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Law School Case Brief

In re Gregory M. - 82 N.Y.2d 588, 606 N.Y.S.2d 579, 627 N.E.2d 500 (1993)


Searches by school authorities of the persons or belongings of students may be made upon reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school


The juvenile attempted to enter the school without proper identification and was instructed to leave his cloth book bag with a security officer while he obtained proper identification. The book bag made a loud metallic noise when the juvenile threw it down on a metal shelf. Because the noise was unusual the officer ran his finger over the surface of the bottom of the bag and felt the outline of a gun.The Family Court for Bronx County (New York) denied the juvenile's motion to suppress the gun, and entered a fact-finding order that the juvenile had committed acts which, if committed by an adult, would have constituted the crimes of criminal possession of a weapon in the third and fourth degrees, defacement of a weapon, and unlawful possession of a weapon, and adjudicated the juvenile to be delinquent. The court granted the juvenile permission to appeal.


Did the trial court err when it  denied the juvenile's motion to suppress the gun?




On review, the court found that although minimally intrusive, the purposeful touching of the outside of the book bag fell marginally within a search for constitutional purposes. The court noted that the Fourth Amendment applied to students but also found that a balancing was necessary between those constitutional expectations of privacy and the government's need for effective methods to deal with breaches of public order.

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