Hall v. City of Chicago, 032320 FED7, 19-1347

Docket Nº:19-1347
Opinion Judge:St. Eve, Circuit Judge
Party Name:John Hall, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. City of Chicago, Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before Bauer, Easterbrook, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 23, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

John Hall, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,


City of Chicago, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 19-1347

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 23, 2020

Argued December 12, 2019

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 12 CV 6834 - Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge.

Before Bauer, Easterbrook, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.

St. Eve, Circuit Judge

Plaintiffs in this case ask us to address the proper scope of a Terry stop. Police officers stopped Plaintiffs numerous times for violating a City ordinance while they were panhandling on the streets of Chicago. During the course of these street stops, the officers typically asked Plaintiffs to produce identification ("ID"). The officers then proceeded to use the provided ID cards to search for any outstanding warrants for their arrest or investigative alerts-a process we will call a "warrant check" or a "name check." Plaintiffs contend the officers would not return their IDs to them until after completing the name checks.

Plaintiffs brought an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Chicago, claiming that name checks unnecessarily prolong street stops and that the delays constitute unreasonable detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment. They also assert that the City maintained an unconstitutional policy or practice of performing these name checks pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Plaintiffs' Monell claim arises under several possible theories: that the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") Special Order regulating name checks omitted essential constitutional limits, that CPD failed to train on these same constitutional limits, and that former Superintendent Garry McCarthy promulgated an unconstitutional policy by promoting name checks in conjunction with every street stop.

We conclude that officers may execute a name check on an individual incidental to a proper stop under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 16 (1968), as long as the resulting delay is reasonable. Plaintiffs have failed to establish that they suffered an underlying constitutional violation such that the City can be held liable under Monell. We therefore affirm.

I. Background

For many years, CPD used "contact cards" to document

Terry stops and other interactions between police and citizens. Each contact card details personal information about the stopped individual, including his or her physical description, address, social security number, driver's license number, and employer information. Between January 2010 and January 2016, CPD documented over 3.3 million street encounters with citizens using contact cards and their successor form- Investigatory Stop Reports.

Roughly two-thirds of these contact cards, by Plaintiffs' estimation, include a notation like "name check clear," "NCC," or" N.C. Clear"-indicating that officers completed a name check during the stop. When on the street, officers perform a name check in one of two ways: (1) radioing a dispatcher at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications ("OEMC"); or (2) entering search criteria into a Portable Data Terminal ("PDT") located in the officer's vehicle. When an officer conducts a name check via a radio call, the officer reads to the dispatcher the individual's information. The dispatcher records that information and performs the inquiry on the officer's behalf through his own terminal at OEMC. The amount of time it takes to obtain the results of a name check from an OEMC dispatcher can vary if, for example, the dispatcher must first respond to higher priority radio traffic. To perform a name check from a police car, the officer types the individual's first and last name into a name inquiry screen on the PDT. When an officer searches in this manner, the results come back seconds later.

In their deposition testimony, several officers testified that they generally would conduct a name check during an investigatory stop, and that it was up to their discretion whether to do so. They testified that they typically asked for citizens' identification cards during street encounters and that people usually waited for the officers to return their ID cards before leaving. They also attested that preventing the subject of a stop from running away motivated their practice of holding onto the ID. Officer Carol Burns, for example, explained that she would "typically hold onto the person's ID until after [she had] received the call back that the person is clear" to "make sure that they don't walk or run away." Officer Burns also stated that, when conducting a name check, she would "say something like, I'm just going to run your name; if it's clear, you're free to go."

Until November 2018, Chicago's Aggressive Panhandling Ordinance-City Ordinance 8-4-025, MCC § 8-4-025-prohibited certain behaviors while panhandling. The ordinance made it unlawful for a panhandler to solicit a person at specified locations, such as within ten feet of a bus stop, on a public bus, in a restaurant, in a gas station, or within ten feet of an automatic teller machine. The ordinance also prohibited touching a solicited person without his consent, blocking the path of a person entering a building or vehicle, following a solicited person, or panhandling in a group of two or more persons.

Plaintiffs-John Hall, Bonita Franks, Kim Pindak, George Gardner, McArthur Hubbard, and Vernon Dennis-are residents of the City of Chicago who have each panhandled in the City. CPD officers stopped Plaintiffs numerous times and documented those stops with contact cards. From 2005 to 2015, Chicago police records show 65 contact cards for Gardner; 7 for Franks; 39 for Pindak; 33 for Dennis; 54 for Hubbard; and 53 for Hall. These contact cards reflect that, in many of the stops, the officers performed name checks. Plaintiffs did not have a recollection of the specific details of these stops and varied when describing their duration and to what extent name checks...

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