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L.A.W. v. State

Supreme Court of Nevada

May 7, 2015

IN THE MATTER OF L.A.W., A MINOR. L.A.W., Appellant,
v.
THE STATE OF NEVADA, Respondent

Appeal from a district court order adjudicating the minor appellant delinquent on one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court Division, Clark County; William O. Voy, Judge.

Philip J. Kohn, Public Defender, and Jennifer A. Fraser, Deputy Public Defender, Clark County, for Appellant.

Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, Jonathan E. VanBoskerck, Chief Deputy District Attorney, and Daniel Westmeyer, Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Respondent.

BEFORE PARRAGUIRRE, SAITTA and PICKERING, JJ. We concur: Parraguirre, J., Saitta, J.

OPINION

Page 1006

PICKERING, J.;

This case presents the question of whether the State can condition a prospective minor student's access to public education on that student's waiver of his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the Federal Constitution and Article 1, § 18 of Nevada's Constitution. The State claims that the student had educational options open to him that made his consent to random searches of his person and property in order to attend public high school in Las Vegas voluntary, but the record does not support this claim. We therefore reverse and remand to the district court with instructions that the court suppress any evidence resulting from the search of the minor, and to conduct any further proceedings accordingly.

I.

Due to previous behavioral problems, the appellant, L.W., then a minor, was told he was being given a " last chance" to enroll in Legacy High School (Legacy) but only on a trial basis and on the condition that he sign a " Behavior Contract." Among other conditions, the Behavior Contract stipulated that:

The following information lists the terms and conditions upon which [L.W.'s] enrollment in Legacy High School is based[:]
. . . .

7. I realize that I am subject to random searches by school administration.

Both L.W. and his father signed the document.

The school's administration decided to conduct a search of all its trial enrollees. During the search of L.W., a Legacy teacher found $129 and a large plastic bag, containing two smaller bags with an eight-ball imprinted on them, each holding a " green, leafy substance." At the administration's direction, a campus police officer conducted a field test of the substance in one of the smaller bags, which came back positive for marijuana. The officer advised L.W. of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), and, after questioning him, placed the boy under arrest.

The State charged L.W. with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. At a contested hearing on the charges against him, L.W. objected to the admission of evidence resulting from the search in question--specifically, testimony by the searching teacher and the campus police officer describing the fruits of the search, including statements that L.W. allegedly made explaining how he came to be holding the cash and baggies--but the Hearing Master declined to suppress on the grounds that L.W. had consented to the search via the Behavior Contract. Ultimately, the Hearing Master found that the " green leafy substance" was marijuana, that L.W. carried it with the intent to sell, and judged him guilty of the ...


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