On March 19, 1992, plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New York in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights had been ...
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On March 19, 1992, plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New York in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. Specifically, plaintiff claimed that being required to submit to strip-searches when he was visiting his father in prison was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.
On March 8, 1989, plaintiff's father was incarcerated at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility managed by the Department of Correctional Services in the state of New York. When the plaintiff was visiting his father on March 8, one corrections officer ordered him into a side room where he was visually strip and cavity searched. He was then detained in the Special Housing Unit, a solitary confinement area of the jail for 27 hours, so the corrections officers could investigate the content of his feces. On a subsequent visit, the plaintiff was strip searched again, but this time he was required to sign a consent form, and there were signs posted that informed visitors that strip searches could be made a condition of visitation.
On October 6, 1994, The Court (Judge John Bartels) ruled, granting the plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint and denying the defendants' motion for summary judgment. (867 F.Supp. 1145). The Court found that the plaintiff retained an expectation of privacy when in the Arthur Kill facility, that he had not waived his rights by signing a consent form, and that the defendants had failed to show there was any objective fact to suggest the plaintiff had been smuggling drugs. There was therefore a genuine issue of material fact regarding the reasonable suspicion for the search under Bell v. Wolfish.
On May 10, 1996, after another round of denial of motions for summary judgment, the defendants filed in interlocutory appeal on the basis of qualified immunity to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
On August 18, 1997, Judge Daniel Friedmann, writing for the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Judge Friedmann, Judge Amayla Kearse, Judge Jon Ormand) found that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. (123 F.3d 75). The Court reasoned that because a District Attorney for Kings' County had communicated that they had received reliable information that plaintiff would attempt to smuggle drugs into the jail, the corrections officers were acting on reasonable suspicion, even though the source of the tip was unknown. Therefore, because the law was not clearly established on the question of whether or not an attorney communicating unsourced information about drug smuggling constitutes reasonable suspicion, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. The case was remanded to the district court, with an Order to dismiss the case.Blase Kearney - 05/09/2012