496 F.3d 1288 (11th Cir. 2007), 05-16734, Powell v. Barrett

Docket Nº:05-16734.
Citation:496 F.3d 1288
Party Name:C. Alan POWELL, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Tory Dunlap, individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated, et al., Plaintiffs Appellees Cross-Appellants, v. Sheriff Jacqueline BARRETT, Fulton County, State of Georgia, Sheriff Myron Freeman, Fulton County, State of Georgia, et al., Defendants-Appellants C
Case Date:August 23, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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496 F.3d 1288 (11th Cir. 2007)

C. Alan POWELL, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Tory Dunlap, individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated, et al., Plaintiffs Appellees Cross-Appellants,

v.

Sheriff Jacqueline BARRETT, Fulton County, State of Georgia, Sheriff Myron Freeman, Fulton County, State of Georgia, et al., Defendants-Appellants Cross-Appellees.

No. 05-16734.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

August 23, 2007

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Sidney Leighton Moore, III, Teresa Wynn Roseborough, John H. Fleming, Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, LLP, Theodore H. Lackland, Lackland & Heyward, Atlanta, GA, for Defendants.

William Charles Claiborne, III, Washington, DC, George Brian Spears, Law Office of Brian Spears, Charles B. Pekor, Daniel Eliot DeWoskin, Pekor & DeWoskin, LLC, Coy J. Johnson, Jr., Rolesia Butler Dancy, Willie Jake Lovett, Jr., Fulton

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Cty. Attorney's Office, Overtis Hicks Brantley, City Law Dept., Atlanta, GA, Barrett S. Litt, Litt, Estuar, Harrison, Miller & Kitson, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiffs.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Before BLACK and HULL, Circuit Judges, and RYSKAMP, [*] District Judge.

BLACK, Circuit Judge:

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Allegations in the Complaint Concerning the Jail's Strip Search Policy

1. Strip Searches as part of Point-of Entry Booking into the Jail (AR Group)

2. Strip Searches after Becoming Entitled to Release at the Jail (AL Group)

3. Strip Searches upon Returning from Court Appearance (CR Group)

B. Section 1983 Claims based on the Jail's Strip Search Policy

1. Claims against the Sheriffs

2. Claims against the County and the Board

3. Claims against the City

C. District Court's Order

II. DISCUSSION

A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity from Suit in Official Capacity

1. Eleventh Amendment Factors

a. How state law defines the sheriff's office

b. Where state law vests control

c. Where the entity derives its funds

d. Liability for and payment of adverse judgments

2. Local Constitutional Amendments

B. Qualified Immunity from Suit in Individual Capacity

  1. Constitutional Violation

    a. Strip searches of AR Group Plaintiffs

    b. Strip Searches of AL and CR Group Plaintiffs

  2. Clearly Established Law

    a. Strip Searches of AR Group Plaintiffs

    b. Strip Searches of AL and CR Group Plaintiffs

    C. Municipal Liability of the County and the City under § 1983

    1. Liability of the City

    2. Liability of the County

    III. CONCLUSION

    Plaintiffs, 11 male former detainees at the Fulton County Jail (the Jail), filed a putative class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the former and current sheriffs of the Jail (the Sheriffs), Fulton County (the County), the members of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners (the Board), and the City of Atlanta (the City) (collectively, Defendants). 1 In their Fourth Amended Complaint (the Complaint), Plaintiffs claim their constitutional rights were violated when they were subjected at the Jail to "blanket strip searches," or strip searches without an individualized finding of reasonable suspicion that each Plaintiff was concealing weapons, drugs, or other contraband. Defendants filed motions to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim, arguing, inter alia, the Sheriffs were entitled to both Eleventh Amendment immunity and qualified immunity and the County and City lacked the requisite control over the policies at the Jail to be liable as municipalities

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    under § 1983. In an order dated July 5, 2005 (the Order), the district court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motions to dismiss.2 In this appeal and cross-appeal, the parties challenge the district court's Order. After hearing oral argument, considering the parties' briefs, and reviewing the pertinent record, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand in part.3

    I. BACKGROUND

    In the Complaint, Plaintiffs sue former Sheriff Jacqueline Barrett in her individual capacity, current Sheriff Myron Freeman in his official and individual capacities, the County, the Board, 4 and the City. Plaintiffs seek both monetary damages and injunctive relief against Defendants.5 Plaintiffs challenge the blanket strip searches at the Jail on behalf of three putative classes: the Arrestee Strip Search Class (AR Group), Alpha Strip Search Class (AL Group), and Court Return Strip Search Class (CR Group).6 Although the Complaint contains a chart showing the Plaintiffs included in each strip search group, there are some discrepancies between the chart and the allegations in the Complaint. The chart that appears in the appendix to this opinion is consistent with the allegations in the Complaint, and we rely on the appended chart for purposes of our opinion. As shown in the chart, the Plaintiffs and their respective strip search groups are as follows: C. Alan Powell (AR and AL Groups), 7 David Evans (AR and CR Groups), Stanley Clemons (AR Group), Allen Middleton (AR Group), Anthony Westbrook (AR Group), Benjamin Blake (AR Group), Harry Witherspoon (AR Group), Antionne Wolf (AR and CR Groups), and Kristopher Alan Matkin (AL Group).8 Plaintiffs identify

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    three types of blanket strip searches [9 they contend violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights: (1) blanket strip searches of arrestees as part of their point-of-entry booking into the Jail (AR Group); (2) blanket strip searches of detainees who posted bond or were ordered released at the Jail before their point-of-entry booking into the Jail was started or completed (AL Group); and (3) blanket strip searches of detainees who return from a court appearance after having been ordered released in state court (CR Group).10

    We first summarize the factual allegations in the Complaint as they pertain to each group. We then explain the claims against the various Defendants and summarize the district court's rulings on those claims.

    A. Factual Allegations in the Complaint Concerning the Jail's Strip Search Policy

    1. Strip Searches as part of Point-of-Entry Booking into the Jail (AR Group)

    According to the Complaint, there is a policy at the Jail whereby every male arrestee "booked" [11 into the Jail's general population upon entering the Jail, regardless of the crime for which he is arrested, is subjected to a strip search without an individualized finding of reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is concealing weapons, drugs, or other contraband. Each male arrestee is placed in a room with a group of 30 or 40 other persons, removes all of his clothing and places it in boxes, and, along with the group, takes a shower.12 Each arrestee then either by himself or standing in line with others is visually inspected front and back by deputies. The booking strip search process is referred to as "dressing out." The AR Group Plaintiffs allege they were subjected to blanket strip searches as part of their point-of-entry booking into the Jail.

    2. Strip Searches after Becoming Entitled to Release at the Jail (AL Group)

    According to the Complaint, the Jail's inmate management system is so inefficient that many persons committed to the Jail either post bond (or have someone post it for them) or are ordered released at First Appearance hearings at the Jail before

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    their point-of-entry booking into the Jail has been started or completed. 13 Because these detainees were not booked immediately upon entering the Jail, they are subjected to the booking process--including the booking strip searches--after posting bond or having been ordered released at the Jail. Plaintiffs allege that, as a result, there is a practice of subjecting detainees who are to be released to booking strip searches before they are released from the Jail. 14 The AL Group Plaintiffs allege they were subjected to booking strip searches after having posted bond, in the case of Powell, or having been ordered released at a First Appearance hearing at the Jail, in the case of Matkin. It is not clear why Jail officials included the strip searches as part of the late booking process for the AL Group Plaintiffs given that they were to be released. However, we assume the AL Group Plaintiffs were strip searched because they were placed into the Jail's general population, where they were held while the staff in the Records Room checked for other detention orders, warrants, or holds and processed their release.

    3. Strip Searches upon Returning from Court Appearance (CR Group)

    Further, Plaintiffs allege the Jail has a policy whereby detainees who have been ordered released by a judge in state court are returned to the Jail following their court appearance instead of being released from the courthouse. Upon their return to the Jail, these detainees are subjected to blanket strip searches and booked back into the Jail's general population while the Record Rooms staff checked for other warrants or holds and processed their release.15 The CR Group Plaintiffs, Evans and Wolf, allege they were subjected to blanket strip searches upon returning to the Jail after their court appearances. Unlike the AL Group Plaintiffs, the CR Group Plaintiffs were immediately booked upon entering the Jail and thus were already strip searched once before.16 The CR Group Plaintiffs allege that, while in transit to and from the Jail and while at the courthouse, they were under constant...

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