New Jersey Vs. T.L.O.

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Decision : Reasonable standard held to be proper standard for determining legality of searches conducted by public school officials.

On March 7, 1980, a teacher at Piscataway High School in Middlesex County, N.J., found two girls smoking in the school lavatory, which was a violation of school code. The teacher took them to the Principles office where they met the Assistant Vice-Principle Theodore Choplick. Under questioning the first girl admitted smoking in the lavatory. The second girl, 14 year old freshman T.L.O., denied that she had smoked in the lavatory. Mr. Choplick then asked to search the girl’s purse. He found a pack of cigarettes. Upon pulling the pack of cigarettes out Mr. Choplick discovered cigarette rolling papers, which is closely associated with marijuana. He proceeded to search the purse to find a small amount of marijuana, a pipe, small empty plastic bags, a substantial amount of money all in one dollar bills, and two letters that implies that she is a dealer. Mr. Choplick notified her mother and the police and told her mother to take her to the police headquarters. A New Jersey juvenile court admitted the evidence, saying that the search of the purse was reasonable under the standard of enforcing school policy and maintaining school discipline. The court found the student, T.L.O., to be a delinquent and sentenced her to a years probation. The appellate Division affirmed the courts decision that there had been no Fourth Amendment violation, T.L.O.

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