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People in Interest of J.G.

2024 CO 16. No. 22SC549. Searches and Seizures—Students—Reasonable Suspicion.

March 25, 2024

In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether the Fourth Amendment and Article II, § 7 of the Colorado Constitution are offended when a high school student’s backpack is searched for weapons in accordance with a preexisting safety plan.

J.G.’s school instituted a safety plan that required daily searches of his person and belongings. There was a brief lapse in enforcement of the plan at the beginning of J.G.’ s 10th grade year, but on the third day of school J.G. was searched and administrators discovered a loaded handgun in his backpack. In the court proceedings that followed, J.G. argued that the warrantless search of his backpack violated his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Court held that the two-part reasonableness inquiry laid out in New Jersey  v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 341 (1985),  applies to a search of a student conducted on school grounds in accordance with an individualized, weapons-related safety plan. Applying that test, the Court held that the search of J.G.’s backpack was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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