Case Brief New Jersey v. T.L.O (1985)
AED-565-501 Public Law
Does violating a school rule legitimately justify searching a student and her things in their possession? While a school rule may have been broken, possessing and carrying what she had did not violate any school rule and she may have been unjustifiably searched!!
The lower Court 1 ruling stated the 4th amendment carried out by school officials that a school official may conduct a search at reasonable cause. The New Jersey State Court System affirmed that there was no 4th amendment violation, but faught the Juvenile Court to decide if T.L.O had knowingly waived her 5th amendment right against self-incrimination before confessing. The lower court 3 ruling stated that the school administration was not reasonable because the mere possession of cigarettes did not violate school rules. Basically throughout all of the court cases, it was found that the 4th amendment applies to school officials. In other words, they are protected to search!
In December of 1985, 14 year old TLO freshman and her friend were caught smoking in a school bathroom, and were taken to the principals office. The problem with this is that you cannot smoke on school grounds but there was no school violation of having cigarettes on campus. TLO denied that she was smoking. The assistant Vice Principal demanded to see her purse, after TLO was forced to hand over the purse, the principal observed a pack of cigarettes. Assistant Vice Principal Choplick searched through her purse because rolling papers were in plain view, he also found marijuana, rolling papers, a pipe, empty plastic bags, a large quantity of money in $1 bills, and index card that appeared to list students who owed TLO money, and two letters that implicated TLO in dealing marijuana. The principal then called the police and the girl’s mother, who voluntarily drove her to the police station. She was convicted of dealing and the use of illicit drugs. She was expelled from the school and fined $1,000.
The Supreme Court of the United States, by a 6 to 3 margin, had met their standards of reasonable cause and searches at school. According to the school officials, they had a reasonable cause to search her things. Her lying about smoking gave them reasonable cause to assume she had the cigarettes in her purse. The vice-principal then with reasonable cause decided to search the purse. When the vice-principal was searching for the cigarettes, the drug-related evidence was in plain view. The 4th amendment states the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall be issued. The reasonable search for cigarettes led to some of the drug related material being discovered, which justified a search and resulted in discovering the small bags, marijuana, and money. The Supreme Court overturned the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling even though the New Jersey Supreme Court had sided with her.
Terry vs. Ohio
This case a police officer saw suspicious activity out of two people, the suspicious activity involved them starring into a window of a store approximately 24 times. The officer decided to question the men and do a frisk. The problem with this is that under the 4th Amendment a search for weapons without probable cause for arrest is an unreasonable search.
Safford Unified School District v. Redding
This case is where school officials provided a strip search, which violated the 4th amendment.
Opinions of the Court
In the case New Jersey v. T.L.O, the 4th amendment was focused on and the search was not unreasonable. First the initial search for cigarettes was reasonable. The initial report to the Assistant Vice Principal that TLO had been smoking warranted a reasonable suspicion that she had cigarettes in her purse, she lied after being caught smoking, finding the cigarettes after the search was justifiable. Second, the discovery of the rolling papers then gave a reasonable suspicion that TLO was carrying marijuana as well as cigarettes in her purse, and this suspicion justified the further exploration that turned up more evidence of drug-related activities. It is now beyond dispute that the Federal Constitution, by virtue of the 14th Amendment, prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures by state officers. The 14th Amendment protects the rights of the students against encroachment by public officials. She took her case to the supreme courts, which later found that search was unreasonable and the evidence could not be used. Students in general have a reduced expectation of privacy when in school, so reasonable cause could mean just about anything.
New Jersey v. T.L.O 469 U.S. 325 (1985)
Retrieved from http://www.caselaw.findlaw.comSafford Unified School District v. Redding
Retrieved from http://www.aclu.orgTerry v. Ohio
Retrieved from http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org/Terryv.Ohio