Supreme Court declines to address school interrogation issue

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Camreta v. Greene, in which an Oregon policeman and a state child protection worker interrogated a nine-year-old girl in her public school for over an hour, not stopping until she was willing to say (untruthfully, according to her) that her father had acted inappropriately toward her sexually.  CIR had filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that her detention and interrogation violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because the officials acted on mere suspicion of the father and lacked a warrant.

Unfortunately, the Court did not reach this constitutional issue, instead holding that the case was now moot because even if the officials had violated the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights, she since had moved to Florida and was near her eighteenth birthday, and thus could no longer be subjected to such detentions in a state within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After today’s ruling, resolution of whether it violates the Fourth Amendment for public officials to detain and interrogate school children based on mere suspicion of parental wrongdoing awaits another case with similar facts.

Amicus brief filed supporting the mother of a child who was seized at school without parental consent in a suit against a social worker and county sheriff.

Case Status: Vacated and remanded. The case was moot because the child was nearly 18 and had moved, and the appropriate disposition was to vacate the part of the court of appeals' opinion that addressed the Fourth Amendment issue.

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