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Supreme Court Rules that Strip Search of 13-year-old Student was Unconstitutional

Posted by Dev Sethi | Apr 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Supreme Court Rules that Strip Search of 13-year-old Student was Unconstitutional

This week, the United States Supreme Court upheld (8-1) an Arizona state court decision that the strip search of a 13 year old girl by school officials who were looking for prescription-strength drugs violated her constitutional rights. After hearing from another student that Savana Redding was carrying prescription-strength drugs on campus, the principal made Savana wait outside of his office for two hours, and then ordered two female school officials to strip search her. The officials asked her to take off her clothes and examined her underwear. No pills were found.

Based on Supreme Court interpretations of the U.S. Constitution in the past, school officials are given some latitude to search the property (such as a backpack or outer clothing) of a student suspected of carrying drugs or weapons due to the special need at schools to protect the health and safety of other students. But in making the student strip and in searching her undergarments, the Supreme Court ruled, the school violated the student's Fourth Amendment privacy rights because the search was unreasonable. The court suggested that the search might have been reasonable in other circumstances where illegal drugs were involved or where there was stronger evidence that the drugs were in her underwear.

The Supreme Court's decision sends the case back to the lower courts to determine what damages should be paid by the school district. The Supreme Court has also ruled that the individual officials in the case should not be liable because the law at the time of the search did not show that they had clearly violated the constitution.

About the Author

Dev Sethi

Dev Sethi litigates and tries a wide-range of complex injury and death cases throughout Arizona. He has Martindale Hubbell's highest rating, AV, and he is listed in "Best Lawyers." Dev is also recognized as an Arizona Super Lawyer in the area of plaintiff's products liability litigation.Dev has been at the forefront of auto product defect litigation. He played a key role in uncovering the Goodyear Load Range E tire scandal and worked to hold Ford Motor Company responsible for the danger posed by their now notorious 15-passenger vans. Dev is currently representing families in product liability suits against the nation's largest corporations including General Motors, Ford, Pentair Pools and Invacare.


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