Justice Now

J U S T I C E   N O W:
You Be the Judge
Case 1: Illegal Search?

In 1980, in a New Jersey High School, a teacher found a 14 year old student (identified in court records by the initials "T.L.O.") smoking in the bathroom and took her to the principal's office. The student denied she'd been smoking and claimed that she didn't smoke at all. The vice principal then searched her purse and found not only a pack of cigarettes, but rolling papers, a small amount of marijuana, a pipe, a large amount of cash, and an index card with a list of student names and amount of money owed T.L.O. This evidence was turned over to the Juvenile Court and it prosecuted T.L.O. for drug dealing. T.L.O. tried to have the evidence thrown out of court, claiming that it was obtained by illegal search. She based her claim on the 4th Amendment, which protects citizens against "unreasonable search and seizure." She argued that the school principal didn't have good reason to search her purse, as there was no evidence that she had been smoking.

Who was right?
In whose favor do you think the court decided - T.L.O. or the school?
What do
you think?


When a student is at school, school rules are the law. They have the right to search a student's possessions any time they decide it's necessary to protect the rest of the students.


If this student wasn't involved in drug dealing then she wouldn't have minded if the school searched her purse.


It's okay for a school to search a student's possessions in some situations.


This was an "unreasonable" search, so whatever was found in the student's purse should not be used as evidence against her.


This is a total outrage! A student should have the freedom to carry anything in a purse, pocket, or backpack. No nosy teacher or principal has the right to pry into her belongings.

Or click here to see the results so far.


Check out other "You be the Judge" Cases:



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