Strip Searches Legal - KOTA Territory News

Strip Searches Legal

Gary Jensen
Beardsley, Jensen and Von Wald

Conducting a visual strip search for a minor offense was approved by the United States Supreme Court in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 2012 WL 1069092.

A New Jersey state trooper arrested Mr. Florence during a traffic stop when the information available to the trooper said there was a bench warrant for Mr. Florence's arrest because he failed to appear at a hearing to enforce a fine.  Mr. Florence was detained in a county detection center, but released when it was determined the fine had been paid.

While confined, Mr. Florence was forced to shower and be visually searched while naked.  He claimed the search included requiring him to lift his genitals, turn around, and cough while squatting.  He filed a civil rights lawsuit against the detention center arguing that his "strip search" was unconstitutional.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the visual strip search was constitutionally acceptable.  Among other things, the Court stated:

In addressing this type of constitutional claim courts must defer to the judgment of correction officials unless the record contains substantial evidence showing their policies are an unnecessary or unjustified response to problems of jail security.  That necessary showing has not been made in this case.

This decision is controversial, obviously.

E-mail Gary is intended as general information on legal issues affecting us all.  This information should not be relied upon in any particular case and should never be used in lieu of consulting with an attorney.

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