In May 2001, twenty-four former pre-trial detainees that had been locked up in the Maricopa County Madison Street Jail filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Maricopa County Superior Court, seeking to enjoin the County Sheriff and Maricopa County from using webcams to stream live images of pretrial detainees on the Internet.
The challenged practice began in July 2000, when four webcams began streaming live images of jailed pretrial detainees over the internet. Initially, the Maricopa County Sheriff's website hosted the images, but because of the enormous volume of visits to the site, the hosting was transferred to a website called "Crime.com." The Sheriff claimed that the cameras served to open the jail to public scrutiny and to deter crime. He boasted that "[w]e get people booked in for murder all the way down to prostitution. . . . When those johns are arrested, they can wave to their wives on the camera." Plaintiffs alleged that the practice violated their rights as secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Other federal and state law claims were also raised.
Because the case presented a question of federal law, Defendants secured removal of the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. After removal, Plaintiffs moved to sever the state law claims so that they could be pursued separately in state court. In lieu of severance, the District Court (Judge Earl H. Carroll) agreed to dismiss the state law claims and allow Plaintiffs to litigate those claims in state court. Plaintiffs also moved for a preliminary injunction. Defendants opposed the injunction and moved to dismiss the federal claims on various grounds, including that the Sheriff had the First Amendment right to use the webcams.
On March 11, 2003, the District Court (Judge Carroll) issued a preliminary injunction, finding that Plaintiffs would likely prevail on their claim that the use of the webcams violated their Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights by subjecting them to punishment. The Court dismissed most of the remaining federal law claims. The County and the Sheriff appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which upheld the preliminary injunction. Demery v. Arpaio, 378 F.3d 1020 (9th Cir. 2004), certiorari denied, Arpaio v. Demery, 545 U.S. 1139 (2005).
After the case was remanded, the parties settled and stipulated dismissal of the suit. By order dated October 6, 2006 and entered November 3, 2006, the District Court (Judge Carroll) adopted the parties' stipulation and dismissed the suit with prejudice. By the same order, the Court, pursuant to the settlement agreement, enjoined the Sheriff and Maricopa County from publishing, broadcasting, or disseminating over the internet, live streaming images of non-consenting pretrial detainees within the Maricopa County jail system. The order further provided that the injunction would expire five years after it was entered and that the parties would bear their own attorneys' fees and costs.
According to the PACER docket report, there have been no subsequent proceedings and the case is closed.Dan Dalton - 02/03/2008