Fourth Amendment

Federal Judge Rules Forced Catheterization by South Dakota Police Violates Fourth Amendment

Suspected low-level drug crimes don't "justify subjecting the plaintiffs to involuntary catheterization, a highly invasive—and in these cases—degrading medical procedure."

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A federal judge ruled Wednesday that South Dakota law enforcement's practice of involuntary catheterizations to obtain urine samples from suspected drug users violated the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches.

Chief Judge Roberto Lange of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota ruled that a civil rights lawsuit by six plaintiffs who allege they were forcibly catheterized can proceed to trial on Fourth Amendment grounds. Lange found that the mere suspicion of low-level drug crimes did not appear to justify the invasive, potentially dangerous, and painful procedures.

The suit named three South Dakota cities, several police officers from those towns, and a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper as defendants.

"Defendants' need to obtain the plaintiffs' urine to prove a low-level drug crime did not justify subjecting the plaintiffs to involuntary catheterization, a highly invasive—and in these cases—degrading medical procedure," Lange wrote.

Under South Dakota law, ingesting drugs is a crime. The plaintiffs allege that they were held down and subjected to involuntary catheterization after police obtained search warrants for urine samples to detect the presence of drugs. But in the cases of two of the plaintiffs, Gena Alvarez and Aaron Peters, they were not arrested for suspected drug crimes at all.

Lange's ruling, and the facts behind the case, are worth quoting at length:

Consider Alvarez's case. The law enforcement need for Alvarez's urine was not so great that it was reasonable for a male officer to hold down her bare leg, as a nurse ran a tube up her urethra and into her bladder, as Alvarez lay naked from the waist down screaming, even though she had told all present about having been sexually assaulted and was visibly distraught. Indeed, by the time of the forcible catheterization of Alvarez, law enforcement already had evidence of her driving under the influence of alcohol, so law enforcement's purpose in her involuntary catheterization was merely to see if evidence of some other charge of ingestion—in her case of marijuana—might also be brought. There is no community interest in involuntarily catheterizing an emotionally distraught woman with a history of having been raped just to see if evidence exists to tack a drug ingestion charge onto an ironclad case of driving under the influence of alcohol. Peters's case also illustrates the point. Peters was arrested on a bench warrant for failing to pay a court-ordered financial obligation after having been seen outside an apartment complex. The point of catheterizing Peters was to see if he could be charged with a drug-ingestion offense. A video shows Peters being catheterized with four officers holding him down and with his feet twitching as he screams in pain repeatedly.

Lange concluded that "forcing the Plaintiffs to undergo catheterization was unreasonable given the extreme intrusion on the Plaintiffs' dignitary interests, the nature of the suspected crime, and the availability of less intrusive means to collect evidence of guilt."

However, Lange did grant qualified immunity to the law enforcement officers named in the suit, shielding them from liability.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota following a 2017 investigation by the Argus Leader, which found that even children had been subject to forced catheterization—one as young as 3 years old.

The ACLU of South Dakota filed a second lawsuit on behalf of the child. It alleged that his mother was coerced by state social services officials into giving consent for her son to be catheterized to test his urine for drugs. As a result, the lawsuit claims, the boy suffered emotional trauma and developed a staph infection.

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  1. Hell, I don’t think even a warrant should be sufficient to allow violation of bodily integrity like that. This should never happen to anyone charged with any crime, low level or otherwise.

    1. You and me both, Zeb.

      Guess the penalties post involuntary colonoscopy of that poor bastard in Deming, NM weren’t high enough to deter other departments. Absolutely fucking barbaric.

      If the accused is so intoxicated, that their behavior and demeanor make it beyond a reasonable doubt they’re intoxicated, and that’s a crime; or other parts of their behavior constitute a crime, then arrest them for that. And if you can’t tell, through looking at them, or their behavior: Then Let Them Go.

      But arresting someone because they’re swaying and acting like an asshole might be hard to do. How much easier to get a fluid sample, and let the accused’s body betray them. Who gives a shit if it’s inhumane? Not like drunks, junkies, or methbillies are people anyway.

      The War on Some Drugs has done damned near irrevocable damage to the relationship between citizens and their police. With quarantine restrictions, it might become irrevocable.

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      2. Absolutely fucking barbaric.

        Vlad the Impaler would be so proud.

      3. Maybe they’ll get angry enough to vote libertarian.

        1. Hank dishing out the jokes!

      4. “Guess the penalties post involuntary colonoscopy of that poor bastard in Deming, NM weren’t high enough to deter other departments.”

        What are you talking about? That was asshole exploration/explotation. This is pisshole exploration/explotation. Totally different, you get a free pass – supreme court verdict?

        “Absolutely fucking barbaric.” Totally agree with you

        1. Your logic is ‘sound’.

          (Don’t Google that term and urethra at the same time if you haven’t had breakfast yet.)

          Is it that hard to just leave people alone? If they’re a crook, and the cops want to arrest them, but the crook dumped the contraband or otherwise isn’t breaking the law? Come. Back. Tomorrow. Don’t act like a fucking Nazi just to make some stupid intoxication bust. The criminal gets to win one, every once in awhile.

          Crooks are dumb. They’re going to be doing the same stupid shit tomorrow that the cops are trying to bust them for today. Bust them then. Not like they’re going to leave the area, and if they do? Great! Now they’re some other city’s problem.

          SLD: End the War on Some Drugs. Adults have the right to do what they wish with other consenting adults, so long as no one else gets hurt.

    2. Literally rape

      1. It’s actually literally not rape at all. But I’m sure the people who have been raped will be comforted by your attempts to downplay and minimize how bad rape is by trying to fit everything in that category for shock value and somehow thinking that this ridiculous comment makes you clever or insightful. It doesn’t. It’s not rape and it’s sick and pathetic that you would make such an outrageous comparison. Same as the people calling Trump Hitler or claiming that the “cages” that Obama built somehow is comparable to concentration camps. Truly shameful.

        1. It might not be “literally” rape by some definitions, but it’s quite similar to rape. It also IS literally rape by some definitions.

          Doug, you seem to be almost sociopathically apathetic to the suffering of others. You realize this is a libertarian site that values freedom, right? Like what are you even doing here? Your presence and your contributions here are not valued.

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    3. Here we go with experts weighing in on things they don’t understand. I’m not saying that I agree with this but the author takes some pretty big liberties with the facts and exaggerating the issue for drama.

      “Defendants’ need to obtain the plaintiffs’ urine to prove a low-level drug crime did not justify subjecting the plaintiffs to involuntary catheterization, a highly invasive—and in these cases—degrading medical procedure,” WRONG. A straight cath procedure is not considered “highly invasive” Sorry. So putting quotes in to boost your opinion without context is intentionally dishonest.

      “emotionally distraught woman with a history of having been raped just…” YOU HAVEN’T A CLUE. NOT one clue, proof or evidence that this woman was ever raped. And just as a matter of fact after working in healthcare for 35 years in both mental health and emergency medicine it is NOT uncommon for people to make this claim to avoid being searched, examined, or arrested. This is just another example of horrible sloppy journalism with the author simply pushing her opinions.

      “A video shows Peters being catheterized with four officers holding him down and with his feet twitching as he screams in pain repeatedly…” Screams in “pain” You know that he was in pain and screaming for another reason. You know that they didn’t use a urojet for numbing and that he is in pain. You were either there or reviewed the medical records so by all means let us know how you validated this piece of information. Seriously. This “publication” is a joke.

      1. Go fuck yourself, Doug. Preferably with a Foley catheter. When you’re done with that, you can take your ‘Well acktually…’ that their conduct wasn’t rape, and shove that up your ass sideways. It wasn’t rape, just sexual assault under color of law.

        I’m one of the more pro law and order guys on this site—not hard to do, admittedly—and I’m saying these police officers behaved abominably. Were it not for a century of common law ratcheting ever onward towards repression, and evisceration of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, this conduct would be unquestionably illegal. As it is, the Supreme Court would rather come out for jury nullification than suggest that search and seizure powers might stand to be reined in a bit. (Kyllo still surprises me; I guess old farts’ prejudice and fear of new technology outweighed their typical desire to let law enforcement look where they want.)

        The officers caused a tube to be forced up the genital openings of these people, just to try and get a urine sample of intoxication. Anyone thinking that sort of conduct to prove up that crime is in any way acceptable, feel free to leave this country and go to some shithole where total compliance with law enforcement and unquestioning deference to authority is expected.

        You don’t belong here. It’s disgusting that attitudes that you exemplify in your post are thought by yourself and others to be pro law and order.

      2. yeah this is an incredibly poor take.

        i had major wrist surgery years back. because it took longer than planned, they had to catheterize me while i was out. for 2-3 days, the pain from that was infinitely worse than anything they did to my wrist. on the first day i had to soak my hog in ice water for 5-10 minutes before i could whiz without agony.

        i can’t imagine the physical trauma of having something shoved up your dick hole is any less when its done with force….all for a minor drug charge? WHO CARES

        decriminalize it all.

  2. So forced catheterization is bad but forced injections are good, according to the Federal Court.

  3. What kind of sick fuck wants to do this in the first place?

    1. Catheterize someone or become a cop?

      1. Thank god they can’t detect drugs in semen. As bad as involuntary catherization is, I don’t even want to imagine an involuntary handjob from a cop.

        1. I’ll fuck you ’til you love me, faggot! Stop resisting!

          1. Stop resisting!
            That’s the best part, though.

    2. The same kind of sick fucks who want to be cops.

  4. Insane.

  5. Holy crap! Do you get a chance to confess first? Because there is not much I wouldn’t confess to to avoid having a tube shoved up my penis.

    1. Forced rectal searches are sooooo passe’.

      1. Tell that to the Transport Sozialist Arbeiterpartei!

  6. The police, like the Gestapo, are following orders flowing down from politicians. With LP vote share tracking a product replacement curve at +80% a year, the kleptocracy can be counted on to hide the link between asset forfeiture and financial collapse, and try to keep LP candidates off the ballot. To counter this voters could write in “Libertarian” where looters have barred LP candidates. Spoiler votes influencing politicians is what changes the orders they give their Gestapo.

  7. Lesson #1: Don’t go to South Dakota!

  8. Just more collateral damage in the “War on Drugs”.

  9. As bad as the forced catheterizations are, the qualified immunity is worse. Telling cops they’re free to do whatever they haven’t specifically been forbidden from doing leaves an infinite amount of depravity available – and apparently the courts believe that depravity is just to be expected from cops. “Look, nobody told the cop you can’t gouge out somebody’s eye and skull-fuck them, so it’s certainly not his fault, it’s not like you could have expected him to know better.”

    1. First of all the cops didn’t do this so please grow up. Medical personnel did upon the order of a judge. Take your anti-cop bullshit elsewhere.

  10. with all that is clearly wrong with this the cops are still getting qualified immunitiy what kind of Bs is that does their handbook say to shove shit up peoples holes to get results i doubt it.

    those cops are sick fucks

  11. “However, Lange did grant qualified immunity to the law enforcement officers named in the suit”

    Even the nazis would have paused at doing this.

    So now police officers are worse than nazis.

  12. However, Lange did grant qualified immunity to the law enforcement officers named in the suit, shielding them from liability.

    Making them liable would have a chilling effect on law enforcement’s ability to unconstitutionally and violently fish for evidence.

  13. What the hell kind of judge(s) would even issue such warrants?

    And why no mention of who this judge or judges were in the article?

    1. “What the hell kind of judge(s) would even issue such warrants?”

      One that has very poor reading comprehension skills and cannot understand the meaning of the 4th and 5th amendments to the constitution. These actions AND the warrant upon which they were enabled violate both the “unreasonable search” and the not be “compelled … to bear witness against himself” clauses.

      I’d like to see life sentences handed down to those who violate the constitution, the highest law in the land from which all other laws flow.

      1. This^

  14. Even with lubricant, a Foley catheter is going to hurt; normally its done under sedation. Those SOBs committed sexual assault and should be tarred & feathered. Qualified immunity cannot end soon enough.

    1. As a physician, I can assure you that Foleys are not normally inserted under sedation.

      1. I should have been more specific. Many Foleys are not inserted while patient is fully conscious. It would not make sense to sedate someone just for Foley insertion except perhaps in rare circumstances.

  15. Why don’t we see SJWs protesting this crap?

    1. They’re too busy cheering on big government.

      1. Or the lockdown.

    2. because the SJWs need the cops to enforce lockdowns by arresting people floating alone in the ocean or a park or in their own home with their kids. i think you get the idea

  16. It’s not surprising, but still infuriating that the cops who did this were granted qualified immunity. The fact that cops can do this and face no consequences is a big reason it even takes place. If cops knew they would likely go to prison for doing this to people, it would be far less common.

  17. I was a state court trial judge for 18 years and I cannot imagine granting a search warrant to preform an involuntary catheterization. I remember having heated discussions about requests for warrants for DNA samples (which just involves a Q-tip rubbed on the inside of the mouth) and these were always felony cases. We have far too many judges at all levels who merely act as a rubber stamp for the government rather than upholding their oaths to the constitution(s).

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  19. Qualified immunity is a precedent being used to overrule federal law to allow government employees to violate the US Constitution.

    IMO the officers should be convicted under title 18 and do the time but the judge should be publicly hanged and disembowelled outside his court room for treason.

    1. I’m not saying I agree with everything Jeb Kerman just said, but I do think he’s on the right track.

  20. I miss RC Dean, and his comments about being of counsel to a hospital, during the whole Deming disaster. The commentariat is lessened by his absence.

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