845 F.2d 374 (2nd Cir. 1988), 1662, Williams v. Ward

Docket Nº:1662, Docket 87-7572.
Citation:845 F.2d 374
Party Name:John WILLIAMS, Leonard Altman, Anthony Richards, Charles Lewis, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Benjamin WARD, in his official capacity as Police Commissioner of the City of New York; New York City Police Department; Richard J. Koehler, in his official capacity as Commissioner of Correction of t
Case Date:April 19, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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Page 374

845 F.2d 374 (2nd Cir. 1988)

John WILLIAMS, Leonard Altman, Anthony Richards, Charles

Lewis, individually and on behalf of all others

similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

Benjamin WARD, in his official capacity as Police

Commissioner of the City of New York; New York City Police

Department; Richard J. Koehler, in his official capacity as

Commissioner of Correction of the City of New York; New

York City Department of Correction; Edward I. Koch, in his

official capacity as Mayor of the City of New York; the

City of New York, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 1662, Docket 87-7572.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

April 19, 1988

Argued Aug. 10, 1987.

As Amended April 26, 1988.

Page 375

Jeffrey E. Glen, New York City (Peter L. Zimroth, Corp. Counsel of the City of New York, New York City, Terrence R. Real, Dynda Andrews, of counsel), for defendants-appellants.

Steven G. Asin, New York City (Caesar D. Cirigliano, Attorney-in-Charge, Criminal Defense Div., The Legal Aid Soc., New York City, Ivar Goldart, of counsel), for plaintiffs-appellees.

Before WINTER and MAHONEY, Circuit Judges, and STEWART, [*] District Judge.

WINTER, Circuit Judge:

Under current procedures in New York City, a person who is arrested without a warrant first appears before a judicial officer at an arraignment in the City's Criminal Court. At that arraignment, the arrestee is afforded counsel, a probable-cause determination is made, pretrial release conditions are set, plea bargains are often struck, and charges may be dropped. Over one-third of such arrestees have their cases finally disposed of at arraignment. The rub is that arrestees must often sit in jail for more than two days before the arraignment. The plaintiffs in this case challenge the length of such detention, arguing that a prompt probable-cause determination should be made after each arrest.

Appellees brought this class action under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 (1982) on behalf of themselves and all persons in the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens who are arrested without warrants and who are detained by the City without a probable-cause determination by a judicial officer. Appellees sought a declaration that the length of time that class members are detained before probable cause is determined constitutes a violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution as interpreted in Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 95 S.Ct. 854, 43 L.Ed.2d 54 (1975). Appellees also requested an injunction directing appellants to conduct probable-cause hearings promptly after completion of the necessary "administrative steps incident to arrest," id. at 114, 95 S.Ct. at 863, and to refrain from engaging in practices that delay completion of such administrative steps. After conducting a trial on stipulated facts, Judge Motley held that detention of class members beyond a period of twenty-four hours violated their constitutional rights. Williams v. Ward, 671 F.Supp. 225, 226 (S.D.N.Y.1987). The district court accordingly enjoined appellants, "except in exceptional circumstances," "from taking more than seven hours to complete steps necessary and incident to the arrest of plaintiffs and members of their class." The district court also enjoined appellants, "except in exceptional circumstances," "from holding in their custody

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any plaintiff or member of their class beyond a twenty-four period without a probable cause determination before a state judge." Because we disagree with the district court's interpretation of the relevant Supreme Court cases, we reverse.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

According to the parties' Stipulated Statement of Facts, 671 F.Supp. at 228-36, in "virtually all" criminal cases in New York City, suspects who are arrested without warrants receive a probable-cause hearing before a judicial officer only at their arraignment before a "local criminal court" pursuant to N.Y.Crim.Proc.Law Sec. 110.10(2)(a) (McKinney 1981). In New York City, the "local criminal court" in which arraignments are conducted is the Criminal Court of the City of New York, see id. Sec. 10.10(3)(b); N.Y.City Crim.Ct.Act Sec. 41 (McKinney Supp.1987), which is part of the "unified court system" of the State of New York. See N.Y. Const. art. 6, Sec. 1. The Criminal Court is supervised by the administrative board of the state judicial conference, which consists of the chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals and the presiding judges of the state's four Appellate Divisions. The New York State Legislature and the state's Office of Court Administration determine both the number and assignment of judges in the Criminal Court and provide for the cost of operating the courts. Id. art. 6, Secs. 28, 29. The City provides and pays for the maintenance and operation of courthouses and their physical plants. The Mayor of the City of New York appoints individuals to Criminal Court judgeships but has no power over the number of such judgeships.

The process by which arrestees presently make their way from the streets of New York to an arraignment courtroom is long and complex. The details of this process, however, are not in dispute. The parties agree that, in general, the initial eleven to fifteen hours after a warrantless arrest are consumed by police functions that include searching and securing the arrestee and ultimately transporting him to the central "booking" facility for the county in which the arrest was made. The New York City Police Department maintains these facilities, which are open twenty-four hours each day, in New York, Bronx, Kings and Queens Counties. The booking facilities in Queens and Bronx Counties are located in the courthouses of those counties; in New York and Kings Counties, however, the facilities are located approximately one-half mile from their respective courthouses.

Upon making a warrantless arrest, a New York City police officer first conducts a frisk search of the arrestee at the scene of the arrest. The officer then transports the arrestee to the officer's precinct stationhouse and later to a central booking facility. Occasionally, an officer may transport the arrestee directly to the booking facility. In the vast majority of cases, however, the police search and secure the arrestee at a precinct stationhouse, where the arresting officer reviews the arrest with a supervising police official to determine the appropriateness of the arrest, the charges to be filed and the need for additional investigation. The arresting officer also prepares a complaint arrest report, a property voucher form, and other forms that may be needed. In addition, the officer completes a handwritten copy of an "On Line Booking System" ("OLBS") arrest report either at the precinct or at the central booking facility.

According to police regulations, if the time necessary to complete these procedures is expected to exceed two hours, the police must take the arrestee's fingerprints at the precinct. Under such circumstances, the regulations require that the fingerprints be transported by automobile to the appropriate central booking facility, prior to the arrival of the arrestee, for electronic transmission to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services ("DCJS"). In turn, DCJS uses the fingerprints to retrieve the arrestee's prior criminal record, if any. Despite the regulations, however, an arrestee's paperwork and fingerprints are usually not taken to a central booking facility until the arrestee is taken there. On average, the arrestee arrives at a central booking facility four to six hours after arrest.

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Once an arrestee is taken to a central booking facility, the police photograph the arrestee, take the arrestee's fingerprints (if not already taken), search and secure the arrestee, and conduct further supervisory review of the charges to be brought against him. In addition, the police enter information from the OLBS arrest report into a computer (with the arresting officer present for consultation) and electronically transmit fingerprints and other identification data to DCJS to obtain the suspect's "rap sheet," consisting of his criminal record and outstanding warrants. In general, the processing of arrestees at central booking facilities takes between one and two hours. Once the arresting officer has completed his duties at the central booking facility, the officer proceeds immediately (without waiting for the return of a rap sheet from DCJS) to the district attorney's Early Case Assessment Bureau (commonly known as the "complaint room"), where the officer is interviewed in order to assist in the preparation of an accusatory instrument.

In New York, Kings and Bronx Counties, fingerprints and other information are transmitted to DCJS by laser facsimile equipment and are received in Albany within thirty seconds of transmission. 1 In Queens, the police use "datalog" equipment that is capable of providing fingerprints and other information to DCJS in either nine or fourteen minutes, depending on the type of datalog equipment used. Although laser transmission is faster, datalog transmission provides better resolution. Regardless of the method of transmission used, however, the pace at which transmissions to DCJS are made and rap sheets are returned depends on the number of police personnel available to take fingerprints, the number of police and DCJS machines available to transmit and to receive fingerprints and other information, the number of persons available to operate such machines, and the amount of equipment available to transmit and receive rap sheets. In addition, delays may occur if the quality of the fingerprints, or of their electronically reproduced images, is poor. DCJS informs the police that a fingerprint is not readable within...

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