provided for a blanket strip search policy and which was in force at the time of the 1984 search in Davis, was amended in December 1985 to prohibit body cavity searches conducted on less than probable cause, and to require that an arrestee be given a reasonable opportunity to post bail before he or she is subjected to a strip search.
Under these circumstances, the court finds that the law prohibiting blanket strip/body cavity searches such as the ones conducted in this case was clearly established in December 1985 and May 1986 when those searches took place. As the Court noted in Harlow, "a reasonably competent public official should know the law governing his conduct." 457 U.S. at 819. Thus, it is held that the individual defendants named in this action are liable for the illegal searches to which plaintiffs were subjected.
(B) Whether the Detention of Plaintiffs Violated Their Rights Under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments ?
The parties do not dispute that it is "the custom and policy of the Woodbury Heights Police Department to detain individuals who are dangerous to themselves or to others for a period not to exceed twenty-four hours at the Gloucester County Jail." See Defendants' Brief at p. 4. Defendants contend that this policy is carried out pursuant to Rule 3:4-1 of the New Jersey Rules Governing Criminal Practice, which sets out the procedure to be followed subsequent to an arrest.
Plaintiffs argue that the detention policy both on its face and as applied violates the terms of Rule 3:4-1 and the plaintiffs' rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to be secure from unreasonable seizures.
Under Rule 3:4-1, when a person is arrested for a minor offense, the officer in charge of the police station to which the arrestee is taken shall, after completing the required post-arrest administrative procedures, issue a complaint-summons to the arrestee and "release that person in lieu of continued detention." R.3:4-1(c). However, the officer in charge has discretion not to release the arrestee if that officer determines that any one of certain conditions enumerated in subsection (d) of the rule are present. In that case, the officer is required to bring the arrestee before the nearest available committing judge "without unnecessary delay," for a probable cause determination. Id. If the judge then finds that there is probable cause to believe that the arrestee committed the offense charged and that any one of the section(d) conditions is present, that person shall be detained pursuant to a complaint-warrant. Correspondingly, if no probable cause is found or the judge determines that none of the section(d) conditions exist, the arrestee shall be issued a complaint-summons and released.
It is clear from the plain language of this provision that the Borough's policy of detaining arrestees up to twenty-four hours upon a police officer's unreviewed determination that the person arrested poses a threat to himself, others or property violates Rule 3:4-1. Nonetheless, a violation of Rule 3:4-1 does not constitute a per se violation of a plaintiff's constitutional rights. As explained by the court in Talbert v. Kelly, 799 F.2d 62 (3d Cir. 1986), "if the procedure that a municipality chooses violates or is contrary to state law, but meets federal standards, we may not set it aside." Id. at 68. Furthermore, pursuant to this reasoning, an individual defendant's non-compliance with a state-mandated procedure does not in and of itself give rise to a claim cognizable under Section 1983.
The provision in question, R.3:4-1, does, however, incorporate the Fourth Amendment's requirement that a judicial determination of probable cause be had "as a prerequisite to extended restraint of liberty following arrest." Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 114, 43 L. Ed. 2d 54, 95 S. Ct. 854 (1975). Under Gerstein, a detention following a warrantless arrest and prior to a probable cause hearing before a magistrate is reasonable, within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, if it lasts only "for a brief period" necessary for the taking of "administrative steps incident to arrest." Id. at 114. As a result, once defendants decided to detain plaintiffs, they had a constitutional obligation to seek a judicial determination of probable cause forthwith. See Bernard v. City of Palo Alto, 699 F.2d 1023, 1025 (9th Cir. 1983) ("The arresting officer's determination of probable cause justifies only 'a brief period of detention to take the administrative steps incident to arrest.'. . . Detention beyond that period requires a determination of probable cause by a neutral magistrate."); Williams v. Ward, 671 F. Supp. 225, 227 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) ("Once an arrest is effected, the necessity for detaining the suspect beyond a brief period of detention to take the administrative steps incident to an arrest evaporates.").
What constitutes an unnecessarily long detention under Gerstein "must be determined on a case-by-case basis," according to the factual circumstances presented. Moore v. Marketplace Restaurant, Inc., 754 F.2d 1336, 1351 (7th Cir. 1985); see also Bernard, 699 F.2d at 1025; Sanders v. City of Houston, 543 F. Supp. 694, 701 (S.D. Texas 1982), aff'd, 741 F.2d 1379 (5th Cir. 1984). The record here does not contain sufficient undisputed facts to answer the question of whether plaintiffs were actually detained beyond a period reasonably required to take necessary administrative steps. In so stating, the court notes that detention of plaintiffs on the basis of a belief that they posed a threat to themselves, others or property is not a reasonable administrative step within the meaning of Gerstein. In fact, such extended detention pursuant to the exercise of unbridled discretion on the part of a law enforcement officer is precisely the type of harm that the Gerstein holding seeks to avoid. 420 U.S. at 116-119. Nevertheless, the record leaves unanswered several pertinent questions: i.e., precisely what administrative steps were taken regarding the plaintiffs' arrests; whether plaintiffs were detained longer than necessary to carry out such steps and to present plaintiffs to a magistrate for a probable cause determination; and whether a magistrate was available during plaintiffs' period of incarceration. Thus, the parties cross-motions for summary judgment on the issue of the constitutionality of plaintiffs' detention are denied.
(C) Whether Defendants Are Liable To Plaintiffs Under The Laws Of The State Of New Jersey For False Imprisonment ?
Plaintiffs move for summary judgment on those claims in their complaints alleging false arrest and false imprisonment. Defendants cross-move for judgment in their favor on two grounds -- (1) that the arrest and detention of plaintiffs was legal under New Jersey law; and (2) that even if an illegal imprisonment occurred, defendants are immune from liability for such an occurrence.
Preliminarily, the court notes that "false arrest and false imprisonment are not separate torts; they are different names for the same tort." Price v. Phillips, 90 N.J. Super. 480, 485, 218 A.2d 167 (App. Div. 1966). See also Roth v. Golden Nugget Casino/Hotel, Inc., 576 F. Supp. 262, 265 (1983). Consequently, plaintiffs' claims are more accurately characterized as alleging two instances of false imprisonment, those being the initial arrest of plaintiffs and the subsequent detention of plaintiffs pursuant to the Borough's detention policy. That having been said, the court will next consider whether, on the facts presented, the tort of false imprisonment was committed.
"The tort of false imprisonment is established upon showing any 'unlawful restraint upon a man's freedom of locomotion.'" Bartolo v. Boardwalk Regency Hotel Casino, Inc., 185 N.J. Super. 534, 537, 449 A.2d 1339 (Law Div. 1982). Furthermore, "it has long been established that under New Jersey law a public official may be held liable for false arrest or imprisonment where he has acted outside his authority." Skevofilax v. Quigley, 586 F. Supp. 532, 545 (D.N.J. 1984).
1. The Arrests
In the present case, plaintiffs argue that they were unlawfully arrested as disorderly persons without a warrant and for conduct which occurred outside the presence of the arresting officers. In so arguing, plaintiffs cite N.J.S.A § 2A: 169-3, which states:
Whenever an offense is committed in his presence, any constable or police officer shall, and any other person may, apprehend without warrant or process any disorderly person, and take him before any magistrate of the county where apprehended.
Id. This provision has been interpreted as requiring that arrests for offenses of a lower grade than misdemeanors which are committed outside the presence of an arresting officer be made pursuant to a warrant. Roth, 576 F. Supp. at 267; State v. Morse, 54 N.J. 32, 252 A.2d 723 (1969).
Because the warrantless arrests in the case at bar were for disorderly persons offenses committed outside the presence of the arresting officers, plaintiffs have established the elements of false imprisonment arising out of those arrests.
a) The Liability Of The Arresting Officers
In the case of plaintiff Lind, her initial arrest was executed by Patrolman James Golding and a Patrolman Lindsay. Patrolman Lindsay is not a named defendant in this action.
Regarding Patrolman James Golding, defendants argue that he is entitled to immunity pursuant to section 59:3-2(a) of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. That provision states, "[a] public employee is not liable for any injury resulting from the exercise of judgment, or discretion vested in him." N.J.S.A. § 59:3-2(a). However, the applicability of Section 59:3-2(a) is superseded in this case by N.J.S.A. § 59:3-3 which states,
A public employee is not liable if he acts in good faith in the execution or enforcement of any law. Nothing in this section exonerates a public employee from liability for false arrest or false imprisonment.