Johnson v. Phelan, No. 93-3753

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore POSNER, Chief Judge, and PELL and EASTERBROOK; EASTERBROOK; POSNER
Citation69 F.3d 144
Parties69 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 119, 64 USLW 2297 Albert JOHNSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Richard J. PHELAN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 93-3753
Decision Date29 January 1996

Page 144

69 F.3d 144
69 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 119, 64 USLW 2297
Albert JOHNSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Richard J. PHELAN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 93-3753.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued Aug. 1, 1995.
Decided Oct. 24, 1995.
Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc Denied Jan.
29, 1996. *

Page 145

James C. Schroeder, David J. Franklyn (argued), Mayer, Brown & Platt, Chicago, IL, for Albert Johnson.

Michael David Jacobs (argued), Office of the State's Attorney of Cook County, Terry L. McDonald, Asst. State's Atty., Office of the State's Attorney of Cook County Federal Litigation Division, Chicago, IL, for Richard J. Phelan, Thomas J. Charnogorsky, Michael F. Sheahan, James W. Fairman, Jr., Raul Estrada.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and PELL and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges.

EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge.

Albert Johnson brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. According to his complaint, which the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted, female guards at the Cook County Jail are assigned to monitor male prisoners' movements and can see men naked in their cells, the shower, and the toilet. Johnson sought damages from persons including the President of the Cook County Board and the Chairman of the County's Buildings and Zoning Commission. Most of the defendants have no relation to the events of which Johnson complains and were properly dismissed because Sec. 1983 does not establish vicarious liability. See Houston v. Sheahan, 62 F.3d 902 (7th Cir.1995). The district court also properly rejected Johnson's argument that different monitoring patterns in different cellblocks within the Jail violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. 1993 U.S.Dist. (N.D.Ill.). Johnson has abandoned on appeal any contention that monitoring in the local courthouse lockup's bathroom violates the Constitution. But his argument that cross-sex monitoring in the Jail violates the due process clause requires additional discussion in light of Canedy v. Boardman, 16 F.3d 183 (7th Cir.1994), which holds that a right of privacy limits the ability of wardens to subject men to body searches by women, or the reverse. Our case involves visual rather than tactile inspections, and we must decide whether male prisoners are entitled to prevent female guards from watching them while undressed.

Observation is a form of search, and the initial question therefore is whether monitoring is "unreasonable" under the fourth amendment. So the Supreme Court conceived the issue in Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979), where a pretrial detainee argued that routine inspections of his body cavities violated the Constitution. (Johnson also was a pretrial detainee at the time of the events covered in his complaint, but in light of Wolfish he does not argue that detainees have rights exceeding those of prisoners following conviction.) The Court held that these searches are "reasonable" because they are prudent precautions against smuggling drugs and other contraband into prison. 441 U.S. at 558-60, 99 S.Ct. at 1884-85. Prisoners argued that metal detectors plus supervision of inmates' contacts with outsiders would be superior to body-cavity inspections. The Court replied that prisons need not adopt the best alternatives. 441 U.S. at 559-60 n. 40, 99 S.Ct. at 1884-85 n. 40. Less-restrictive-alternative arguments are too powerful: a prison always can do something, at some cost, to make prisons more habitable, but if courts assess and compare these costs and benefits then judges rather than wardens are the real prison administrators. Wolfish emphasized what is the animating theme of the Court's prison jurisprudence for the last 20 years: the requirement that judges respect hard choices made by prison administrators. E.g., Sandin v. Conner, --- U.S. ----, ---- - ----, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 2299-2300, 132 L.Ed.2d 418 (1995); O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 349-50, 107 S.Ct. 2400, 2404-05, 96 L.Ed.2d 282 (1987); Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119,

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125, 97 S.Ct. 2532, 2537-38, 53 L.Ed.2d 629 (1977); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 561-63, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2977-78, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974).

Wolfish assumed without deciding that prisoners retain some right of privacy under the fourth amendment. Five years later the Court held that they do not. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-30, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 3200-02, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984), observes that privacy is the thing most surely extinguished by a judgment committing someone to prison. Guards take control of where and how prisoners live; they do not retain any right of seclusion or secrecy against their captors, who are entitled to watch and regulate every detail of daily life. After Wolfish and Hudson monitoring of naked prisoners is not only permissible--wardens are entitled to take precautions against drugs and weapons (which can be passed through the alimentary canal or hidden in the rectal cavity and collected from a toilet bowl)--but also sometimes mandatory. Inter-prisoner violence is endemic, so constant vigilance without regard to the state of the prisoners' dress is essential. Vigilance over showers, vigilance over cells--vigilance everywhere, which means that guards gaze upon naked inmates.

Johnson mentions the fourth amendment but ignores Wolfish and Hudson. His principal argument uses the due process clause; and because he does not seek a hearing, he is invoking principles of substantive due process. Yet courts should not reverse the outcome of a fourth amendment analysis in the name of substantive due process. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989), and Albright v. Oliver, --- U.S. ----, 114 S.Ct. 807, 127 L.Ed.2d 114 (1994), hold that substantive due process is not an appropriate substitute for analysis under provisions of the Constitution that address a subject directly, and in particular does not trump the fourth amendment. "Privacy" has too many other connotations--from the right of reproductive autonomy that has nothing to do with searches and seizures to the common law right to control the publication of certain facts about oneself, including the depiction of one's naked body, see Haynes v. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 8 F.3d 1222, 1229-30 (7th Cir.1993)--to be a useful substitute for the fourth amendment (or, as we discuss below, the eighth).

What is more, moving ground from the fourth amendment to the fifth would not help Johnson. Under the due process clause the question is whether the regulation is "reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 2261-62, 96 L.Ed.2d 64 (1987). Surveillance of prisoners is essential, as Wolfish establishes. Observation of cells, showers, and toilets is less intrusive than the body-cavity inspections Wolfish held permissible. Guards do the surveillance. Male guards and female guards too--for Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 opens prisons to women and requires states to hire them unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification, a high standard of necessity. Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321, 97 S.Ct. 2720, 53 L.Ed.2d 786 (1977); United States v. Gregory, 818 F.2d 1114 (4th Cir.1987) (rejecting an argument that a desire to curtail cross-sex monitoring of naked prisoners makes sex a bona fide occupation qualification for prison guards); see also United Auto Workers v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 499 U.S. 187, 111 S.Ct. 1196, 113 L.Ed.2d 158 (1991). Unless female guards are shuffled off to back office jobs, itself problematic under Title VII, they are bound to see the male prisoners in states of undress. Frequently. Deliberately. Otherwise they are not doing their jobs. Smith v. Fairman, 678 F.2d 52 (7th Cir.1982), puts two and two together, holding that in light of Title VII female guards are entitled to participate in the normal activities of guarding, including pat-down searches of male inmates. We held in Torres v. Wisconsin Department of Health & Social Services, 859 F.2d 1523 (7th Cir.1988) (en banc), a case filed by guards under Title VII, that a state could exclude men from one of its four prisons, in order to promote the female prisoners' rehabilitation. Torres did not say that the Constitution requires this exclusion; instead we deferred to the judgment of prison administrators that they needed to limit cross-sex monitoring to achieve penological objectives. Today deference leads to the opposite result: Cook County does not believe that cross-sex monitoring imperils its

Page 147

mission, and evenhanded willingness to accept prison administrators' decisions about debatable issues means that Johnson cannot prevail under the due process clause.

After holding in Hudson that prisoners lack any reasonable expectation of privacy under the fourth amendment, the Court remarked that a prisoner could use the eighth amendment to overcome "calculated harassment unrelated to prison needs." 468 U.S. at 530, 104 S.Ct. at 3202. Similarly, the Court observed in Graham that the eighth amendment offers some protection supplementary to the fourth. 490 U.S. at 392, 394, 109 S.Ct. at 1869, 1870. We therefore think it best to understand the references to "privacy" in Canedy and similar cases as invocations of the eighth amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments. See Jordan v. Gardner, 986 F.2d 1521 (9th Cir.1993) (en banc), which makes explicit the role of that provision.

Johnson's complaint (and the brief filed on his behalf in this court by a top-notch law firm) do not allege either particular susceptibility or any design to inflict psychological injury. A prisoner could say that he is especially shy--perhaps required by his religion to remain dressed in the presence of the opposite sex--and that the guards, knowing this, tormented him by assigning women to watch the toilets and...

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219 practice notes
  • Warren v. Gusman, CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-15046 SECTION "G" (2)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • March 9, 2017
    ...v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 745-46 (5th Cir. 2002)) (citing Mitchell v. Quarterman, 515 F. App'x 244, 247 (5th Cir. 2012); Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 147 (7th Cir. 1995); Timm v. Gunter, 917Page 19 F.2d 1093, 1101-02 (8th Cir. 1990); Michenfelder v. Sumner, 860 F.2d 328, 334 (9th Cir. 1988......
  • King v. McCarty, No. 13–1769.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 27, 2015
    ...Fourth Amendment. But the court dismissed King's parallel claim under the Eighth Amendment, relying on our decision in Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144 (7th Cir.1995). Johnson held that female guards' routine monitoring of naked male inmates in a jail's showers, toilets, and cells did not inv......
  • Skundor v. Coleman, Civil Action No. 5:02-0205 (S.D. W.Va. 7/31/2003), Civil Action No. 5:02-0205.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • July 31, 2003
    ...performed by or in front of members of the opposite sex do not necessarily violate the Fourth or the Eighth Amendment. Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 146-51 (7th Cir. 1995) ("Unless female guards are shuffled off to back office jobs, itself problematic under Title VII, they are bound ......
  • United States v. Baroni, No. 17-1817
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • November 27, 2018
    ...to do it."). This fundamental "distinction between motive and intent runs all through the law." Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 155 (7th Cir.1995) (Posner, C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). 804 F.3d 277, 297 (3d Cir. 2015).The District Judge properly instructe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
217 cases
  • Warren v. Gusman, CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-15046 SECTION "G" (2)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • March 9, 2017
    ...v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 745-46 (5th Cir. 2002)) (citing Mitchell v. Quarterman, 515 F. App'x 244, 247 (5th Cir. 2012); Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 147 (7th Cir. 1995); Timm v. Gunter, 917Page 19 F.2d 1093, 1101-02 (8th Cir. 1990); Michenfelder v. Sumner, 860 F.2d 328, 334 (9th Cir. 1988......
  • King v. McCarty, No. 13–1769.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 27, 2015
    ...Fourth Amendment. But the court dismissed King's parallel claim under the Eighth Amendment, relying on our decision in Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144 (7th Cir.1995). Johnson held that female guards' routine monitoring of naked male inmates in a jail's showers, toilets, and cells did not inv......
  • Skundor v. Coleman, Civil Action No. 5:02-0205 (S.D. W.Va. 7/31/2003), Civil Action No. 5:02-0205.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • July 31, 2003
    ...performed by or in front of members of the opposite sex do not necessarily violate the Fourth or the Eighth Amendment. Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 146-51 (7th Cir. 1995) ("Unless female guards are shuffled off to back office jobs, itself problematic under Title VII, they are bound to se......
  • United States v. Baroni, No. 17-1817
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • November 27, 2018
    ...or determination to do it."). This fundamental "distinction between motive and intent runs all through the law." Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 155 (7th Cir.1995) (Posner, C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). 804 F.3d 277, 297 (3d Cir. 2015).The District Judge properly instruc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Weekly Case Digests October 5, 2020 October 9, 2020.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Law Journal Nbr. 2020, January 2020
    • October 9, 2020
    ...prior decisions foreclosed Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim. The district court agreed, concluding that, under Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144 (7th Cir. 1995), and King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889 (7th Cir. 2015) (per curiam), convicted prisoners do not maintain a privacy interest during visu......
  • Prisoner 4th Amendment Violation.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Law Journal Nbr. 2020, January 2020
    • October 5, 2020
    ...prior decisions foreclosed Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim. The district court agreed, concluding that, under Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144 (7th Cir. 1995), and King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889 (7th Cir. 2015) (per curiam), convicted prisoners do not maintain a privacy interest during visu......

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