Hudson v. Palmer Palmer v. Hudson, Nos. 82-1630

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBURGER
PartiesTed S. HUDSON, Petitioner v. Russell Thomas PALMER, Jr. Russell Thomas PALMER, Jr., Petitioner v. Ted S. HUDSON
Decision Date03 July 1984
Docket Number82-6695,Nos. 82-1630

468 U.S. 517
104 S.Ct. 3194
82 L.Ed.2d 393
Ted S. HUDSON, Petitioner

v.

Russell Thomas PALMER, Jr. Russell Thomas PALMER, Jr., Petitioner v. Ted S. HUDSON.

Nos. 82-1630, 82-6695.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued Dec. 7, 1983.
Decided July 3, 1984.
Syllabus

Respondent, an inmate at a Virginia penal institution, filed an action in Federal District Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against petitioner, an officer at the institution, alleging that petitioner had conducted an unreasonable "shakedown" search of respondent's prison locker and cell and had brought a false charge, under prison disciplinary procedures, of destroying state property against respondent solely to harass him; and that, in violation of respondent's Fourteenth Amendment right not to be deprived of property without due process of law, petitioner had intentionally destroyed certain of respondent's noncontraband personal property during the search. The District Court granted summary judgment for petitioner, and the Court of Appeals affirmed with regard to the District Court's holding that respondent was not deprived of his property without due process. The Court of Appeals concluded that the decision in Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420—holding that a negligent deprivation of a prison inmate's property by state officials does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if an adequate post-deprivation state remedy exists—should extend also to intentional deprivations of property. However, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded with regard to respondent's claim that the "shakedown" search was unreasonable. The court held that a prisoner has a "limited privacy right" in his cell entitling him to protection against searches conducted solely to harass or to humiliate, and that a remand was necessary to determine the purpose of the search here.

Held:

1. A prisoner has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his prison cell entitling him to the protection of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches. While prisoners enjoy many protections of the Constitution that are not fundamentally inconsistent with imprisonment itself or incompatible with the objectives of incarceration, imprisonment carries with it the circumscription or loss of many rights as being necessary to accommodate the institutional needs and objectives of prison facilities, particularly internal security and safety. It would be impossible

Page 518

to accomplish the prison objectives of preventing the introduction of weapons, drugs, and other contraband into the premises if inmates retained a right of privacy in their cells. The unpredictability that attends random searches of cells renders such searches perhaps the most effective weapon of the prison administrator in the fight against the proliferation of weapons, drugs, and other contraband. A requirement that random searches be conducted pursuant to an established plan would seriously undermine the effectiveness of this weapon. Pp. 3198-3202.

2. There is no merit to respondent's contention that the destruction of his personal property constituted an unreasonable seizure of that property violative of the Fourth Amendment. Assuming that the Fourth Amendment protects against the destruction of property, in addition to its mere seizure, the same reasons that lead to the conclusion that the Amendment's proscription against unreasonable searches is inapplicable in a prison cell, apply with controlling force to seizures. Prison officials must be free to seize from cells any articles which, in their view, disserve legitimate institutional interests. P. 528, n. 8.

3. Even if petitioner intentionally destroyed respondent's personal property during the challenged "shakedown" search, the destruction did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment since respondent had adequate postdeprivation remedies under Virginia law for any loss suffered. The decision in Parratt v. Taylor, supra, as to negligent deprivation by a state employee of a prisoner's property—as well as its rationale that when deprivations of property are effected through random and unauthorized conduct of a state employee, predeprivation procedures are "impracticable" since the state cannot know when such deprivations will occur—also applies to intentional deprivations of property. Both the District Court and, at least implicitly, the Court of Appeals held that several common-law remedies were available to respondent under Virginia law and would provide adequate compensation for his property loss, and there is no reason to question that determination. The fact that respondent might not be able to recover under state law remedies the full amount which he might receive in a § 1983 action is not determinative of the adequacy of the state remedies. As to respondent's contention that relief under state law was uncertain because a state employee might be entitled to sovereign immunity, the courts below held that respondent's claim would not be barred by sovereign immunity, since under Virginia law a state employee may be held liable for his intentional torts. Pp. 530-536.

697 F.2d 1220 (CA4 1983), affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Page 519

William G. Broaddus, Richmond, Va., for Ted S. Hudson.

Deborah C. Wyatt, Charlottesville, Va., for Russell Thomas Palmer, Jr.

Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari in No. 82-1630 to decide whether a prison inmate has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his prison cell entitling him to the protection of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures. We also granted certiorari in No. 82-6695, the cross-petition, to determine whether our decision in Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981), which held that a negligent deprivation of property by state officials does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment if an adequate postdeprivation state remedy exists, should extend to intentional deprivations of property.

I

The facts underlying this dispute are relatively simple. Respondent Palmer is an inmate at the Bland Correctional Center in Bland, Va., serving sentences for forgery, uttering, grand larceny, and bank robbery convictions. On September 16, 1981, petitioner Hudson, an officer at the Correctional Center, with a fellow officer, conducted a "shakedown" search of respondent's prison locker and cell for contraband. During the "shakedown," the officers discovered a ripped pillowcase in a trash can near respondent's cell bunk. Charges

Page 520

against Palmer were instituted under the prison disciplinary procedures for destroying state property. After a hearing, Palmer was found guilty on the charge and was ordered to reimburse the State for the cost of the material destroyed; in addition, a reprimand was entered on his prison record.

Palmer subsequently brought this pro se action in United States District Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Respondent claimed that Hudson had conducted the shakedown search of his cell and had brought a false charge against him solely to harass him, and that, in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right not to be deprived of property without due process of law, Hudson had intentionally destroyed certain of his noncontraband personal property during the September 16 search. Hudson denied each allegation; he moved for and was granted summary judgment. The District Court accepted respondent's allegations as true but held nonetheless, relying on Parratt v. Taylor, supra, that the alleged destruction of respondent's property, even if intentional, did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment because there were state tort remedies available to redress the deprivation, App. 31 1 and that the alleged harassment did not "rise to the level of a constitutional deprivation," id., at 32.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. 697 F.2d 1220 (CA4 1983). The court affirmed the District Court's holding that respondent was not deprived of his property without due process. The court acknowledged that we considered only a claim of negligent property deprivation in Parratt v. Taylor, supra. It agreed with the District Court, however, that the logic of Parratt applies equally to unauthorized intentional deprivations of property by state officials: "[O]nce it is as-

Page 521

sumed that a postdeprivation remedy can cure an unintentional but negligent act causing injury, inflicted by a state agent which is unamenable to prior review, then that principle applies as well to random and unauthorized intentional acts." 697 F.2d at 1223.2 The Court of Appeals did not discuss the availability and adequacy of existing state-law remedies; it presumably accepted as correct the District Court's statement of the remedies available under Virginia law.3

The Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment on respondent's claim that the shakedown search was unreasonable. The court recognized that Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 555-557, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1882-1883, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979), authorized irregular unannounced shakedown searches of prison cells. But the court held that an individual prisoner has a "limited privacy right" in his cell entitling him to protection against searches conducted solely to harass or to humiliate. 697 F.2d, at 1225.4 The shakedown of a single prisoner's property, said the court, is permissible

Page 522

only if "done pursuant to an established program of conducting random searches of single cells or groups of cells reasonably designed to deter or discover the possession of contraband" or upon reasonable belief that the particular prisoner possessed contraband. Id., at 1224. Because the Court of Appeals concluded that the record reflected a factual dispute over whether the search of respondent's cell was routine or conducted to harass respondent, it held that...

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10017 practice notes
  • Franklin v. District of Columbia, No. 97-7162
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 22, 1999
    ...and continual surveillance of inmates and their cells required to ensure institutional security and internal order." Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 527-28, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984). Besides, we cannot understand how a prisoner's telling another, bilingual prisoner about his sy......
  • Koch v. Ahlin, 1:18-cv-00546-LJO-GSA-PC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • December 19, 2019
    ...employee, whether intentional or negligent, if a meaningful state post-deprivation remedy for his loss is available. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984). California's tort claim process provides that adequate post-deprivation remedy. Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816-17 (9th C......
  • Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of the Cnty. of Burlington, No. 10–945.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 2, 2012
    ...of contraband depends in part on the ability to conduct 566 U.S. 328searches without predictable exceptions. In Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984), it addressed the question of whether prison officials could perform random searches of inmate lockers and ce......
  • Kelly v. Hill, Civil Action No.: ELH-20-2531
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • July 19, 2021
    ...that, as a convicted prisoner, Kelly has no federal constitutionally protected privacy interest in his prison cell. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 525-26 (1984) (prisoners have no subjective expectation of privacy in prison cell and Fourth Amendment proscription against unreasonable se......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10060 cases
  • Franklin v. District of Columbia, No. 97-7162
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 22, 1999
    ...and continual surveillance of inmates and their cells required to ensure institutional security and internal order." Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 527-28, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984). Besides, we cannot understand how a prisoner's telling another, bilingual prisoner about his sy......
  • Koch v. Ahlin, 1:18-cv-00546-LJO-GSA-PC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • December 19, 2019
    ...employee, whether intentional or negligent, if a meaningful state post-deprivation remedy for his loss is available. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984). California's tort claim process provides that adequate post-deprivation remedy. Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816-17 (9th C......
  • Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of the Cnty. of Burlington, No. 10–945.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 2, 2012
    ...of contraband depends in part on the ability to conduct 566 U.S. 328searches without predictable exceptions. In Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984), it addressed the question of whether prison officials could perform random searches of inmate lockers and ce......
  • Kelly v. Hill, Civil Action No.: ELH-20-2531
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • July 19, 2021
    ...that, as a convicted prisoner, Kelly has no federal constitutionally protected privacy interest in his prison cell. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 525-26 (1984) (prisoners have no subjective expectation of privacy in prison cell and Fourth Amendment proscription against unreasonable se......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • A REIGN OF ERROR: PROPERTY RIGHTS AND STARE DECISIS.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 99 Nbr. 2, October 2021
    • October 1, 2021
    ...'oxymoron.'" (quoting JOHN HART ELY, DEMOCRACY AND DISTRUST: A THEORY OF JUDICIAL REVIEW 18 (1980))). (29.) See, e.g., Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984) ("[A]n unauthorized intentional deprivation of property by a state employee does not constitute a violation of the procedural req......
  • Racial Desegregation in Prisons
    • United States
    • Prison Journal, The Nbr. 88-2, June 2008
    • June 1, 2008
    ...194 (E.D. Ark. 1973).Holt v. Sarver,442 F.2d 304 (8th Cir. 1971).Howard v. Collins, U.S. App. Lexis 32235 (8th Cir. 1997).Hudson v. Palmer,468 U.S. 517 (1984).Huling, T. (2002). Building a prison economy in rural America. In M. Mauer & M. Chesney-Lind(Eds.), Invisible punishment: The collat......

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