U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Stearns v. Clarkson, No. 09-3103

Stearns v. Clarkson, No. 09-3103, involved an action arising out of plaintiff's arrest and strip search.  The court affirmed in part the denial of defendants' motion for summary judgment, holding that the facts would not lead a reasonable person to conclude that probable cause existed to arrest plaintiff for disorderly conduct.  However, the court reversed in part, on the ground that, while the record did not support a conclusion that defendant himself reasonably believed probable cause existed to arrest plaintiff, it in no way undermined his reliance on "the flawed conclusions of [his] fellow police officers."

As the court wrote:  "This case arises out of the arrest and strip search of plaintiff-appellee Daniel N. Stearns in Winfield, Kansas on March 23, 2006. Mr. Stearns filed a civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Cowley County, the City of Winfield, and nine individual law enforcement officials, alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Defendants Floyd Clarkson, Tom Campbell, Steve Bumpas, and Christopher Smith filed motions for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, which the district court denied. They now appeal. Because defendants contend that even under the plaintiff's version of the facts, they did not violate clearly established law, we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Johnson v. Martin, 195 F.3d 1208, 1214 (10th Cir. 1999). We AFFIRM in part and REVERSE in part."

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