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Ruling Upheld Against Jail's Strip Search Policy

April 22, 2006|From Associated Press

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that the body-cavity check of a woman booked into the Ventura County Jail on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance was unconstitutional.

The 9th Circuit agreed Thursday that the check violated Noelle Way's rights against illegal search and seizure because there was no reasonable suspicion that she had concealed drugs.

Way was strip searched, in accordance with jail security policy, after being arrested in September 2000 on suspicion of the misdemeanor drug charge.

Way sued the county after she tested negative for drugs and was never charged.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled in 2002 that the jail's "blanket strip search" policy violated Way's 4th Amendment rights.

The county appealed, arguing that the policy was based on the state penal code. Lawyers representing the county also said jail security outweighed Way's right to avoid the search.

Way's attorney, Earnest Bell, said he plans to negotiate a monetary settlement for his client and others who were strip searched if the county makes no further appeals.

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