Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

NEUMEYER v. BEARD

January 20, 2004.

TERESA NEUMEYER and LARRY NEUMEYER, Plaintiffs
v.
JEFFERY BEARD and KENNETH KYLER, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MUNLEY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is Magistrate Thomas M. Blewitt's report and recommendation with regard to cross-motions for summary judgment filed by the parties to the present case. The Magistrate's report recommends that summary judgment be granted to the defendants. The plaintiffs are Teresa Neumeyer and Larry Neumeyer and the defendants are Jeffery Beard, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") and Kenneth Kyler, Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon ("SCIH"). Plaintiffs have filed objections to the report and recommendation. For the reasons that follow, the objections will be overruled and the report and recommendation adopted.

Background*fn1

  According to a policy of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), prison visitor vehicles parked on facility grounds are subject to random searches after the owner or Page 2 operator consents in writing. If a prison visitor refuses to provide written consent permitting SCIH corrections officers to search his or her vehicle, then the visitor will not be allowed to enter the prison to visit any prisoner on that day.

  On various dates, the plaintiffs visited Teresa Neumeyer's father, Preston Pfeifly, at the SCIH. On May 28, 2001, and May 27, 2002, the plaintiffs' vehicle was searched by SCIH corrections officers after it was parked on institutional property. Prior to the searches, Plaintiff Teresa Neumeyer had signed a "Consent To Search Vehicle" form, which gave her consent to having the vehicle searched.

  There does not exist any information or allegations in any SCIH records or reports indicating that the plaintiffs have brought, or attempted to bring, unlawful contraband and illegal narcotics into SCIH or possessed the same in their vehicle. DOC policy does not require corrections officers to have a search warrant, probable cause or reasonable suspicion to search a vehicle on SCIH grounds as such vehicle searches are conducted only after obtaining the written consent of the owner or operator.

  Not every prison visitor vehicle is searched as SCIH. There are no written standards as to how the searches are to be conducted; in general, they are conducted randomly as time and complement permit. The discovery of illegal narcotics in a prison visitor vehicle by SCIH corrections officers triggers notification of the Pennsylvania State Police.

  Plaintiffs contend that having their vehicle subjected to search under these circumstances violates the Fourth Amendment. They have brought suit under 42 U.S. § 1983 Page 3 seeking declaratory injunctive relief but not damages. Defendants have moved for summary judgment arguing that as there is no dispute that the plaintiffs consented to both searches, the proper analysis must be made under the First Amendment's right of association and that conditioning visiting prisoners on the visitor agreeing to permit searching their vehicle when parked on state correctional institution property is constitutional. Plaintiffs have also filed a motion for summary judgment.

  On November 20, 2003, Magistrate Thomas M. Blewitt issued a report and recommendation concluding that defendants' motion for summary judgment should be granted and that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment should be denied. Plaintiffs have filed objections to the report and recommendation, bringing the case to its present posture.

 Standard of review

  In disposing of objections to a magistrate's report and recommendation, the district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(C): see also Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 877 (3d Cir. 1987). This court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate. The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate with instructions. Id.

 Discussion

  In his R&R, the Magistrate concluded that searches of prison visitor vehicles do not infringe upon, or violate, their constitutional rights to privacy under the Fourth Amendment. Page 4 Plaintiffs object to this conclusion and argue that "[p]ermitting prison guards to rummage through vehicles without any written standards as to vehicle selection and search techniques is the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent." Plaintiffs' Brief, p. 2 (citations omitted). We disagree.

  Visitors to prisons are not afforded the same Fourth Amendment protections as individuals "on public streets or in a home." See Spear v. Sow ders, 71 F.3d 626, 629-30 (6th Cir. 1995) ("[A] citizen does not have a right unfettered visitation of a prisoner that rises to a constitutional dimension. In seeking entry to such a controlled environment, the visitor simultaneously acknowledges a lesser expectation of privacy."). As a result, prison officials have greater authority to conduct searches of prison visitors. Id. at 630 ("[P]rison authorities have much greater leeway ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.