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Hudson v. Palmer


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468 U.S. 517 (1984), argued 7 Dec. 1983, decided 3 July 1983 by vote of 5 to 4; Burger for the Court, O’Connor concurring, Stevens, joined by Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun, concurring in part and dissenting in part. The Supreme Court held in this case that prison inmates do not have a right to privacy in their prison cells that would entitle them to Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. Palmer was an inmate at the Bland Correctional Center in Bland, Virginia. Hudson, an officer at the center, along with another corrections officer, conducted a “shakedown” search of Palmer's locker and cell. The officers found a ripped pillowcase in the trashcan and Palmer was charged with destroying state property. Palmer brought suit under section 1983 of the civil rights statutes (Title 42 of the U.S. Code) alleging that Hudson had conducted the search solely to harass him and further that Hudson had destroyed some of his noncontraband property in violation of the due process protections of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote for the majority that, under Katz v. United States (1967), there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in a prison cell; therefore the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and siezures did not apply. The Court also dismissed Hudson's due process claim on the basis of Parratt v. Taylor (1981), which held that a state employee's negligent deprivation of an inmate's property does not violate the Due Process Clause if the state makes a meaningful postdeprivation remedy available.

Daryl R. Fair

Subjects: Law.


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