New Jersey V. TLO Maddie Adler

Background Information
January 15, 1980, Two female students in New Jersey at Piscataway High School were found smoking cigarettes in a bathroom at school. They got sent to the principals office because this was a vioation to school rules. The vice principal, Theodore Choplick talked to the two girls. One of the girls was T.L.O, she was a 14 year old freshman who claimed that she did not smoke at all. Choplick told T.L.O to empty out her purse. He found cigarettes as well as rolling paper which is used to smoke marijuana, because of this he decided to do a deeper search in her purse. He found: a little bit of marijuana, a pipe, empty plastic bags, a huge amount of money in one-dollar bills, a list of students who owed her money, and letters that said T.L.O was dealing marijuana.


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Constitutional/Significance of this case
T.L.O tried to get the evidence from her purse taken away, saying that the school violated the Fourth Amendment, search and siezure. She also claimed they did an unlawful search. T.L.O went to juvenile court and they declined her Fourth Amendment arguments. It turns out that a school official can search a student if there is reasonable suspician or if the school believes they need to enforce school policies. T.L.O appealed her conviction and the juvenile court determained that there is a chance the Fifth Amendment was violated.


Decision/Precedent set by this case

In January 1982, T.L.O was sentenced to one year probation in the state of New Jersey due to possesion. In 1983, the United States Supreme Court allowed New Jersey's petition for certiorari, in 1985, the Court ruled 6-3 and granted this decision. Justice White wrote the Courts opinion. In the 1990s, this decision was used a number of times in Supreme Court cases to allow the use of metal detectors and protective searches in school. The Court also uses it for airport searches and scanning highways for drunk drivers.




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