Search and Seizure: Long Island Woman's Strip Search Suit Can Move Forward

A federal appeals court ruled October 8 that a Long Island, New York, woman's rights were violated when police strip searched her in a room with a video camera after finding a marijuana stem in the vehicle she was driving. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the $1 million lawsuit filed three years ago by Stacey Hartline against the Village of Southampton and four of its police officers.

Hartline was driving a work vehicle owned by her construction company in 2001 when she was pulled over for lack of a rear license plate. After the arresting officer spotted a pot stem on the floorboard, he cuffed Hartline, then searched the vehicle, finding a roach and other small amounts of pot debris. Hartline was placed under arrest for marijuana possession, taken to the police station, and subjected to a strip search by a female officer in a room with a video camera while male officers allegedly watched on monitors.

Hartline was "crying hysterically" while she was forced to remove her lower garments and allow the officer to inspect her orifices, then lift up her bra and allow the officer to inspect her breasts, according to her account.

Hartline sued, alleging two violations of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. First, she argued, police had no probable cause to think she was hiding contraband, and second, the search was unconstitutional because the Village of Southampton had a policy of strip searching all female arrestees while it did not have such a policy for male arrestees.

Her civil suit was thrown out in 2006 by US District Judge Denis Hurley in Central Islip. Hurley held that police did have reason to believe she was hiding contraband and that no higher courts had dealt with such circumstances.

But in last week's opinion from the 2nd Circuit, the appeals court judges sharply disagreed with Hurley. It was irrelevant that no other court had ruled on the circumstances, the judges said, and whether police had "a reasonable suspicion that she was secreting contraband on her person" was a question to settled by a trial court, not Judge Hurley.

"Ultimately, if the facts of this case amount to reasonable suspicion, then strip-searches will become commonplace," the judges further wrote in a 15-page opinion. "Given the unique, intrusive nature of strip-searches, as well as the multitude of less invasive techniques available to officers confronted by misdemeanor offenders, that result would be unacceptable in any society that takes privacy and bodily integrity seriously."

Now, Hartline's case will go to trial. No trial date has yet been set.

Hartline told the Associated Press after the decision that she was relieved. "It's very hard to sit back and challenge a municipality," she said. "It's frightening. I've lived in this town my whole life. I love Southampton. The relief I feel is tremendous. I'm so pleased this won't happen to anyone else."

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!


Stacey--you keep up the good work--what they did to you was abuse of power and everybody should fight back exactly like you are doing!
Keep your chin up--I am proud of you


It's astonishing & angering what those cops did, & unacceptable when cops act like thugs. It is also despicable that hurley is still a judge, because he is incompetent.

I should have sued!

My wife and I were raided 3-1/2 years ago by our local swat team and major crimes unit. My wife had just stepped out of the bath tub to dry off when they blew the front door right off the house. They grabbed her stark naked and made her stand in the living handcuffed and wouldn't even hand her a towel to cover up! This went on for at least 20 min while the house swelled with over 30 male officers! Incidently, for all their efforts in destroying everything we owned they found a whooping $20 sack of meth! FUCK EM!!!

check out cop watch a great web site,.


Can everyone say POLICE STATE??? Everywhere you look, the signs are there. Since Americans refuse to speak out, we can expect the evolution of this country, from a nation looked to for HUMAN RIGHTS to a FACSIST POLICE STATE will continue. Start checking out What Really Happened. Com. It will show you what is going on across this country.

Stupid people with too much supposed authority.

Lawsuit? ha. let them do that to my wife, g/f, sister, whatever. I know what would happen. Nothing says "you gonna try that shit again?" like blowing their goddamn brains out.

Investigate 'Judge' Hurley

Persons as Hurley need to be investigated for their memberships in fraternal orders.

Such investigation of the judiciary and the government in general may lead to some illuminating patterns!

Douglas A. Willinger

Marijuana Stem?

Legalize all drugs. Crime stops ,pretty much. Many empty cells... fill em with predators raping and molesting kids and exchanging videos of this real crime on the internet.
LAw enforcement says : Don't do drugs, it will ruin your life....and if we catch you.... we will ruin it for you.

Ron Paul


RON PAUL 2012!!

Revisiting the Tim Masters Case, etc...

Sue the PISS out of 'em, Stacy! You've even gotta pay the lowliest 'ho to do the the things they did to you...

Drugs And The CIA

The reason the drug war hasn't worked and never will work is because the CIA is working with the drug cartels. If anyone had any doubt about that, the plane that crashed in Mexico, not too long back, should have convinced them. It had the same serial numbers as one of the CIA rendition planes, that has been tracked over Europe. It had tons of cocaine on board. Those planes transporting victims to secret black sites, to be tortured, raped and murdered by our lovely CIA. Those that are lucky enough to survive will be mental cases, for the rest of their lives. If that's lucky. The same CIA that murdered President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Why aren't the police officers named?

The victim is named, but none of the officers and others involved. They, and the judge, need to be investigated and targeted.

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