Strip search case taken up by federal appeals court

    A federal appeals court is considering whether or not those taken into custody for a minor offense should be subject to a strip search.

    A federal appeals court is considering whether or not those taken into custody for a minor offense should be subject to a strip search. The case stems from a class action suit filed against two county jails in New Jersey.

    Albert Florence was arrested in 2005 in Burlington County for failing to pay a traffic ticket. Turns out he did pay the ticket, but he was strip searched at the time of booking.

    A lower court ruled in his favor. But both Burlington and Essex counties are challenging the decision. An attorney for Burlington County argued that everyone who comes in gets strip searched for their own protection. Lawyer Brooks DiDonato cited one case where an obese man smuggled in a gun and ammunition hidden in his rolls of fat.

    But Susan Lask, the attorney for the plaintiffs says those brought in for a summary offense should not be strip searched without reasonable suspicion that they may be hiding contraband.

    “When I drive my car and I have my tail light out, I don’t expect to go to jail and get strip searched for that,” says Lask. “I expect to pay a fine.”

    Five former New Jersey Attorneys General have filed amicus briefs in support of Albert Florence. The court could rule to uphold, overturn, or send the case back to the lower court.

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