting on the "Free Trade Area of the Americas." Several hundred of the protesters were arrested, most on misdemeanor charges such as "failure to obey" police orders to disperse. Officers at the Miami Pre-Trial Detention Center strip searched the women protestors, conducting a visual body-cavity search.
When Judith Haney, one of the protestors who had been searched got home to California, she got in touch with Mark Merin, the lawyer who representing plaintiffs challenging similar conduct in San Francisco and Sacramento. Merin brought in the Florida Justice Institute, an organization well known for its work on behalf of prison and jail inmates. They filed the case in March 2004 in the Southern District of Florida as a (putative) class action.
The city disagreed on the facts, and also argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to seek injunctive relief (since none of them lived in Miami and was likely to be arrested again). The case was assigned to Adalberto Jordan, a Clinton appointee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In August 2004, Judge Jordan denied the city's motion to dismiss the injunctive claims. Haney v. Miami-Dade County, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19552 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 24, 2004).
The parties reached agreement in February 2005, setting the class as women improperly strip searched from March 5, 2000 until February 28, 2005. The jail implemented a new policy, which allowed strip searches prior to formal first appearance before a judge and subsequent incarceration in general population only if the charged offense involved violence, weapons, or drugs, or if there was some other individualized suspicion relating to contraband. (The new policy was entered in court in a stipulation as part of the settlement papers.)
The monetary settlement was $6.25 million--$4,550,000 for verified claims by class members; $1 million for attorneys' fees; $100,000 for plaintiffs' costs and expenses; $300,000 for the five class representatives; and $300,000 for settlement administration. About 1000 women submitted claims, and split the $4.55 million with each person's share based on the number of times she was strip searched and other aggravating circumstances.Margo Schlanger - 07/15/2007