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  1. #1
    BEB
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    Chaos follows strip search suit settlement

    This lawyer has successfully cost taxpayers around the country at least $33.2 million by my count (this from the guy who messed up the math on DeputyJailer's birthday so double check that)

    Two issues here, the policy and the lottery, er, I mean class-action settlement. You can guess my opinion of the latter.

    As for the strip searching policy, I'm going to need some explanation. On the surface it seems ludicrous, and usually when something seems that way there's another side of the story not being reported.

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/...a/16809008.htm

    Chaos follows strip search suit settlement
    OAKLAND: As word spread of $6.2 million deal, hundreds of people flooded the courthouse to fill out claim forms
    By Chris Metinko
    CONTRA COSTA TIMES

    News of a $6.2-million settlement of a class-action lawsuit over illegal strip searches at Santa Rita Jail whipped up excitement at the Alameda County Administration building Wednesday.

    Crowds of people turned up at the county clerk's office to file claims in hopes of cashing in on the settlement.

    The crush of claimants spilled out the fifth-floor clerk's office and was eventually moved by deputies to the building's lobby. Lines wrapped around the administration building Wednesday afternoon as hundreds of people waited outside for their turn to file a claim.

    The actual settlement concerns a case filed in federal court last fall by Daniel Schaffer and his Sacramento-based attorney, Mark Merin. Schaffer sued both the county and then-Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer after he was arrested following a traffic stop and illegally strip-searched before his arraignment.

    Merin, who has filed class-action suits against several counties in California and other states in the past years for illegal strip searches, claimed in the suit the act of strip-searching prisoners not arrested for drug, violence or weapons violations before they are arraigned, and without having any reasonable suspicions that the searches will reveal contraband, is unconstitutional and inhumane. He also charged that Alameda County's group strip-searches violated prisoners' rights and privacy.

    "Sheriff departments cannot have a blanket policy where everyone is strip searched without reasonable suspicion," Merin said. "It's dehumanizing."

    The settlement -- approved Tuesday by county supervisors in closed session -- led to confusion at the administration building in Oakland as people who heard rumors about the suit flocked to fill out claim forms they believed would make them eligible to be part of the suit. However, the judge in the case has not signed off on the settlement, no class has been officially certified and no claim form for the lawsuit has been created.

    The confusion led many to fill out what is the basic county claim form, which has nothing to do with the class-action suit.

    "There's really a lot of bad information out there," said Richard Winnie, Alameda County counsel. "It's really unfortunate."

    For much of the afternoon, hundreds lined up and milled around the building's plaza to fill out claim forms that have nothing to do with the case.

    James Forrest, 39 of Oakland, filled out a form claiming $8,000 of damage for his group strip search.

    "It's not a lot of money when you consider the time they took from us," he said. "The dignity they took from us."

    Once a class is certified, Merin said he believes about 37,000 people will be eligible to take part in the suit. At that time, there will be advertising with information on how to file a claim in this suit. Those eligible will have to have been arrested between Jan. 17, 2004 and Dec. 31, 2006, Merin said.

    Although many of those waiting Wednesday said they had heard claimants would receive $8,000 each, Merin said those who were strip searched in a group on a misdemeanor offense could receive $200. Those who were strip searched on a misdemeanor offense not involving drugs, weapons or violence and with no reasonable suspicion of contraband could get $1,500 or more.

    Winnie said the county estimates the number of eligible plaintiffs will be fewer, perhaps about 20,000.

    Merin has been successful in strip search cases before. He won a $15 million judgment against Sacramento County for illegal strip searches at the county jail, and another $6 million judgment for juveniles who were illegally strip-searched at juvenile hall in the same county. He was one of a few attorneys who negotiated a $6 million settlement with Miami-Dade County in Florida on behalf of three women who were strip-searched.

    Merin recently settled a similar case in San Mateo counties as well as in Lincoln County, N.M., as well as filing one last week in Santa Cruz against the county and its jail. Merin has other cases pending in Contra Costa, San Francisco and Solano counties.

  2. #2
    Jackalope's Avatar
    Jackalope is offline Yell O
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    I cannot believe those chicken shit county supervisors would settle this case.

    No reasonable suspicion??? How's this: People breaking the law know there's a chance they will go to jail. People going to jail know that smuggling weapons or contraband into said jail will benefit them in any number of ways. Therefore, people coming into the jail are likely to be attempting to smuggle contraband.
    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"
    ~Mighty Mighty Bosstones~

  3. #3
    BEB
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    Any verifieds, especially with jail experience, have a comment?

    Jackalope, I like you, but nothing pisses me off more than a civi trying to play cop.

  4. #4
    Jackalope's Avatar
    Jackalope is offline Yell O
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    I wasn't playing a cop. I was using common sense. It would be completely absurd not to search people coming into a jail.

    And I do have a very small amount of jail experience, working in book-in as an Explorer.
    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"
    ~Mighty Mighty Bosstones~

 

 

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