A U.S. jury yesterday rejected an Arlington lawyer's claim for damages in a 1980 lawsuit that led to the county's controversial jail strip-search policy being declared unconstitutional.
The six-member jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria deliberated for about two hours before rebuffing the claim by lawyer Lucy N. Logan.
Attorneys on both sides said yesterday the jury apparently accepted the argument of the defendants, former Arlington Sheriff J. Elwood Clements and a former deputy, Carol Sachtleben, that they had acted in good faith in enforcing the now defunct policy.
"We're obviously pleased," said defense attorney Claude M. Hilton. "There was never any question of this policy being a valid one," until the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Logan's request for a permanent injunction against it last October, he said.
Logan could not be reached for comment. "It was one of the problems of this case that it was the first one," said Logan's lawyer, Thomas A. Guidoboni.
Logan was arrested by Arlington police in March 1976 and charged with driving while intoxicated and refusing to take a breath analysis test. She was held for several hours at the Arlington County jail, during which time she was ordered to undress and was searched for weapons or other contraband.
Logan, who was subsequently acquitted of the charges, filed suit in March 1980, claiming the county's policy of indiscriminately strip-searching all persons admitted to the jail was unconstitutional.
District Judge Oren R. Lewis dismissed the suit, but the federal appeals court in Richmond ordered it reinstated, concluding the search policy was "conclusively shown to be unconstitutional" and "bore no discernible relationship to security needs."
In court papers filed earlier, Logan had asked $100,000 in damages for mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment she allegedly suffered as a result of the search.
Clements, who left office in 1979, testified on Wednesday the policy was instituted in 1974 after deputies found weapons and drugs had been taken into the jail by prisoners.
Hilton said yesterday a similar civil suit against Arlington County and Clements is pending in federal court in Alexandria.