(CN) – A pat-down search of a male prisoner by a female training cadet did not violate the prisoner’s civil rights, the 9th Circuit ruled, narrowly upholding an Arizona judge’s decision.
Charles Edward Byrd claimed that a search of his housing unit, during which a partial strip search and pat down of his groin area was conducted by a female training cadet, despite the availability of male detention officers nearby, violated his constitutional rights.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco reluctantly agreed with the lower court that the search did not violate Byrd’s Fourth Amendment rights.
“[W]e cannot conclude that the manner of the search was unreasonable, or constituted an ‘exaggerated or excessive means to enforce security,'” Judge Ikuta wrote.
But the three-judge panel said the decision was a close one.
“We are troubled by the overall circumstances of the search in question,” Ikuta added, but emphasized that prisoners’ expectations of privacy are “extremely limited.”
Judge Fernandez dissented in part.
“When all is said and done, I would not think it was reasonable for males to strip search females in this kind of situation,” Fernandez wrote, “and I do not think it was reasonable to have females strip search males. If our law does approve of it, and the majority opinion cogently reasons that it does, I reluct; the law should change.”