March 5, 2005

Cops, Dean ruled out of bounds in MHS pot bust

Two separate courts have now ruled that Moline police and a Dean at Moline High School did not have the right to pull a student out of class and search him after receiving an anonymous tip through the CrimeStoppers hotline that the student had marijuana in his possession.

A judge dismissed the charges initially in Rock Island county, and the Rock Island County DA's office appealed the ruling. The 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa upheld the Rock Island judge's ruling this month saying that the anonymous tip wasn't specific enough to warrant the actions taken by the Dean and police.

More on the story from the Dispatch/Argus.

6 Comments:

At 3/06/2005 6:36 PM, Blogger Dissenter said...

The courts have traditionally applied and interpreted the doctrine of in loco parentis such that the Fourth Amendment was not so rigid of a shield for students. This raises an interesting issue. On the one hand, we can certainly argue that the Fourth Amendment is as applicable to minors as it is to adults and, consequentially, no distinction should be made. On the other hand, given that they are minors entrusted to the quasi-parental supervision of school authorities, they are necessarily not possessed of the same rights as those who do not stand within the context of the in loco parentis doctrine. This decision is particularly interesting, because it gives rise once again to public discourse on the issue of just what level of rights must we accord to school children?

 
At 3/06/2005 8:09 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

The Dope was surprised by the fact that not only did the original jurisdiction rule this way, but the appellate court as well.

I'm surprised at it, though I find myself agreeing with the end result.

As I see it, the case seemed to hinge on the reliability of the information the cops received via the anonymous tip. The courts aapparently were ruling on what standard of evidence was needed before justifying such a search. I think they ruled correctly in that this sort of thing could really spiral out of control, with vindictive kids simply calling in to the tip line and saying the kid they don't like has drugs on him or her.
These rulings would serve to send a message to cops and school administrators that they better make sure the tips they receive are very credible before they invade a student's privacy with a search.

But that raises the question, how can you EVER be sure an anonymous tip is credible?

 
At 3/06/2005 8:52 PM, Blogger Dissenter said...

"How can you EVER be sure an anonymous tip is credible?" In an adult, non-student context, the standard of whether an "anonymous tip" is sufficiently reliable to justify a detention is whether there is sufficient independent corroboration with which to create the indicia of reliability. Put more simply, if a cop receives an anonymous tip of a drunk driver driving a 1978 blue in color Ford Fairlane bearing Illinois Registration INS DOPE, traveling eastbound on Interstate 88 at a high rate of speed, and the officer then observes such facts for himself, there may be sufficient independent corroboration with which to establish the indicia of reliability.

There is no question that in the Moline High School case, there was no indicia of reliability. For my money, however, that is not where the case turned. The case seems to suggest that in loco parentis does not confer school officials with unbridled power to pierce the Fourth Amendment rights of a minor. This is the particularly interesting issue.

The entire text of the actual appellate court decision can be reviewed at the following link:
http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2005/3rdDistrict/February/Html/3040305.htm

Enjoy.

 
At 3/07/2005 11:39 AM, Anonymous Atticus Finch said...

But in that scenario, wouldn't the tip be considered probable cause to pull over the driver and do a sobriety check? I would think so.

 
At 3/07/2005 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and since when do children have RIGHTS? and right on finch!

 
At 3/07/2005 9:17 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I do believe that children must have certain rights, after all, they're NOT property. Now how far those rights go is open for debate.

But I'd be interested in dissenter's opinion on the probable cause scenario.

 

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