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BELL v. LENNON

August 4, 1997

CHRISTINA BELL and AMBER BELL, by their Mother and Natural Guardian, TAMMY BELL, Plaintiffs, against DAVID C. LENNON, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER

 BARRINGTON D. PARKER, JR., U.S.D.J.

 Plaintiffs bring this action asserting claims under the substantive due process clause and Fourth Amendment, as well as claims under the New York Family Court Act ("FCA") and tort law. *fn1" Currently before this Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion is granted.

 SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

 A motion for summary judgment must be granted if the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c); see H.L. Hayden Co. v. Siemens Medical Sys., Inc., 879 F.2d 1005, 1011 (2d Cir. 1989). It is the burden of the moving party to demonstrate initially the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); see also Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs. Ltd., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (e). Affidavits in support of or opposition to a summary judgment motion must be made on personal knowledge, setting forth facts which would be admissible at trial by an affiant who is competent to testify to the matters within the affidavit. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial requires a showing sufficient to establish the existence of every element essential to the party's case, and on every element for which the party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In deciding whether there is a genuine issue for trial, "the court is required to draw all factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." Ramseur v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 865 F.2d 460, 465 (2d Cir. 1989). Where the nonmovant's evidence is merely conclusory, speculative or not significantly probative, summary judgment should be granted. Knight v. United States Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9, 12-15 (2d Cir. 1986).

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs claims arise out of events which occurred in connection with the March 11, 1996 arrest of Christina Bell ("Christina") and Amber Bell ("Amber"). Christina, who was 8 years old at the time, and Amber, who was 10 years old, along with their cousin, Deidra Lewis ("Deidra"), had taken a tool box from their neighbor's garage and allegedly damaged the garage. Police Officer David C. Lennon ("Lennon") was notified of the incident by police radio and proceeded first to the neighbor's home and then to the Bells' home. Lennon told Christina and Amber that the neighbor intended to press charges and that he would have to take them to the police station for questioning. Christina and Amber, along with their mother, Tammy Bell ("Ms. Bell"), Deidra, and Deidra's mother, went with Lennon in his police car to the police station.

 DISCUSSION

 Conceding that Lennon had probable cause to take Christina and Amber into custody, plaintiffs contend that the detention of the girls was "unnecessarily and unreasonably" lengthy, so as to violate their Fourth Amendment and substantive due process rights. This Court, of course, does not dispute plaintiffs' general assertion that an unreasonably lengthy detention may, in certain circumstances, implicate Fourth Amendment rights. See County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44, 114 L. Ed. 2d 49, 111 S. Ct. 1661 (1991). Plaintiffs have failed, however, to provide this Court with any authority for the proposition that an hour and half detention -- even for minors -- runs afoul of either the Fourth Amendment or the substantive due process clause.

 It is uncontested that a police officer may detain juveniles for the purpose of conducting a reasonable investigation. Even under New York State law, which, of course, does not state the federal constitutional standard, see Davis v. Little, 851 F.2d 605, 610 (2d Cir. 1988); Robison v. Via, 821 F.2d 913, 922 (2d Cir. 1987); cf. Watson v. City of New York, 92 F.3d 31 (2d Cir. 1996), a police officer may detain a juvenile for questioning for a "reasonable period of time . . ." FCA § 305.2. The parties here are in agreement that Lennon kept, Christina and Amber at the police station for no more than an hour and a half, which is surely within the realm of reasonable.

 Plaintiffs further contend that because the fingerprinting of Amber and Christina violated state law, "any period of detention for [the purpose of fingerprinting] is per se objectively unreasonable." FCA § 306.1, which establishes the procedures for fingerprinting minors in custody, provides, in relevant part, as follows:

 
1. Following the arrest of a child alleged to be a juvenile delinquent, or the filing of a delinquency petition involving a child who has not been arrested, the arresting officer or other appropriate police officer or agency shall take or cause to be taken fingerprints of such child if:
 
(a) the child is eleven years of age or older and the crime which is the subject of the arrest or which is charged in the petition ...

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