of detaining all arrestees without a judicial determination of probable cause (1) until the arrestee's prints have cleared, and (2) in felony cases, until an Assistant State's Attorney has approved the charges. (See amended complaint, Count I, para. 12-16.) Count II is identical but is purportedly brought on behalf of a class. Plaintiff has sought class certification but it has not been granted.
Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) on April 13, 1988. In its motion, the plaintiff contends that the length of its confinement (approximately 24 hours) was unreasonable for two reasons. First, the plaintiff claims that the fingerprint clearing process is not a necessary administrative step, and thus, any delay due to this process was unreasonable and excessive. Second, the plaintiff complains that since review of his charges through the felony review process was not sought until 17 hours after plaintiff's arrest, the City detained plaintiff for more than a "brief period" necessary to perform "administrative steps incident to arrest." The City, in response, has filed a cross-motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b) because (1) plaintiff has suffered no actual damages, and (2) bringing a person arrested for a violent felony before a judge within 16 1/2 hours for a probable cause hearing is reasonable.
In Gerstein v. Pugh, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment permits the delay of a probable cause hearing for a "brief period" in order to take "administrative steps incident to arrest." 420 U.S. 103, 114, 43 L. Ed. 2d 54, 95 S. Ct. 854 (1975). The plaintiff first argues that the process of fingerprint clearance does not constitute an "administrative step incident to arrest." Therefore, according to the plaintiff, the delay in bringing the Gerstein probable cause hearing was excessive and in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The defendant argues that detention of felony arrestees during fingerprint clearance is a necessary administrative step because it 1) establishes the positive identification of the arrestee; 2) determines the proper level of the charge; 3) ascertains the presence of any outstanding warrants or stop orders; and 4) aids in evaluating the proper amount of bond and other conditions of pretrial release.
In response, plaintiff contends that without a judicial determination of probable cause, no charge will exist to upgrade and no bond will be necessary. The plaintiff further maintains that even if an arrestee is not present when his fingerprints clear because no probable cause existed for arrest, the police may still positively identify the arrestee and record this arrest along with any prior arrests on the proper rap sheet. Finally, the plaintiff argues that the clearance policy violates the Fourth Amendment because it allows the police to detain the arrestee while they investigate the arrestee's prior record without having reasonable suspicion that any outstanding warrant or stop order exists. In support of this proposition, plaintiff relies on Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721, 22 L. Ed. 2d 676, 89 S. Ct. 1394 (1969), United States v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221, 83 L. Ed. 2d 604, 105 S. Ct. 675 (1985), and Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811, 84 L. Ed. 2d 705, 105 S. Ct. 1643 (1985). Nevertheless, this court finds these cases inapposite because in each case the accused was arrested without probable cause, unlike Brown who was arrested based on probable cause.
Although plaintiff's response has some merit, the court is not convinced that the fingerprint clearance policy is not a necessary administrative step and that it causes unwarranted and excessive periods of detention. The court must strike a delicate balance between the interests of the state in its duty to protect society and the interests of the individual in his freedom of movement. In considering all the factors on both sides, the court is particularly influenced by the fact that Chicago has a high crime rate. In addition, the plaintiff is a felony, as opposed to a misdemeanor, arrestee. This court believes that a felony arrestee has an increased chance of having additional warrants out for his arrest. We hold that in the case of a felony arrestee, the positive identity and prior record of the arrestee are legitimate police concerns. Thus, the fingerprint clearance process is justifiable.
In further support of this conclusion, we rely on this court's opinion in Doulin v. City of Chicago, 662 F. Supp. 318 (N.D. Ill. 1986). The Doulin Court addressed the issue of whether the fingerprint clearance process was constitutional under Gerstein as applied to misdemeanor arrestees. The defendant set forth the very same arguments presented here, and the court found that the fingerprint clearance policy was not a necessary administrative step in the case of misdemeanor arrestees. However, in choosing to limit its holding purely to misdemeanor arrestees, the court held:
In fact there is a distinction between felony and misdemeanor offenses which the Supreme Court has recognized in Fourth Amendment cases:
Particularly in the context of felonies or crimes involving a threat to public safety, it is in the public interest that the crime be solved and the suspect detained as promptly as possible. The law enforcement interests at stake in these circumstances outweigh the individual's interest to be free of a stop and detention that is no more extensive than permissible in the investigation of imminent or ongoing crimes.