Supreme Court Declines to Hear MCSO's Cross-Gender Kinda Nude Inmate Pat-Down Case

If you're man, and had plans of going to jail to get felt up by a woman, we have some bad news.

The United States Supreme Court decided today to not hear the case of a former Maricopa County jail inmate who claims a female detention officer grabbed his junk during a somewhat-nude pat down while he was a guest of the county in 2004.

The former inmate, Charles Byrd, claims that having a woman conduct a search that included him stripping down to only his jail-issued pink undies violated his Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and ruled that the cross-gender pat down violated Byrd's rights -- and the Supreme Court will not hear the case to potentially overturn that ruling.

The incident happened in 2004, when Byrd -- as well as nearly 90 other inmates at the Durango Jail -- were ordered to strip down to their pink undies for a search for contraband.

Present during the search were an estimated 25 cadets, a number of training supervisors, and 10 to 15 uniformed guards. One of those cadets was Kathleen O'Connell, who Byrd claims grabbed his penis and butt during the search.

The type of search used for Byrd and the other inmates is described as a cross between a pat-down search and a strip search. Rather than a visual inspection, the search used on Byrd allowed officers to physically touch him to identify concealed weapons or contraband.

No contraband was found on Byrd.

The 9th Circuit voted 6-5 in favor of Byrd in the case -- but only after a jury in a lower court determined Byrd's rights had not been violated.

In the courts decision, first obtained by the Christian Science Monitor, Judge Johnnie Rawlinson writes that "the indignity of the non-emergency strip search conducted by an unidentified female cadet was compounded by the fact that there were onlookers, at least one of whom videotaped the humiliating event."

"Courts throughout the country have universally frowned upon cross-gender strip searches in the absence of an emergency or exigent circumstances," he continues.

So, heterosexual male jail inmates, when it's only male detention officers grabbing your balls from now on, you can thank Charles Byrd. 

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James King
Contact: James King