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Calvin v. Sheriff of Will County

April 14, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall


Defendants Will County and the Sheriff of Will County (collectively "Defendants") request that this Court amend the December 16, 2005 Memorandum Opinion and Order*fn1 to certify the order for interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1292(b). Because the issues raised in this appeal meet the requirements for certification, the motion to amend the order is granted.


Plaintiffs Javar Calvin, William Virble Moore, and Charles Davis (collectively "Plaintiffs") brought a class action suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Will County, Illinois and the Will County Sheriff, alleging that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights by conducting strip searches in a Will County detention facility. Specifically, Plaintiffs challenged Will County "Policy No. 5080," created by the County in response to Illinois statute 725 ILCS 5/103-1(c), which provides in relevant part:

(c) No person arrested for a traffic, regulatory or misdemeanor offense, except in such cases involving weapons or a controlled substance, shall be strip searched unless there is reasonable belief that the individual is concealing a weapon or controlled substance. 725 ILCS 5/103-1(c). However, the statute later states that the provision of section (c) "shall not apply when the person is taken into custody by or remanded to the sheriff or correctional institution pursuant to a court order." 725 ILCS 5/103-1(j).

The Court*fn2 certified two subclasses in the action: the "Post-Arrest Strip Search" subclass and the "Post-Release Strip Search" subclass. See December 16, 2005Memorandum Opinion and Order at2 (hereafter "Memorandum Opinion"). Both classes contain persons detained on misdemeanor or traffic offenses that did not involve weapons or controlled substances. Both classes contain persons who were detained after a failure-to-appear warrant ("FTA Warrant") had been issued against them, and after they had been given a reasonable time to post bond and were unable or unwilling to do so. After providing notice to the classes and commencing discovery, Plaintiffs moved the Court to bifurcate discovery on the issues of liability and damages. See Docket No. 39. The Court granted the motion, and Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment solely on the issue of liability. See Docket No. 49.

Defendants opposed summary judgment on liability and argued that material facts existed meriting trial or, in the alternative, that Defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Court determined in its Memorandum Opinion that there were no genuine issues of material fact, because Will County followed Policy No. 5080, and a Will County officer testified to the manner of the searches and that the County conducted the strip searches on the members of the Plaintiff class without reasonable suspicion that they carried weapons or contraband. Memorandum Opinion at 7. The Court concluded that the dispute could be resolved as a matter of law on the "reasonableness" of the search in light of the undisputed facts and the justifications for the policy. The Court held as a matter of law that the Will County policy and practice violated the Fourth Amendment and granted summary judgment on liability in favor of Plaintiffs.

Within one month of the issuance of the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order, Defendants filed their motion to amend the order to certify for interlocutory appeal the question of Defendant's liability under 42 U.S.C. §1983. See Defendants' Motion to Amend the Memorandum Opinion and Order Dated December 16, 2005 to Include Certification for Interlocutory Appeal at 4 (hereafter "Def. Mot. Amend"). Defendants believe there are two "central issues" in this case warranting appeal:

The first is whether conducting strip searches of all individuals who were arrested under [Failure to Appear, or "FTA"] warrants in misdemeanor and traffic cases, only after they have been unable or unwilling to post bond and thus are required to be housed with other inmates violates a person's Fourth Amendment constitutional rights.

The second issue is whether conducting strip searches of all individuals who had been held at the facility, taken to court for a hearing, placed in contact situations with third-parties outside of the County's control, ordered released by a judge, and then returned to the Facility for an [sic] processing of their release violates a person's Fourth Amendment constitutional rights.

Def. Mot. Amend at 4. The parties have not yet conducted discovery on the issue of damages.

Legal Standard

A district court order not otherwise appealable may be reviewed by the Court of Appeals in those cases where there exists 'a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and [where] an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation." 28 U.S.C. ยง1292(b). The district court may certify an order for interlocutory appeal at its discretion, if a request for review of this kind has been brought within a reasonable time ...

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