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Lewis v. Hyland

filed: March 25, 1977; As Amended April 19, 1977.

GEORGE W. LEWIS, SALLY ANN RIDENOUR, DAVID RIDENOUR, PETER BRADY, WAYNE R. BARRETT, DANIEL ACIELLO, JESSE BERMAN, RUTH ELIZABETH QUEMORE, WILLIAM JAMES QUEMORE, JR., CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS QUEMORE, STUART BALL, JEFFREY E. FOGEL, CHARLES W. JAEGER, ELLEN URMAN, EDWARD PIWOWARSKI, KENNETH RENFRO, STANLEY SACHAROFF, CHRISTOPHER PAUL BARONE, RANDY WARSAGER, WARREN HERGENHAN, JR., ERIC MICHAEL BLUMBERG, JOHN HENRY BROWNE, RONALD LEE ROSEMAN, ROBERT MCMASTERS, DAVID TRAIN, JOSEPH A. VACCARO, ALAN P. DEMOTT, ALLEN M. RESSLER, PETER GILMORE, MARK GILMORE, MORE, ALAN C. MORRILL, BRUCE J. NUGENT, PAUL SCHNEIDER, BENJAMIN NECHIN, ALAN H. GORDON, EILEEN GRUNLOH, RONALD L. GRUNLOH, MARK A. ANTISZ, ALBERT PORTER, ROSALIE ROSSI, RICHARD F. HONYMAR, JOSEPH DEORIO, FRANK ST. CLAIRE, WILLIAM A. KINNAMAN, ROGER KLIGLER, NICHOLAS N. PAUL, MARTHA PAUL, WILLIAM F. GILLY, DANIEL L. ARMSTRONG, MARK MARKIEWICZ, CHARLES MCAFEE, LOUIS COXE, JR., DOUGLAS STARR ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
v.
WILLIAM F. HYLAND, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY; EUGENE OLAFF, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ACTING SUPERINTENDENT OF STATE POLICE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY; NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE TROOPERS BOYCE, FINK, LENSI, PITKO, FREDERICK MARTENS, RINKER, RITTGER, RUSSELL HAWKE, JAMES CONOVER, TANNEN, THOMS, LAIRD, HOOK, AND CARABELLI, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED; AND NEW JERSEY TROOPERS "JOHN DOE" INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF UNKNOWN NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE TROOPERS, APPELLEES. GEORGE W. LEWIS, SALLY ANN RIDENOUR, DAVID RIDENOUR, PETER BRADY, WAYNE R. BARRETT, DANIEL AUCIELLO, JESSE BERMAN, RUTH ELIZABETH QUEMORE, WILLIAM JAMES QUEMORE, JR., CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS QUEMORE, STUART BALL, JEFFREY E. FOGEL, CHARLES W. JAEGER, ELLEN URMAN, EDWARD PIWOWARSKI, KENNETH RENFRO, STANLEY SACHAROFF, CHRISTOPHER PAUL BARONE, RANDY WARSAGER, WARREN HERGENHAN, JR., ERIC MICHAEL BLUMBERG, JOHN HENRY BROWNE, RONALD LEE ROSEMAN, ROBERT MCMASTERS, DAVID TRAIN, JOSEPH A. VACCARO, ALAN P. DEMOTT, ALLEN M. RESSLER, PETER GILMORE, MARK GILMORE, ALAN C. MORRILL, BRUCE J. NUGENT, PAUL SCHNEIDER, BENJAMIN NECHIN, ALAN H. GORDON, EILEEN GRUNLOH, RONALD L. GRUNLOH, MARK A. ANTISZ, ALBERT PORTER, ROSALIE ROSSI, RICHARD F. HONYMAR, JOSEPH DEORIO, FRANK ST. CLAIR, WILLIAM A. KINNAMAN, ROGER KLIGLER, NICHOLAS N. PAUL, MARTHA PAUL, WILLIAM F. GILLY, DANIEL L. ARMSTRONG, MARK MARKIEWICZ, CHARLES MCAFEE, LOUIS COXE, JR., DOUGLAS STARR ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, APPELLANTS IN NO. 76-1456. PETER HOOK, JOHN TANNER AND RUSSELL HAWKE, APPELLANTS IN NO. 76-1457



ON APPEAL FROM THE JUDGMENT OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY (D.C. Civil No. 1712-70).

Rosenn, Forman and Garth, Circuit Judges.

Author: Garth

Opinion OF THE COURT

GARTH, Circuit Judge

Plaintiffs, representatives of discrete classes of travelers upon New Jersey roads, come before us for a fourth time in their laborious efforts to secure injunctive relief against the New Jersey State Police for alleged violations of Fourth Amendment and other rights.

When this case initially was before us, we determined that the complaint set forth facts which, if proved, would justify a federal equitable remedy. Lewis v. Kugler, 446 F.2d 1343 (3d Cir. 1971), rev'g in part 324 F. Supp. 1220 (D. N.J.). Plaintiffs have now substantiated (and, indeed, augmented) their initial allegations. The district court's extensive findings of fact reveal what can only be described as callous indifference by the New Jersey State Police for the rights of citizens using New Jersey roads. Were it not for the Supreme Court's opinion in Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 46 L. Ed. 2d 561, 96 S. Ct. 598 (1976), which was announced after the district court proceedings had been concluded,*fn1 our original mandate in this case, see 446 F.2d at 1350, supra, would have required that we reverse the district court's denial of injunctive relief in light of plaintiffs' demonstration of numerous violations of their constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court, however, has recently given expression to the doctrine of federal equitable abstention as it relates to federal court intervention in local police operations. In light of Rizzo v. Goode, supra,*fn2 in which the Supreme Court reversed this Court's approval of an injunction against widespread police abuses in Philadelphia, we conclude that the record of law enforcement abuses as it appears in this case - dismaying as it is - will not support federal injunctive relief.

I.

One measure of the tortuous procedural history of this litigation is the fact that the original complaint was filed in December 1970 - long before the Supreme Court announced its decision in Rizzo v. Goode, supra, and indeed, before the opinion in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669, 91 S. Ct. 746 (1971), in which concepts of equity, comity and federalism were reviewed.

Plaintiffs here sought injunctive relief against an alleged "pattern and practice of unreasonable searches of vehicles and travelers carried on without probable cause." Claiming to represent a class of "persons who travel upon the public toll roads and highways of the State of New Jersey" and who suffer such deprivations at the hands of the state police, and also claiming to represent a subclass of "persons of highly individualized personal appearance" - "long-haired highway travelers" - suffering similar deprivations because of their distinctive appearance, plaintiffs named as defendants state officials and the membership of the State Police.*fn3

Despite plaintiffs' detailing of 25 separate alleged police-citizen incidents in 17 pages of the original complaint, the district court, after a hearing on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, granted defendants' motion to dismiss. 324 F. Supp. 1220 (D.N.J. 1971). This Court reversed in part, 446 F.2d 1343 (3d Cir. 1971),*fn4 and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.

The gravamen of this Court's reversal and remand in 1971 was stated as follows:

If the plaintiffs can establish that they are subjected to a deliberate pattern and practice of constitutional violations by the New Jersey State Troopers, we believe that they are entitled to appropriate injunctive relief. Persons who can establish that they are being denied their constitutional rights are entitled to relief, and it can no longer be seriously contended that an action for money damages will serve adequately to remedy unconstitutional searches and seizures.

446 F.2d at 1350 (footnotes omitted.) *fn5 While we there noted the difficulties inherent in providing effective injunctive relief for citizens without obstructing the law enforcement duties of the police,*fn6 this problem was not viewed as insurmountable. If the facts substantiated plaintiffs' complaint, the district court was clearly expected to invoke its "very broad power"*fn7 to "fashion an appropriate remedy that [would] protect the constitutional rights of citizens, while preserving the integrity and efficiency of the law enforcement authorities."*fn8

Pursuant to this directive, the district court held an evidentiary hearing at which 50 of plaintiffs' witnesses testified. Plaintiffs renewed their motion for a preliminary injunction; defendants once again moved to dismiss the complaint or for entry of judgment in their favor. The district court judge refused to grant either plaintiffs' or defendants' motions, reserving decision until the defendants presented their case. Plaintiffs appealed from the district court's order of December 28, 1971 denying their motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court's denial of an interim injunction was thereafter sustained by a judgment order of this Court. Lewis v. Kugler, No. 72-1137 (3d Cir. May 8, 1973).

In the interim, the litigation encountered the first in a series of events which account for its present procedural posture. With the case ready for decision in the district court, the district court judge who had been presiding over the hearings died. The litigation was then transferred, over plaintiffs' protests, from Newark to the district court in Camden, New Jersey.*fn9 A pre-trial order was executed specifying that the case would be tried on the record as it then stood, supplemented by several additional witnesses for plaintiffs "whose testimonies will be representative of recent incidents of alleged misconduct by state troopers against 'long-haired travelers' on the state's highways."*fn10

Before this order could be implemented, the district court judge in Camden, to whom the case had been reassigned, died. After reassignment to a third district court judge, the parties agreed that, save for several supplementary depositions, the case should be decided on the then-existing record. In January 1974 these depositions were taken, and the case was once again ready for decision.

This time retirement intervened. This third district court judge to whom the case was now assigned, assumed senior status. It was at this time that the case came before the district court judge whose order we now review. The parties again agreed to submit the case on the record developed to that date, save for the addition of one affidavit. On that record, and without additional or live testimony, plaintiffs again sought a temporary injunction; once again, that relief was denied. The district court then reserved decision on certification of the putative classes plaintiffs claimed to represent, indicating that the class action determination would turn on its resolution of the equitable claims.*fn11

That resolution came on November 13, 1975. The district court issued an unpublished opinion cataloging 66 separate controverted highway incidents involving state troopers and citizens. Of this number, 34 involved "clear violations of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights." The district court judge went on to "take judicial notice of the fact that a relatively small number of those whose rights were violated were represented before the court."

Despite the court's findings of constitutional violations by New Jersey State Troopers, injunctive relief was denied. In essence, the district court reasoned that the number of incidents of police abuse of citizens' rights, even extrapolating beyond those proved in this case, paled in comparison with the overwhelming number of routine contacts between Troopers and travellers.*fn12 The evidence was found to reveal no "deliberate pattern and practice" of abuse by responsible officials; rather, the fault lay in the "willful and random acts . . . of a minority of the Troopers."

In addition, the court found no "substantial threat" of future violations by abusive Troopers. The passage of time, a general acceptance of diverse life-styles and appearances and the threat of this litigation were all accorded a beneficial effect. In the absence of pressing need, injunctive interference in police operations was determined to be unwise.

Still, the district court felt duty-bound to follow our earlier mandate to remedy any constitutional violations. With injunctive relief held to be unavailable, the district court, apparently sua sponte, stated that it would entertain applications for money damages against those individual Troopers who had violated the constitutional rights of named plaintiffs.*fn13 By an order dated January 14, 1976, the court awarded damages totalling $600 against three individual Troopers.

Plaintiffs appeal from that portion of the court's final judgment which denied injunctive relief. They also appeal from the court's refusal to permit them to add additional named defendants against whom they desired an award of money damages. They also contest the sufficiency of damages awarded.

Defendants appeal from the court's award of damages and its denial of a jury ...


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