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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ind. Decisions - One from 7th Circuit today

In Campbell v. Miller (SD Ind., Judge Barker), a 16-page opinion, Judge Wood writes:

James Campbell was arrested in the front yard of his friend’s house by Officer Frank Miller, an Indianapolis police officer who suspected that Campbell possessed marijuana. Miller and another officer each conducted an initial patdown search, which did not reveal any sign of weapons or contraband on Campbell. They decided, however, pursuant to an Indianapolis policy that instructs officers to conduct “immediate and thorough body search[es]” of those under arrest, to take Campbell into the open backyard of his friend’s house and subject him to a strip search involving a visual inspection of Campbell’s anal cavity. The backyard area was in plain sight of those inside both Campbell’s friend’s house and some of the neighbors’ houses; indeed, Campbell’s friend watched the search take place from his kitchen window. After the search, Campbell was issued a citation and released.

Campbell sued Officer Miller, other Indianapolis police officers involved in the arrest, and the City of Indianapolis (“the City”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that the search and the City’s policy that authorized it were unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. (He also raised various state law claims not relevant to this appeal.) The case was tried by a jury, which found for the defendants. Campbell appeals, arguing that no reasonable jury could have concluded that this was a reasonable search. He also challenges the instructions to the jury, as well as the district court’s decision to exclude the testimony of three of his potential witnesses. We agree with Campbell in part. While there was evidence to support the jury’s conclusion that Officer Miller had reasonable suspicion to conduct the search, we conclude that no reasonable jury could find that a strip search conducted in public for no identifiable reason conformed with the Fourth Amendment. We therefore reverse the judgment in favor of Officer Miller and remand for entry of judgment in Campbell’s favor on his Rule 50(b) motion. This will necessitate further proceedings on the appropriate remedy. We affirm the judgment for the City, because what was objectionable about the search—that is, its public nature—was not caused by the City’s policy or practice, and there was nothing in the court’s evidentiary rulings that require us to set aside that part of the verdict. * * *

We AFFIRM the judgment in favor of the City, REVERSE the judgment in favor of Officer Miller and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 28, 2007 02:01 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions