RECENT CASE: 42 U.S.C. 1983 - Qualified Immunity - Eleventh Circuit Finds Students' Fourth Amendment Rights Not "Clearly Established." - Jenkins v. Talladega City Board of Education, 115 F.3d 821 (11th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 412 (1997). Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) The Harvard Law Review Association 1998.
Harvard Law Review

RECENT CASE: 42 U.S.C. 1983 - Qualified Immunity - Eleventh Circuit Finds Students' Fourth Amendment Rights Not "Clearly Established." - Jenkins v. Talladega City Board of Education, 115 F.3d 821 (11th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 412 (1997).

March, 1998

111 Harv. L. Rev. 1341

Excerpt



The Supreme Court has fashioned the "clearly established" test for deciding whether a public official should receive qualified immunity from suits that stem from a discretionary exercise of authority: liability attaches only if a reasonable official under similar circumstances would have known that the action violated a "clearly established" constitutional or statutory right. 1 In United States v. Lanier, 2 the Court provided lower courts with additional guidance on the application of the clearly established test to a right arising from a general rule. 3 In Jenkins v. Talladega City Board of Education, 4 the first case to consider such a right after Lanier, the Eleventh Circuit misinterpreted relevant Supreme Court precedent expounding the clearly established test and failed to effectuate the Supreme Court's intent to protect students from unreasonable searches in schools.

On May 1, 1992, second-grade students in Talladega, Alabama, accused their classmates, eight-year-olds C. Jenkins and O. McKenzie, of stealing seven dollars from another student. 5 After their teacher unsuccessfully searched McKenzie's backpack and both students' shoes and socks, two other faculty members ordered the girls to undress in a bathroom and then submit to a visual examination. 6 The educators then subjected the girls to a second strip search after further efforts to locate the money failed. 7

Jenkins and McKenzie sued the two school officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for strip searching them in violation of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. 8 A federal district court in Alabama entered summary judgment for the ...
 
 
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