Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SHAIN v. ELLISON

June 1, 1999

RAY E. SHAIN, PLAINTIFF
v.
"JOHN" ELLISON (SHIELD NO. 761), ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wexler, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This is a civil rights case brought by an individual who was arrested by Nassau County Police Officers and thereafter spent a night in the Nassau County Correctional Center ("NCCC"). Plaintiff states that he was the victim of the use of excessive force and that he was subject to an unconstitutional strip search.*fn1 The excessive force issue is presently pending before the court and is scheduled for trial. The court rules herein on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment regarding the constitutionality of Nassau County's strip search policy.

For the reasons set forth below, the court holds that plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment on the claim that the Nassau County strip search policy, which requires a strip/visual body cavity search of all prisoners remanded to custody of the NCCC, is unconstitutional. While the court is mindful and, indeed, sympathetic, to the legitimate security and safety needs expressed by the Nassau County Sheriff, the court is constrained by clear precedent holding that a blanket strip search policy, such as that practiced by Nassau County, violates the Constitution.

BACKGROUND

I. Plaintiff's Arrest

Plaintiff was arrested by Nassau County police officers responding to a call placed by plaintiffs wife concerning a domestic dispute. While some facts are contested, it is clear that at the time of the call plaintiff and his wife were embroiled in divorce proceedings. Although plaintiff was living in the same house as his wife, an order of protection, which had expired the day before the police were called to the residence, required, inter alia, plaintiff and his wife to occupy separate portions of the home.

Among the police officers responding to the domestic dispute call was defendant police officer Ellison. Because it is unnecessary, for the purposes of this ruling, to discuss the specific facts surrounding Plaintiff's arrest, the court will state here only that plaintiff was arrested and subsequently remanded by a Nassau County District Court Judge to the custody of the Nassau County Sheriff at the NCCC.

II. Plaintiff's Search at the NCCC

Upon arrival at the NCCC plaintiff was subject to that facility's procedures regarding all newly admitted prisoners. There are no questions of material fact regarding the policy for admission of new inmates to the NCCC. The Sheriff of Nassau County was deposed and testified that all individuals entering the NCCC are strip searched.*fn2 Additionally, the court has been provided with copies of the written procedure and has considered briefs, arguments of counsel and has heard testimony regarding the procedure. The procedure at issue is as follows.

All prisoners remanded to the NCCC are subject to a strip/visual body cavity search. The procedure makes no distinctions based upon the nature of the crime charged or the circumstances surrounding the particular arrest. It matters not whether a newly admitted prisoner has been remanded after a misdemeanor charge or a violent felony or drug charge. Indeed, while the NCCC is provided with papers indicating the crime with which the inmate has been charged, the officer performing the search has no information regarding the circumstances surrounding the inmate's remand to the NCCC. Nor are officers at the NCCC provided with information indicating whether there is a reasonable suspicion as to whether a particular inmate may be concealing contraband. The provision of such information is immaterial, however, since all inmates are subject to the search.

The police officer performing the search of plaintiff testified that the search took approximately one minute. Affidavit testimony attached to defendants' papers indicate that the search takes approximately two minutes. Plaintiff states that the search took approximately fifteen minutes. The court is confident that the actual inspection time lies somewhere in between these three estimates — any factual dispute concerning this issue, however is not material to the present motion.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.