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New Jersey v. TLO

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 469 U.S. 325, 105 S. Ct. 733, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720 (1985)

Brief Fact Summary. The vice-principal of a school searched a students bag and found evidence that she was dealing marijuana.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. “[S]chool officials need not obtain a warrant before searching a student who is under their authority.”

Facts. The principle of a high school discovered two girls smoking in a laboratory. One of the girls admitted she was smoking, which violated a school rule. The second girl claimed she was not smoking and as such did not break the rule. The assistant vice-principal took the student into his private office and demanded to search her purse. While looking for cigarettes, the vice-principal found a package of cigarette rolling papers. He continued searching the purse and found a small amount of marijuana and a pipe, a number of empty plastic bags and a substantial amount of one dollar bills and an index card with the names of various people who owed the student money.
The state brought delinquency proceedings against the student and the student argued that her Fourth Amendment Rights were violated . The juvenile court denied the motion to suppress and the student was found to be delinquent. The Appellant Division affirmed the trial court’s finding there was no Fourth Amendment violation. The Supreme Court of New Jersey overruled the Appellate Division.

Issue. What is the appropriate “standard for assessing the legality of searches conducted by public school officials and the application of that standard to the facts of this case[?]”

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