About that SCOTUS strip search ruling

posted at 8:30 am on April 3, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

While it wasn’t attracting as much attention as the Obamacare debate or a few other high profile features, I had been wondering how the Supreme Court was going to rule in the case of Albert Florence of New Jersey. It’s one of those glossy cases that the media loves to latch on to because it involves privacy issues, strip searches and “Cops out of Control.” Well, as the NY Times reports, now we know.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs but also public health and information about gang affiliations…

The Supreme Court case arose from the arrest of Albert W. Florence in New Jersey in 2005. Mr. Florence was in the passenger seat of his BMW when a state trooper pulled his wife, April, over for speeding. A records search revealed an outstanding warrant based on an unpaid fine. (The information was wrong; the fine had been paid.)

Mr. Florence was held for a week in jails in two counties, and he was strip-searched twice. There is some dispute about the details but general agreement that he was made to stand naked in front of a guard who required him to move intimate parts of his body. The guards did not touch him.

While I generally am reluctant to try to take on Dr. James Joyner when it comes to matters of the court, this is one of those cases where I’m going to have to. But first, let’s get to the key aspect of his disagreement with this decision.

This is just appalling.

The 4th Amendment declares that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” How is a strip search under the conditions of Florence’s arrest–for a crime that had no relation to violence or hiding of small objects–reasonable? In what sense is there probable cause? When was a warrant issued? What particular thing were they looking to seize?

Well, he’s certainly quoted the Bill of Rights accurately, as we should expect. But sometimes I think things can be oversimplified. This is a complex question, but I think Joyner’s argument may come up short both on the particulars of the Florence case specifically and of the consequences of a different ruling in the broader sense. (For today, we’ll leave out the entire “5-4 ruling means the court is broken” argument and take that back up another day.)

The behavior of the local authorities in the Florence case was obviously beyond the pale once it got to the one or two week mark. But in the initial arrest scenario, there was a reason the car was pulled over originally. And once that happened, any further information which turned up – such as the indication of an outstanding warrant, correct or not – leaves the door open for the officers to continue their inquiries. Obviously police do not require a warrant to pull over a vehicle if they observe an infraction and if, in the course of pursuing that, they find probably cause (such as an outstanding warrant) they can and should investigate further. They went absolutely too far with Mr. Florence, but the initial question of taking the case beyond the original traffic stop level was not out of bounds.

But that’s not the most worrisome part of this case. A ruling in the other direction would, I think, have a broadly chilling effect on police in future cases where suspicion is clearly warranted. If a decision in this case leads to every person who winds up being searched bringing a lawsuit, you’re leaving open the door to crippling law enforcement efforts.

This is not to say that there aren’t bad cops or even bad departments. Police are only human beings like anyone else, and we have to be aware of that. But perhaps there’s a bit more of a “free market” remedy available. If one cop or one department comes up in the news too often abusing strip searches or any other sort of abusive behavior, the public can and will be made aware of it and corrective action can be taken at the local level rather than handcuffing everyone in the nation with a badge. A similar thing happened just last month in California where a large settlement had to be paid for the legal fees of two men who were treated in an equally obvious inappropriate fashion.

No, all things considered, I’m going to have to disagree with the good Dr. Joyner on this one. I think a ruling in favor of Albert Florence could have had a far more chilling effect on law enforcement than the poor outcome he faced as an individual. I wish it hadn’t happened, but this ruling could have created a separate and greater wrong by diving off the cliff in the opposite direction.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Bishop

angrymike on April 3, 2012 at 8:32 AM

KOOLAID2

angrymike on April 3, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Commerce Clause…or something.

Electrongod on April 3, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Well, he should be a very rich man now. All he needs to do is sue. Basically, he was arrested on false grounds. He did time for no reason at all. The city will settle.

jeffn21 on April 3, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Where is OOTD?

katy the mean old lady on April 3, 2012 at 8:40 AM

“Strip down and then Bend over and cough”

1982 – Everett, WA

Just because I forgot to pay for both 35mm film cartridges at the PayLess store.

Electrongod on April 3, 2012 at 8:40 AM

The cops hands hare already been tied enough by the courts. They must be allowed to do their jobs without anymore hoops to jump thru.

Kissmygrits on April 3, 2012 at 8:41 AM

I’m not even going to comment on the strip search, but the state needs to pay a hefty penalty for falsely imprisoning a citizen for a week because of a clerical error on a fine.

DFCtomm on April 3, 2012 at 8:41 AM

From the libertarian point of view, the ruling is horrifying and casts a chilling shadow on so-called “constitutionalists” in Roberts Court. If they wanted, the Supremes could have supported the Fourth Amendment by ruling in favor of Albert Florence but explicitly tuning down the precedent power of the case.

Archivarix on April 3, 2012 at 8:43 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Anyone going into the general population at a lockup should be subject to search, period. That includes a strip search, so long as it is conducted according to rational policy and regularly administered.

Mr. Florence does have a pretty good case based on the failure to pull the warrant and the length of time it took to recognize his detention was unlawful.

novaculus on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

I think SCOTUS made the right call: let the state and local governments handle this. If the man was wronged, he should sue.

This reminds me that the SCOTUS & other members of the judiciary have made some terrible mistakes when it comes to criminal punishment over the years. The poor and less fortunate, as well as police officers, have paid dearly:

Prior to 1960, murder rates in the United States had been going down for decades. Even the absolute number of murders declined, while the population grew by millions. Despite the addition of two new states — Hawaii and Alaska — in 1960, the number of murders in the 50 states was less than it had been in the 48 states thirty years earlier.

The murder rate in 1960 was just under half of what it had been in 1934.

But that was not good enough for the intelligentsia, with their theories on how to “solve” our “problems.” First of all, they claimed, we had to stop focusing on punishment and get at the “root causes” of crime. In other words, we had to solve the criminals’ problems, in order to solve the problem of crime.

This approach was not new in the 1960s. In fact, it went back at least as far as the 18th century. But what was new in the 1960s was the widespread acceptance of such notions in the legal system, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

The crusade against punishment, and especially capital punishment, spread through all three branches of the federal government and into state governments as well. Even a murderer caught in the act had so many new “rights,” created out of thin air by judges, that executing him could require a decade or more of additional litigation, even after he was found guilty…

In the aftermath of this revolution in the criminal law, promoted by the intelligentsia in academia and in the media, the long downward trend in murder suddenly reversed. By 1974, the murder rate was more than twice what it had been in 1961. Between 1960 and 1976, a citizen’s chances of becoming a victim of a major violent crime tripled. So did the murder of policemen.

visions on April 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

You will notify us then?

Electrongod on April 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM

It’s a BAD ruling. For one thing, he wasn’t driving the car, so he didn’t commit the speeding violation.

What this amounts to is SCOTUS ruling that our Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches is trumped when the government MAKES A MISTAKE (ie: he never should have been arrested in the first place).

That is a scary precedent.

That is like saying that if the government makes a mistake, surrounds your house, and starts shooting at you the only right you have is to be shot, not to shoot back.

wildcat72 on April 3, 2012 at 8:48 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

The Presidency is now a political arm of the DNC and whould be treated as such until further notice.

rhombus on April 3, 2012 at 8:52 AM

They got Capone on tax evasion. And some psychotic episodes look like and are often accompanied by public drunkenness. Nail the city to the wall over the clerical error, sure. But if someone is going to jail, I want them thoroughly searched for contraband. Nothing worse than going to jail over partying too hearty and getting stabbed in the drunk tank because the guy next to you thought you were an alien. Or finding a gun to your head from Cornelius Q Gangbanga when you are in jail for an unpaid speeding ticket.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 8:52 AM

And what of him being jailed for two weeks for something he hadn’t done?

Logus on April 3, 2012 at 8:54 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

….lobotomy4life is the official toilet paper of the DNC and should be treated as such until further notice.

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2012 at 8:54 AM

angrymike on April 3, 2012 at 8:33 AM

(:>)

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2012 at 8:55 AM

And what of him being jailed for two weeks for something he hadn’t done?

Logus on April 3, 2012 at 8:54 AM

It was his and his lawyers’ decision to hinge their case on the strip-searching.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM

They got Capone on tax evasion. And some psychotic episodes look like and are often accompanied by public drunkenness. Nail the city to the wall over the clerical error, sure. But if someone is going to jail, I want them thoroughly searched for contraband. Nothing worse than going to jail over partying too hearty and getting stabbed in the drunk tank because the guy next to you thought you were an alien. Or finding a gun to your head from Cornelius Q Gangbanga when you are in jail for an unpaid speeding ticket.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 8:52 AM

That’s just jim-dandy, until you ARE that guy getting strip searched. If it came down to it, would you be able to console yourself knowing “hey, I had to strip naked and embarrass myself in front of jailers, but at least I know it’s in the name of my own safety?” I doubt it…

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

liberal4life is now a troll arm of the DNC and should be treated as such until further notice.

itsspideyman on April 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM

In looking at the case I think there are two separate issues. The fact that Mr. Florence was being arrested, as it turns out twice, because the government could not get their record keeping straight. Mr. Florence had paid the fine for the traffic offense and NEVER should have been arrested, let alone arrested a second time, and then once arrested he should never have been kept in jail for the screw up by the courts. For this I would say Mr. Florence is well within his right to succeed in a lawsuit for violation of his constitutional rights.

The second issue involves people once arrested and is going through booking in process to enter the general population of the jail.It is obviously inconvenient, humiliating and embarrassing to go through a strip search. The issue involves safety and security within the jail. I would agree the need for a strip search is sad but necessary.

I would argue the strip search would add to the damages Mr. Florence would be entitled to for being improperly arrested. Mr. Florence should never have been arrested the first time and certainly not a second time.

On the bright side, people like the court (the judge and clerks) which issued a warrant (Judge asking why am I issuing a warrant in a case where the person paid the fines, no double checking) for someone who had paid his fines, and the people up and down the state department who could not fix the problem after the first arrest, might be running your health care soon. That should make you feel better.

DVPTexFla on April 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM

DFCtomm on April 3, 2012 at 8:41 AM

At most they could have held him for 48 hours, maybe 72, and Mr. Florence would have zero recourse – even though he was innocent and even if they hadn’t charged him.

So from my ignorant position, I’d think he’s got a case to be paid for 4 to 5 days of unlawful incarceration.

After reading stuff like this, makes one think that perhaps we should keep copies of paid tickets in our car, purse, wallet, etc. Certainly to keep it at home.

Logus on April 3, 2012 at 9:00 AM

That’s just jim-dandy, until you ARE that guy getting strip searched. If it came down to it, would you be able to console yourself knowing “hey, I had to strip naked and embarrass myself in front of jailers, but at least I know it’s in the name of my own safety?” I doubt it…

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM

I don’t plan on having weapons on my person when going to jail. If I’m strip-searched, that means the folks in jail with me are also unlikely to have weapons on them. And the ones who can get weapons on the inside will have better targets to use them on than me.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 9:01 AM

I think the SCOTUS made the right call and accurately articulated the reasons why. What I have a bigger issue with is the idea that an unpaid fine/warrant would put somebody behind bars for a week. This is a much greater concern than strip searches.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:03 AM

What particular thing were they looking to seize?

Heh heh…

Erm… sorry.

Mr. Prodigy on April 3, 2012 at 9:03 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Good lord, child. You’re not even a troll anymore, just the slime on the underbelly of a troll.

Trafalgar on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

I don’t plan on having weapons on my person when going to jail. If I’m strip-searched, that means the folks in jail with me are also unlikely to have weapons on them. And the ones who can get weapons on the inside will have better targets to use them on than me.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 9:01 AM

But that’s not what I asked. You’d be okay with being strip searched knowing that it’s in the name of your own safety? I suppose the court was called on to define what constitutes “reasonable” search and seizure in this instance, and I can’t fault them for doing their job in making that determination. But I, for one, would be incensed if I found myself in this particular situation. YMMV.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

People who don’t like this ruling could lobby their states over it.

ninjapirate on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Fake. No one is this stupid. The reflexive regurgitation of talking points is just too consistent. A high school kid could write a script that would drop these turds in the punch bowl.

novaculus on April 3, 2012 at 9:06 AM

That’s just jim-dandy, until you ARE that guy getting strip searched. If it came down to it, would you be able to console yourself knowing “hey, I had to strip naked and embarrass myself in front of jailers, but at least I know it’s in the name of my own safety?” I doubt it…

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Been on an airplane anytime in the last ten years? The TSA harrasses innocent people far more than jailers.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:07 AM

BTW, one (IMO) bad ruling that people should lobby their state’s about fixing is…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Legal_Society_v._Martinez

I do know a few state’s have done passed legislation in response.

ninjapirate on April 3, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Two things: 1) Court clerks make errors, hence defendants are asked to keep verifying paperwork with them. 2) You can do your own follow up with local jurisdiction and asked to be checked for warrants in the law enfo data base system, usually just by calling/appearing local authorities.

Yes, we live in an imperfect world.

hillsoftx on April 3, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Fake. No one is this stupid. The reflexive regurgitation of talking points is just too consistent. A high school kid could write a script that would drop these turds in the punch bowl.

novaculus on April 3, 2012 at 9:06 AM

There was a time in American history where no could have guessed the outcome of a supreme court decisions.

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Been on an airplane anytime in the last ten years? The TSA harrasses innocent people far more than jailers.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Oh man. Don’t even get me started.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

There was a time in American history where no could have guessed the outcome of a supreme court decisions.

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Oh, you mean like the media guessed (incorrectly) the outcome of Bush Vs. Gore? WTF is wrong with guessing that the supreme court is going to declare an unconstitutional law unconstitutional, anyway?

We really need a better class of trolls here.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:11 AM

But that’s not what I asked. You’d be okay with being strip searched knowing that it’s in the name of your own safety? I suppose the court was called on to define what constitutes “reasonable” search and seizure in this instance, and I can’t fault them for doing their job in making that determination. But I, for one, would be incensed if I found myself in this particular situation. YMMV.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

If I’m going to jail and sharing a cell with gods-know-who, I’ll take being strip-searched as long as the gods-know-whos were strip-searched, too. I don’t want to be forced into acting as lookout while Cornelia Q Gangbanga sneaks the gun she smuggled in to her boyfriend, and I don’t want to be stabbed by some nutcase who keeps a knife on her to kill alien elves.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 9:11 AM

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

If I’m going to jail and sharing a cell with gods-know-who, I’ll take being strip-searched as long as the gods-know-whos were strip-searched, too. I don’t want to be forced into acting as lookout while Cornelia Q Gangbanga sneaks the gun she smuggled in to her boyfriend, and I don’t want to be stabbed by some nutcase who keeps a knife on her to kill alien elves.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Your difference of opinion is duly noted.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

This is wtong.

It’s unreasonable to expect a tandom person who is arrested for a non-violent offense (such as a traffic infraction) to be smuggling contraband into the general population at prison.

KMC1 on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

I suppose the court was called on to define what constitutes “reasonable” search and seizure in this instance, and I can’t fault them for doing their job in making that determination. But I, for one, would be incensed if I found myself in this particular situation.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

What makes this case different is that Mr. Florence was, in fact, wrongfully detained. That isn’t the norm and the fact that the system is flawed needs to be examined. BUT, it is also true that Mr. Florence was not behind bars with equally innocent victims of bad record keeping. The police can’t be hamstrung in what is a valid and necessary procedure just because of Mr. Florence. I think that was what the SCOTUS was saying.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

There was a time in American history where no could have guessed the outcome of a supreme court decisions.

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Ummm…nobody “guessed” this decision by the court, idiot. The court announced it. If you’re referring to your president already lashing out at the court over the not yet released health care decision, he’s responding to inside information he got from his political appointees to the court. So yeah, it’s political and leaking because of him.

Trafalgar on April 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

It is a bad ruling. The strip search was a direct consequence of a bad arrest. Police have a lot of leeway already in how they conduct themselves and while I don’t believe they should be handcuffed from doing their job, I think they should be handcuffed by the constitution.

theblackcommenter on April 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Bishop

angrymike on April 3, 2012 at 8:32 AM

Thanks for keeping it warm. You can go now.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

What makes this case different is that Mr. Florence was, in fact, wrongfully detained. That isn’t the norm and the fact that the system is flawed needs to be examined. BUT, it is also true that Mr. Florence was not behind bars with equally innocent victims of bad record keeping. The police can’t be hamstrung in what is a valid and necessary procedure just because of Mr. Florence. I think that was what the SCOTUS was saying.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

But if Mister Florence had sued the arresting authorities for wrongful imprisonment, the Supreme Court probably never would have heard the case had the appeal even made it that far. That sort of thing gets litigated all the time at the level of state superior/supreme courts. I guess I understand what you’re saying, and it makes more sense to me from that standpoint, but to say that an arresting authority doesn’t need a reason to strip search? At all? Ever? That seems a little fishy to me. I would hope that state/county/municipal officials would use a little more discretion than the blanket authority that the court’s decision seems to be granting them here.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

If I’m going to jail and sharing a cell with gods-know-who, I’ll take being strip-searched as long as the gods-know-whos were strip-searched, too. I don’t want to be forced into acting as lookout while Cornelia Q Gangbanga sneaks the gun she smuggled in to her boyfriend, and I don’t want to be stabbed by some nutcase who keeps a knife on her to kill alien elves.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 9:11 AM

No worry, you can be killed in your sleep with bare hands. Pillow works, too. Knife is an often-unnecessary luxury in jail. As for strip-searches, they are mostly looking for drugs, and yes, there were cases of taping them underneath the scrotum. Providing illegal drugs to inmates is a diamond mine for correction officers and they won’t have some petty criminals interfering with the business.

Archivarix on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

fascistliberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Why should George Soros pay you anymore? No one here believes your bullsh!t.

1) Cop pulls over someone violating a traffic law. OK.
2) During that, discovers a passenger with an outstanding warrant.
2a) Is there an actual need to run a check on passengers while giving a speeding ticket? (Probably no)
2b) If there is a need to run an I.D. check on passengers, should cops rely on information on their computer system (Yes)
3) Cop sees that there’s a warrant out on passenger, so arrests him. OK.
4) Passenger gets processed into jail, once there and put into general population, not a holding cell, should be strip searched.

The guy should not have been arrested in the first place, as there should not have been a warrant out, but that’s a system glitch, by an anonymous bureaucrat, who’s not going to be held accountable. And a week in jail? over not paying a fine? Where’s bail on a minor matter? There are so many bigger issues, but if you’re put in general prison population, even if so very wrongfully, expect a strip search.

rbj on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

This is wtong.

It’s unreasonable to expect a tandom person who is arrested for a non-violent offense (such as a traffic infraction) to be smuggling contraband into the general population at prison.

KMC1 on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

What is “wtong” is the idea that somebody detained for a non-violent offense is, by definition, not carrying contraband. Are you honestly suggesting that “tandom” people who ride in BMWs are incapable of carrying drugs or other contraband?

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

What makes this case different is that Mr. Florence was, in fact, wrongfully detained. That isn’t the norm and the fact that the system is flawed needs to be examined. BUT, it is also true that Mr. Florence was not behind bars with equally innocent victims of bad record keeping. The police can’t be hamstrung in what is a valid and necessary procedure just because of Mr. Florence. I think that was what the SCOTUS was saying.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Totally agreed. The matter of Florence being wrongfully detained is a separate thing from the issue of whether or not all people in custody and going to jail should be searched for contraband.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Hmmmm, I think I’m going to rethink my driving habits.

Cindy Munford on April 3, 2012 at 9:17 AM

If Nicole Scherzinger is doing the pat down and search, I’ll agree to it, in fact I’ll purposely break the law just to have her in the same vicinity as me.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:19 AM

I think a chilling effect on the cops from wrongfully detaining an innocent person due to their sloppy record keeping is entirely appropriate. The fact that this went on for two weeks is all the more frightening.

The Whistler on April 3, 2012 at 9:20 AM

If Nicole Scherzinger is doing the pat down and search, I’ll agree to it, in fact I’ll purposely break the law just to have her in the same vicinity as me.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Nicole Scherzinger? I had no idea you were so easy, Bish. Question is, what sort of law would you have to break? ;-)

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

I suspect that at least as concerns the US, individuals and politicians (specifically those who disagree with the ruling(s)) have on numerous times felt that the courts are politicized pretty much since John Adams became President.

Logus on April 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

I would hope that state/county/municipal officials would use a little more discretion than the blanket authority that the court’s decision seems to be granting them here.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Not having any experience with jails, I’m guessing here but I suspect that more than a little discretion is part of these procedures already. The SCOTUS did not mandate strip searches, they just upheld the authorities ability to do so.

And again, would we even be having this discussion if Mr. Florence was picked up for drug distribution? The most appalling part of this case was the bad record keeping and week in jail, not the strip searches.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Question is, what sort of law would you have to break? ;-)

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

I don’t care as long as Nicole were running her hands all over me.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:24 AM

It is a bad ruling. The strip search was a direct consequence of a bad arrest. Police have a lot of leeway already in how they conduct themselves and while I don’t believe they should be handcuffed from doing their job, I think they should be handcuffed by the constitution.

theblackcommenter on April 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Then you understand neither the law nor police procedure. When an officer runs a warrant check and finds that the system shows a warrant he or she is allowed to detain the person, The officer must then wait until he or she receives confirmation that the warrant exists. If the officer is told the warrant exists he may then arrest the person. Just because the information the officer is given is inaccurate, it doesn’t make the arrest “bad”. Courts have ruled repeatedly that officers may act on the information that is available to them at the time they take the action. Strip searching arrested persons on entry into a jail is standard operating procedure for jails. I was a watch supervisor in a city jail for a while and you wouldn’t believe the kind of things that can get inside a jail facility if people aren’t searched properly.

Trafalgar on April 3, 2012 at 9:24 AM

And again, would we even be having this discussion if Mr. Florence was picked up for drug distribution? The most appalling part of this case was the bad record keeping and week in jail, not the strip searches.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:22 AM

And again, I highly doubt that the bad record keeping and week in jail ever could have been litigated at the level of the Supreme Court. I guess it all boil’s down to one’s faith in the criminal justice system, or lack thereof.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:24 AM

I hope you get strip searched sometime, bud.

Viator on April 3, 2012 at 9:26 AM

There was a time in American history where no could have guessed the outcome of a supreme court decisions.

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Hardly.
Roe V Wade was the first step to creating law behind the bench.

This court has taken the step backward to interpreting the law, instead of making it.

itsspideyman on April 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Hardly.
Roe V Wade was the first step to creating law behind the bench.

This court has taken the step backward to interpreting the law, instead of making it.

itsspideyman on April 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Roe V. Wade was NOT the first step. Marbury V. Madison was.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

And I guess it wasn’t a political court in the 30′s and 40′s when FDR, the Democrat saint tried to stack the SCOTUS in his favor by adding more seats (or at least trying)?

Logus on April 3, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Roe V. Wade was NOT the first step. Marbury V. Madison was.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:30 AM

A valid point, gryphon. I guess the “modern era” is the best statement. :)

itsspideyman on April 3, 2012 at 9:33 AM

When will a HotAir piece ever come down on the side of the Constitution?

Dante on April 3, 2012 at 9:34 AM

If a decision in this case leads to every person who winds up being searched bringing a lawsuit, you’re leaving open the door to crippling law enforcement efforts.

That’s not even the point. The point is that it would become embarrassingly easy to smuggle weapons and drugs into jails. People would secret stuff on their bodies and then commit some minor crime and not give any reason to strip-search, and voila – contraband is smuggled into the jail.

I don’t think the ruling allows strip searches of every person stopped. It allows strip searches of people arrested and placed into the prison. there is a significant difference there.

Monkeytoe on April 3, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

An idiotic response is, of course, expected and you came through. I suppose this means that when there is a decision conservatives don’t agree with (which happens routinely), we are free to dismiss SCOTUS as an arm of the democrats? I already am pretty confident that the liberal justices never actually rely on the law in their decision-making and instead only vote based on their ideology, so I guess I’m half-way there.

Monkeytoe on April 3, 2012 at 9:37 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Good, let’s put a stake in the heart of Obamacare, then move on to the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

But that’s not what I asked. You’d be okay with being strip searched knowing that it’s in the name of your own safety? I suppose the court was called on to define what constitutes “reasonable” search and seizure in this instance, and I can’t fault them for doing their job in making that determination. But I, for one, would be incensed if I found myself in this particular situation. YMMV.

gryphon202 on April 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Yep, bring it. Strip search? Meh. I don’t have anything to hide. They can look at my emails, tap my phone, look at my browser history, whatever. If I’m going to the joint, somebody lookin’ up the old dirt hole ain’t my biggest concern. As long as the same rules apply to everyone.

“But that’s just me, I could be wrong.”

The Honey Badger

The Honey Badger on April 3, 2012 at 9:41 AM

The supreme court is now a political arm of the GOP and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

That’s not true. What is true that the time period when the Court was the political arm of the Democratic party (from 1937 until some point in the 90′s), the Court actively advanced the Democratic agenda. I don’t think even if Romney were to appoint a replacement for Ginsburg that the Supreme Court, I don’t think the Court would be actively advancing the GOP agenda. It may find some of what the Court as a political arm of the Democratic Party unconstitutional. Basic notions of fairness suggests that a GOP dominated Supreme Court should be allowed to overturn Democratic judicial aggression.

thuja on April 3, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Then you understand neither the law nor police procedure. When an officer runs a warrant check and finds that the system shows a warrant he or she is allowed to detain the person, The officer must then wait until he or she receives confirmation that the warrant exists. If the officer is told the warrant exists he may then arrest the person. Just because the information the officer is given is inaccurate, it doesn’t make the arrest “bad”. Courts have ruled repeatedly that officers may act on the information that is available to them at the time they take the action. Strip searching arrested persons on entry into a jail is standard operating procedure for jails. I was a watch supervisor in a city jail for a while and you wouldn’t believe the kind of things that can get inside a jail facility if people aren’t searched properly.

Trafalgar on April 3, 2012 at 9:24 AM

This. The strip-search is done to protect everyone in the system, both prisoners and guards. It’s standard procedure when someone is booked into the jail, just like taking away their belt(s) and shoe laces.

TKindred on April 3, 2012 at 9:42 AM

You’re wrong Jazz; Convenience shouldn’t trump the Constitution. “It’s too hard” is not a good argument.

NotEasilyFooled on April 3, 2012 at 9:43 AM

It’s JAIL. He is in the company of criminals.

Should civil servants have no right to protect themselves from weapons and contraband because of rigid adherence to the ‘rights’ of criminals in their charge?

Florence can complain about the fact he was detained but not the fact he wasn’t given special privileges based on the nature of his crime.

DANEgerus on April 3, 2012 at 9:46 AM

A lawsuit for clerical incompetence resulting n humiliation by this department should suffice.

profitsbeard on April 3, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Outcomes like this are one reason why it carries absolutely no weight with Ron Paul supporters when conservatives tell us, “You must vote for Romney because of the Supreme Court!” No, Republican nominees for the court will be supporters of the ever-expanding police state and the continued destruction of the 4th amendment for the sake of the stupid wars on drugs and “terror”.

jamesjtyler on April 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM

I disagree. This is appalling.

Kevin M on April 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Hmmmm, I think I’m going to rethink my driving habits.

Cindy Munford on April 3, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Always best not to be stopped in the first place. Also good to take care of those tickets before they morph into FTA warrants in the first place. Once the warrant is in the system it can be (shouldn’t be, but can be) problematic getting it out.

Even having cash money for bond available doesn’t help if the warrant is a no-bond for FTA. This guy needed a lawyer to go to the court that issued the warrant ASAP.

There is no excuse, none, for this guy to have been held this long on a recalled warrant that wasn’t purged. Here in Indiana, he would have been in front of a judge in 48 hours. Even then, he would still have a false imprisonment case against the jurisdiction that didn’t purge the warrant.

novaculus on April 3, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Outcomes like this are one reason why it carries absolutely no weight with Ron Paul supporters when conservatives tell us, “You must vote for Romney because of the Supreme Court!” No, Republican nominees for the court will be supporters of the ever-expanding police state and the continued destruction of the 4th amendment for the sake of the stupid wars on drugs and “terror”.

jamesjtyler on April 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Of course, common sense carries no weight with Ron Paul supporters. They just want to build a 30 foot wall around America and lay around and smoke dope all day. Oh yeah, and abolish the Fed.

Police state? Oh yeah, police, the guys that will come take the report when some thug shoots you in your own house because you think guns are evil!

And by the way, all you HotAir people are racist. Or something.

The Honey Badger

The Honey Badger on April 3, 2012 at 9:56 AM

What is “wtong” is the idea that somebody detained for a non-violent offense is, by definition, not carrying contraband. Are you honestly suggesting that “tandom” people who ride in BMWs are incapable of carrying drugs or other contraband?

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

What does the brand of car, bike or whatever have to do with anything??

For you to believe that if anyone may be a dangerous criminal, then we all must be, is wrong. It is clearly a violation of the 4th Amendment to create a police state wherein every citizen is in reality, a suspect.

Not to mention it’s a violation of common sense and common decency.

KMC1 on April 3, 2012 at 9:57 AM

But perhaps there’s a bit more of a “free market” remedy available. If one cop or one department comes up in the news too often abusing strip searches or any other sort of abusive behavior, the public can and will be made aware of it and corrective action can be taken at the local level rather than handcuffing everyone in the nation with a badge.

This is SO naive. Try reading Radley Balko at a while and see how often police get punished for stuff like this.

In no time, as a result of this ruling, police will be using strip searches as extra-judicial punishments of anyone who commits “contempt-of-cop” and various other non-crimes.

Conservatives’ knee-jerk defense of police and police abuse disgusts me.

jamesjtyler on April 3, 2012 at 9:58 AM

There was a time in American history where no could have guessed the outcome of a supreme court decisions.

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Ah, for the good old days, when no one could predict that liberal justices, emboldened by being a majority, could conjure “penumbras” of privacy hidden between the lines of the constitution.

novaculus on April 3, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Police state? Oh yeah, police, the guys that will come take the report when some thug shoots you in your own house because you think guns are evil!

I’ve even never heard of a Ron Paul supporter who thinks guns are evil…

jamesjtyler on April 3, 2012 at 10:00 AM

should have been “never even heard of”

jamesjtyler on April 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM

I just want to know how the hell Jazz Shaw got called up to the varsity?

And we need a better quality of trolls here.

And we should all get a free HotAir hoodie!

The Honey Badger

The Honey Badger on April 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM

There was a time in American history where no could have guessed the outcome of a supreme court decisions.

Those days are gone. It is now a political court.

liberal4life on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Oh, and let’s not forget that famous decision when the justices decided that a poor farmer growing crops on his own farm to feed his own livestock in an effort to avoid commerce of any kind was engaging not just in commerce but interstate commerce and subject to regulation by Congress under the Commerce Clause.

Who could have seen that one coming? Good times, good times.

novaculus on April 3, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Where is OOTD?

katy the mean old lady on April 3, 2012 at 8:40 AM

.
It’s on vacation with Morrissey.

ExpressoBold on April 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM

I just want to know how the hell Jazz Shaw got called up to the varsity?

The Honey Badger on April 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Shaw is a proponent of the police state. Recall his entry in which he was in favor of paying the TSA $100 extortion money to continue to have his rights infringed upon, an idea he called long overdue.

Dante on April 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Police state? Oh yeah, police, the guys that will come take the report when some thug shoots you in your own house because you think guns are evil!

I’ve never even heard of a Ron Paul supporter who thinks guns are evil…

jamesjtyler on April 3, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Point taken. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the Libertarian philosophy. They lost me at “I’m a social liberal but a fiscal conservative.”

Social Liberals don’t ever consider the cost, fiscal conservatives always consider the cost. The intellectual disconnect doesn’t work for me. Plus, Ron Paul is kinda nuts.

The Libertarians that I know well seem to just sit on the fence and try to look all intellectual (like a Liberal) while still keeping the far-Left loons at arms reach. And while they don’t usually talk pro-gun control, they don’t own or like them very much.

But it’s sort of a small sample.

Did I mention Ron Paul is kinda nuts?

The Honey Badger

The Honey Badger on April 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM

But if someone is going to jail, I want them thoroughly searched for contraband. Nothing worse than going to jail over partying too hearty and getting stabbed in the drunk tank because the guy next to you thought you were an alien. Or finding a gun to your head from Cornelius Q Gangbanga when you are in jail for an unpaid speeding ticket.

Sekhmet on April 3, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Sounds reasonable to me.

I don’t quite understand the opposition to this position, can someone explain why someone going to jail should not be strip searched in a way that sounds reasonable?

jhffmn on April 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM

the defense of this ruling seems to boil down to, “we should trust the police because bad people do bad things and bring bad stuff into the jail.” That is all well and good except when the police do bad things based on bad information, up to and including shooting people, breaking down the doors of the wrong house, strip searching people and on and on, we so rarely see any repercussions. Of course there is always the “internal investigation” that takes place while an officer is placed on “administrative leave with pay,” and that almost always ends up with a finding that they “followed procedure,” and are therefore cleared of any wrongdoing. Never mind that someone is still dead, or privacy’s violated, or door busted in. It’s all okay because bad people do bad things and we want to be safe.

It is the same justification given for the TSA’s nudie scan and grope fest. Bad people do bad things so grandma has to be fondled even while her luggage is being rifled through and her things stolen.

theblackcommenter on April 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM

This is what a police state looks like. Jazz is worried about chilling effect on police in future cases. Hey Jazz, have you looked around lately at the scope and degree of governmental overreach? The police ARE the Governments enforcement arm among the US population. It is the POLICE who enforce the governments massive out of control encroachment into every citizens life.

The Police do not make the laws, they enforce through intimidation and violence the decision of the US government. Never ever ever forget, the Gestapo, the KGB and the Stasi were all their subjective nations legitimate Law Enforcement Agencies. Don’t even suggest that it can’t happen here, it is that very denial that allowed a Marxist to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It not only can happen here, it already has happened here.

SWalker on April 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM

For you to believe that if anyone may be a dangerous criminal, then we all must be, is wrong. It is clearly a violation of the 4th Amendment to create a police state wherein every citizen is in reality, a suspect.

Not to mention it’s a violation of common sense and common decency.

KMC1 on April 3, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Two points.

First, the police have a responsibility to keep all detainees safe. It is not a matter of treating everybody as a dangerous criminal as it is a matter of maintaining control over an environment filled with dangerous criminals. Would you be such a whining moron if it was the estate of Mr. Florence filing suit because he was stabbed to death while detained. Strip searches are a tool to maintain control in jails. Nothing more.

Secondly, there are far worse things in life than strip searching detainees. I’d save terms like violation of commonsense and decency for times when it really applies. A male guard seeing Mr. Florence naked is not one of those times.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Did I mention Ron Paul is kinda nuts?

I was right there with you back during the 2008 election. But I read one of his books on the urging of my brother and found myself agreeing with him on everything. (He expresses himself far better in his books than in extemporaneous speaking).

Have a nice day, have to go be productive now.

jamesjtyler on April 3, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Point taken. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the Libertarian philosophy. They lost me at “I’m a social liberal but a fiscal conservative.”

Social Liberals don’t ever consider the cost, fiscal conservatives always consider the cost. The intellectual disconnect doesn’t work for me. Plus, Ron Paul is kinda nuts.

The Libertarians that I know well seem to just sit on the fence and try to look all intellectual (like a Liberal) while still keeping the far-Left loons at arms reach. And while they don’t usually talk pro-gun control, they don’t own or like them very much.

But it’s sort of a small sample.

Did I mention Ron Paul is kinda nuts?

The Honey Badger

The Honey Badger on April 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Your ignorance is astonishing.

Dante on April 3, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Ah, for the good old days, when no one could predict that liberal justices, emboldened by being a majority, could conjure “penumbras” of privacy hidden between the lines of the constitution.

novaculus on April 3, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Ah for the good old days when the President respected a co-equal branch of government and didn’t call them out in whining lectures about his agenda.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Your ignorance is astonishing.

Dante on April 3, 2012 at 10:24 AM

What part of Ron Paul is nuts is inaccurate?

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

What this amounts to is SCOTUS ruling that our Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches is trumped when the government MAKES A MISTAKE (ie: he never should have been arrested in the first place).

wildcat72 on April 3, 2012 at 8:48 AM

A warrant for someone’s arrest provides a reasonable basis for a search subsequent to that arrest. That the warrant was an error does not mean that the officer, who was unaware of this error, or those booking the individual into the system violated the 4th amendment.

This is a case of dig into why the fine being paid was not properly recorded and do what can be done to fix what caused the error. Meanwhile, compensate the individual wrongly held for any wages he lost. That would be both justice and public interest being served.

KW64 on April 3, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Your ignorance is astonishing.

Dante on April 3, 2012 at 10:24 AM

You trollness is obvious.

The Honey Badger

The Honey Badger on April 3, 2012 at 10:28 AM

This is a case of dig into why the fine being paid was not properly recorded and do what can be done to fix what caused the error. Meanwhile, compensate the individual wrongly held for any wages he lost. That would be both justice and public interest being served.

KW64 on April 3, 2012 at 10:28 AM

What was the justification for strip searching someone for a misdemeanor traffic infraction? No, sorry this was a brutal abuse of authority by the police, but sadly, as we have already been transformed into a fascist totalitarian police state rather than being as genuinely offended by this action, as America’s founding fathers would have been, the majority of our fellow citizens have been brainwashed into thinking that crime rates and previous criminals action make this incident 100 percent acceptable and justified. THIS IS WHAT A POLICE STATE LOOKS LIKE.

SWalker on April 3, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Well, he should be a very rich man now. All he needs to do is sue. Basically, he was arrested on false grounds. He did time for no reason at all. The city will settle.

jeffn21 on April 3, 2012 at 8:35 AM

It doesn’t work that way. He wasn’t arrested “on false grounds”, but due to bad recordkeeping. His suit would have to prove malicious intent in that recordkeeping to win. He has a better chance contesting the legitimacy of the length of his detention.

Freelancer on April 3, 2012 at 10:41 AM

What was the justification for strip searching someone for a misdemeanor traffic infraction?

SWalker on April 3, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Look, let’s get this straight. He was not strip searched for a misdemeanor traffic violation. He was strip searched because he was about to be admitted to the general population of a jail and it’s standard operating procedure for all jail facilities. I doubt that you’ve ever been responsible for managing a jail or even been inside one, but jails are dangerous places and it is the responsibility of those running the jail to make sure that everyone, staff and inmates, are safe. Even with proper search procedures enormous amounts of contraband make it inside jails, imagine what it would be like if jails weren’t allowed to search? How would you feel if it was Mr. Florence’s family suing the jail because they failed to search the inmate who stabbed Mr. Florence to death inside the jail?

Trafalgar on April 3, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Comment pages: 1 2