Case: Musso v. County of Los Angeles

01-249462 | California state trial court

Filed Date: Jan. 18, 2001

Closed Date: 2003

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

The case arose from the August 15, 2000 misdemeanor arrests of 71 bicyclists engaged in a protest at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The cyclists were charged with reckless driving and were turned over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for processing at the Los Angeles Inmate Reception Center. Prior to their detention, the male arrestees were subjected to pat-down searches and removal of personal property, while the females were subjected to pre-arraignment strip searche…

The case arose from the August 15, 2000 misdemeanor arrests of 71 bicyclists engaged in a protest at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The cyclists were charged with reckless driving and were turned over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for processing at the Los Angeles Inmate Reception Center. Prior to their detention, the male arrestees were subjected to pat-down searches and removal of personal property, while the females were subjected to pre-arraignment strip searches and visual body cavity examinations by female officers. The female arrestees were also subjected to a second strip search the following day, after a court had already ordered that they be released from custody. Both the men and women claimed that they were held at least twelve hours after all charges against them had been dismissed.

On April 27, 2001, six plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a class consisting of the 71 bicycle protestors who were subjected to the "mass arrest" of August 15, 2000. The female plaintiffs alleged that they were illegally strip-searched and both the male and female plaintiffs complained that they were improperly arrested, improperly detained after the court ordered their release, and subjected to inadequate conditions of confinement.

At the time of this incident, it was the practice of guards at some LA facilities to conduct strip searches and visual body cavity inspections of all arrestees before introducing them into the general jail population. That policy had been challenged more generally in Williams v. County of Los Angeles (see JC-CA-0033 of this database). The judge in the Musso case tried to transfer it to the Williams court on grounds that it was a related case. However, because Williams had an appeal pending at the time of the attempted transfer, the Williams judge sent the Musso case back. Williams eventually settled in mid-2001 when the LASD acknowledged that the blanket strip search policy was illegal and in violation of California Penal Code Section 4030(f), which provided that misdemeanor and infraction arrestees may not be strip searched prior to arraignment unless (1) they are charged with an offense involving weapons, drugs, or violence or (2) there is reasonable suspicion that they are concealing a weapon or contraband. Williams settled for $27 million dollars (eventually shared among 40,000 claimants), but the Musso plaintiffs were expressly excluded from that settlement.

After two years of litigation, the Musso case was settled for $2.75 million. According to press accounts, each female plaintiff received $70,000 and each male plaintiff received $5000.

For more information on the ongoing reform of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department during this period, see PN-CA-0001 of this collection, which describes those efforts. In particular, the 19th semi-annual report of Special Counsel Merrick Bobb, available there, comments on the Musso case and changes to the LASD's strip search policies.

Summary Authors

Dan Dalton (7/3/2007)

Related Cases

Williams v. County of Los Angeles, Central District of California (1997)

L.A. County Sheriff's Department (Kolts Report and Implementation), No Court (1992)

People


Judge(s)

Johnson, Jeffrey W. (California)

Pfaelzer, Mariana R. (California)

Real, Manuel Lawrence (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Midgley, Timothy J. (California)

Watson, Carol A. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Allen, Michael D. (California)

Delgadillo, Rockard (California)

Geuss, Gary G. (California)

Hahn, James K. (California)

Korn, Jeffrey W. (California)

Judge(s)

Johnson, Jeffrey W. (California)

Pfaelzer, Mariana R. (California)

Real, Manuel Lawrence (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Midgley, Timothy J. (California)

Watson, Carol A. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Allen, Michael D. (California)

Delgadillo, Rockard (California)

Geuss, Gary G. (California)

Hahn, James K. (California)

Korn, Jeffrey W. (California)

Lee, Cindy S. (California)

Marr, Cecil W. (California)

Paquette, Paul N. (California)

Sohn, Yong Woo (California)

Vincent, Don (California)

Other Attorney(s)

Lawrence, David D. (California)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Bobb, Merrick J. (California)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket (Federal case) [PACER]

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

April 10, 2001 Docket

[Partial] Docket (State Court)

Sept. 19, 2003 Docket
4

Order Re: Transfer

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

March 7, 2001 Order/Opinion
5

Notice of Dismissal

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

April 11, 2001 Notice Letter

First Amended Complaint for Damages and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Dec. 4, 2001 Complaint

Notice of Ruling

Dec. 27, 2001 Notice Letter

Minutes of the Board of Supervisors, County of Los Angeles, State of California

No Court

March 25, 2003 Transcript

Answer of Defendants

Sept. 19, 2003 Pleading / Motion / Brief

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: 19th Semiannual Report by Special Counsel Merrick J. Bobb & Staff

In re: LA County Sheriff's Dept. (LASD)

No Court

Feb. 1, 2005 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Resources

Title Description External URL

Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants

Margo Schlanger

This article looks at jail strip-search litigation and its participants, to analyze its internal dynamics. Among the interesting features of these cases is that many different kinds of lawyers work … April 1, 2008 https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1466&context=lcp

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT filed Summons(es) issued referred to Discovery Jeffrey W. Johnson (jag) (Entered: 01/22/2001)

Jan. 18, 2001
2

NOTICE OF INTERESTED PARTIES filed by plaintiffs (jag) (Entered: 01/22/2001)

Jan. 18, 2001
3

NOTICE by plaintiff of related case(s) CV 98-9683 MRP (CWx) (rn) (Entered: 03/01/2001)

Jan. 18, 2001
4

ORDER RE TRANSFER PURSUANT TO GENERAL ORDER 224 (Related Case) filed. [ Related Case no.: CV 98-9683 MRP (CWx)] Transfer of case declined for the reasons set forth on order by Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer . (cc: all counsel) (rn) (Entered: 03/07/2001)

March 7, 2001
5

NOTICE OF DISMISSAL OF CASE by plaintiff Juliet Musso, plaintiff Susanne Blossom, plaintiff Ron Milam, plaintiff Derek Iverson, plaintiff Christopher Weare, plaintiff Melissa Boyd pursuant to FRCP 41a(1) Ent : 4/11/01, MD JS-6 (twdb) (Entered: 04/11/2001)

April 10, 2001

State / Territory: California

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Strip Search Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 18, 2001

Closing Date: 2003

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

23 female arrestees who were part of a group of bicyclists engaged in a protest at the 2000 Democratic National Convention that were arrested for misdemeanor violations and were then subjected to pre-arraignment strip searches and visual body cavity exams

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

LA County Sheriff's Dept. (Los Angeles), County

Twin Towers Correctional Facility (TTCF). (Lassen), County

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Voluntary Dismissal

Issues

General:

Search policies

Strip search policy

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run