A Supreme Court case testing whether jails can strip-search all arrestees has provoked a bitter clash between two headstrong lawyers on the same side, reports the Wall Street Journal. The dispute between Susan Chana Lask and Elmer Robert Keach III sheds light on a lucrative legal niche, and shows why a decisive ruling by the Supreme Court is sometimes the last thing lawyers want. For decades, federal appeals courts held it unconstitutional to strip-search people arrested on minor charges without a specific reason to suspect weapons or drugs were hidden on their bodies.
Many jails flouted those holdings by strip-searching every inmate. Keach and his colleagues have won $36 million in class-action settlements with such jails Roughly 30% of that went to attorneys’ fees. Now Keach says Lask may have ruined it all by bringing a case before a conservative-led Supreme Court, where several justices suggested in oral arguments that blanket strip-search policies might be constitutional. “Susan Chana Lask is an incompetent dolt,” said Keach. Lask calls Keach a “monster” who put profits ahead of the victims’ cause, she said. The Journal details how the two lawyers had a major falling out.