Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure – Iowa v. Mar’Yo D. Lindsey Jr. — From the Iowa Supreme Court (August 2016 School Leader Update)
The Iowa Supreme Court recently upheld the conviction of an Iowa high school student for possession of a firearm as a felon, carrying weapons on school grounds, going armed with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a controlled substance.
The Defendant, Mar’Yo D. Lindsey (“Lindsey”), was an Iowa high school football player who sustained a serious injury during a football game. The school superintendent called the paramedics to take Lindsey to the hospital. Lindsey was concerned about his equipment bag and requested that a friend take his bag. After Lindsey was transported he asked the superintendent again about the bag. This raised “red flags” for the superintendent who advised the coach to take custody of the bag. Later at the school the superintendent searched the bag and located a loaded firearm and some drug paraphernalia. Police were contacted and Lindsey was charged.
Lindsey moved to suppress the evidence alleging that the search by school officials was unconstitutional. The motion to suppress was denied by the district court and Lindsey was convicted and sentenced. On appeal the Iowa Court of Appeals applied the reasonable grounds to search test and found that Lindsey had a lesser expectation of privacy in a school-issued equipment bag. Furthermore, Lindsey’s prior criminal history and preoccupation with the bag while facing a serious injury would lead a reasonable person to conclude the bag contained something illicit. As such, the court found the search reasonable.
Take away for school administrators: When coming across a search-and-seizure issue, remember the test is one of reasonableness to search. For more information, click on Search & Seizure: Top 10 Things to Know. Always consult your district’s legal counsel on these issues.
For a full text of the decision, click on State of Iowa vs. Mar'Yo D. Lindsey Jr.