Teen’s Pen Knife Lands Him in Jail for 13 Days, And What’s Worse —

…his plans for the future could be DOA. According to David ryndyzbtsy
Lohr in the Huffington Post

A high school senior in Ohio is facing felony charges after officials at the technical school he was attending for firefighter training searched his vehicle and found a pocketknife. The young man’s future and his dreams of serving the public are now in jeopardy.

“If I am convicted of a felony, I’m never going to be a police officer. I’m never going to be a fireman. I’m never going to be in the military,” Jordan Wiser told The Huffington Post. “I won’t even be able to be a janitor. I’m 18 years old, and this is going to ruin my entire life.”

Read more about the case in the Star Beacon,  The Daily Caller, and at 19 Action News, which filed the report below. Note that at the end the reporter seems to feel he must soften the idea that the prosecutor — who said he is simply enforcing the school’s zero tolerance policy —  is an evil jerk.

I doubt anyone will be swayed. – L.
19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

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75 Responses to Teen’s Pen Knife Lands Him in Jail for 13 Days, And What’s Worse —

  1. Ben March 12, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    He’s training to work with the jaws of life and he’s supposed to cut the clothes of a victim with scissors, but he’s put in jail for owning (not even handling) a knife?

    If the school has a zero tolerance policy, enforce it. Suspend the guy for a couple of days, but unless he wilfully injured someone, no jail time or conviction is necessary.

  2. TaraK March 12, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    Number one, why were the school officials going through his car?

    Number two, this is another example of why zero tolerance makes zero sense.

  3. marie March 12, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Felony gun charge?? For a pocketknife? IN HIS CAR? And the prosecutor, smug bastard, is keeping people safe. The school? Well, they have a zero tolerance policy, so all they can do is shrug. Can’t be helped because, you know…zero tolerance.

    One article said his car was searched because cops heard about or saw the guy’s YouTube videos in which he demonstrates self defense methods. Wiser granted them permission to search his vehicle. The article also said the cops also found a pellet gun in the car, so maybe that’s why it is a gun charge?

    Could we please add one more very important, very easy lesson to the curriculum for all schools: teach kids NEVER EVER to allow a search of their person or their vehicle. No matter how safe they feel. With a zero tolerance policy keeping the public safe, the students are most definitely NOT safe.

    Jury nullification is the way to go on this one. That, and tar and feathers.

  4. BL March 12, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    “Most curiously of all, he was told to have no further contact with his grandfather, who is dying of cancer.”


    Is this just plain evil for the sake of being evil?

    I can’t think of another explanation.

  5. marie March 12, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    From the Daily Caller article:
    Prosecutors aren’t backing down, however.

    “We charge [people] with everything that we feel they are guilty of, and in this case, he is guilty of a felony,” said Ashtabula County assistant prosecutor Harold Specht in a statement.

    As a condition of his release from jail, he was given an ankle monitor and ordered to remove all weapons from his house. Most curiously of all, he was told to have no further contact with his grandfather, who is dying of cancer.

    “The one judge I went in front of told me to remove any firearms from my parents’ house and put them at my grandpa’s house,” said Wiser. “The next judge freaked out about me even knowing what a gun is and put a no contact order against me and my grandparents. My grandfather is dying right now, and I am not allowed within 500 feet of him.”

    Is he not allowed near his grandfather because that’s where his firearms are stored?

    This is evil, of course. Evil for the sake of following rules.

    And we wonder how the Germans let all of those extermination camps happen.

  6. marie March 12, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Evidently I didn’t set the italics right in my previous post. I was quoting from the article, starting with “prosecutors aren’t backing down…” and ending with “…within 500 feet of him.”

  7. lollipoplover March 12, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    A pocket knife is a tool not a weapon (which is why he stored with his EMT kit). And unless they had a warrant, how can they just search a student’s car? I hope this gets thrown out immediately.

    So I guess the next course of action for the principal enforcing zero tolerance at this technical school is to eliminate all *weapons* on campus and in parking lots to keep everyone safe. No more exacto knives, nail guns, hammers, or any power tools.

    Maybe he should be principal of a beauty school instead.

  8. BL March 12, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    “the prosecutor — who said he is simply enforcing the school’s zero tolerance policy”

    There’s something like this in one of the newspaper articles, too.

    Since when does school policy have the force of criminal law?

    Can anybody make a “policy” and declare its violation to be a felony? Suppose it’s my policy that the neighbor’s dog can’t poop on my lawn – can I have that prosecuted as a felony?

  9. Emily March 12, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    >>Maybe he should be principal of a beauty school instead.<<

    No, beauty schools have scissors.

  10. Warren March 12, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    I would like to know what they class as a weapon.

    I know kids in my daughters high school that have lockblade knives on their belt, pretty much identical to the one I carry all the time.

    Open the trunk of any car and you can find all sorts of weapons….hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, tire irons, hockey sticks, baseball bats and so on. Hell, back in the day baseball bats were the weapon of choice for mafia enforcers, because they were deadly and completely legal to carry.

    Lesson here, when asked if they can search your vehicle, tell them to go to hell.

  11. Lark March 12, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    I bet there’s something else going on here – the kid or the kid’s family is on the bad side of the prosecutor or one of the prosecutor’s friends, the principal doesn’t like the kid for some reason, the kid has challenged teachers about something, maybe the kid is friends with someone the principal really doesn’t like…and they’re using this as a chance to screw him as hard as they can. Whenever I see something like this in a small town, I always suspect that there’s some kind of cronyism or score-settling going on, and it’s very hard to prove or stop. Poor kid.

  12. Earth.W March 12, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    Bit like charging a butcher for carrying dangerous knives, isn’t it?

  13. Stacey March 12, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    This is key, thanks BL, ” Since when does school policy have the force of criminal law? He only violated a school policy. How does he get a felony charge. It is not illegal to carry a knife. Or an aspirin. Both against school policy I’m sure.

  14. SKL March 12, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    WHAT THE HELL. This is from my neck of the woods, a very down-to-earth farming area, where it is perfectly normal to own a gun and carry a pocketknife everywhere. That school is only attended by adults and near-adults.

    The prosecutor has lost it. He is going to be out of there so fast. And into the nearest looney bin.

  15. SKL March 12, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    OMG I used to work for that judge and my mom worked with the student’s attorney.

    The judge is the nicest guy. I think there is hope that sanity will prevail. But this is about the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.

  16. SKL March 12, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    OK, wait a second. Now they are saying he had a taser, some pellet guns, and some gun powder pellets. So it’s more than a pocket knife, though I don’t know how serious any of it is.

    Seems they searched him because they didn’t like videos he was posting on YouTube.

    He should have said no to the search. Ugh.

  17. SKL March 12, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    What was he putting on YouTube that made people nervous?

    That’s another thing to talk to our kids about. Even if it’s completely legal, be a little bit smart about “free speech,” at least until you get out of school.

    I find it strange that the judges as well as the prosecutor supposedly went all nutso. Is there a lot more to the story? Or maybe the news folks are exaggerating. Hard to know how to react to this.

  18. David D March 12, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    As someone who has seem what zero tolerance policies at school’s do, it is sad to see this case. Unfortunately, these types of cases happen all the time and don’t make headlines. Luckily, with a good lawyer he will have a short probation (diversion) period and this episode will never be on his record.

    Hopefully, parents and students will wise up and rise to the challenge of demanding changes to these policies, instead of strengthening them. Thank you, Lenore, for helping with this change.

  19. E. Simms March 12, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    First of all, there are a lot of articles out there and all I have read said that he DID NOT give permission for them to search his car.

    There is also some discussion of a photo shopped image comparing him to the Virginia Tech shooter. The prosecutor seems to think he created this image himself. Wiser claims he had nothing to do with it. It shouldn’t be that hard to trace the URL of the person who originally posted the image.

  20. Sarah C March 12, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    I agree that this seems a little over the top, unless there’s something else going on that’s not being reported in the story. Not knowing anything else about the case but what I read in the articles, it looks like they might be trying to use this section of the Ohio code, http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2923.122, that does make it a felony in some instances to ,”knowingly convey, or attempt to convey, a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance into a school safety zone.” or “knowingly possess a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone.” and they’re including the knife in the definition of a deadly weapon. In my opinion, if you’re going to start enforcing knives as part of this, you’d better warn parents and teachers and make sure the shop, tech and home ec classes have official written, in triplicate, permission for all the sharp blades in their rooms.

  21. Mark Roulo March 12, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    “I find it strange that the judges as well as the prosecutor supposedly went all nutso. Is there a lot more to the story?”

    What *might* be more to the story is that Ashtabula, Ohio (the city in which seems to be where this is all taking place) has a *very* high violent crime rate (4.5 per 1,000). This isn’t Detroit high (21.3) or Chicago high (10.1), but it matches Los Angeles (4.8).

    And Ashtabula county is pretty small-town — the largest city has a population of less than 20,000.

    And the total crime rate (property and violent) does match Chicago: “With a crime rate of 49 per one thousand residents, Ashtabula has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities.” (*)

    So … given that the violent crime rate matches large cities, the local prosecutors and judges might be just a bit more touchy. But this is just a guess.

    [And given the small size of Ashtabula, the *rate* may vary a lot from year-to-year compared to larger cities … so this might just be a statistical blip.]

    (*) http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/oh/ashtabula/crime/

  22. SKL March 12, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Yeah, I find it pretty ridiculous that at a technical school full of potentially deadly stuff, you can go to jail for having a pocket knife in a pocket of a vest in the trunk of your car.

  23. E March 12, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    @SKL, it looks like the only charge is related to the knife and not the other items. At least that’s what one of the articles stated clearly. It was listed as a 4″ knife I think.

    The whole thing is confusing because I can’t imagine every student that gets caught with the wrong thing on a school campus ends up in jail for 13 days, that kind of bail, and a felony charge.

    But I agree, there’s something else going on here. It’s either a vendetta against this kid or something about the kid that hasn’t been revealed — nothing else makes much sense.

  24. SKL March 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    The city of Ashtabula is a relatively poor city and it has its share of crime. Ashtabula County is geographically large (for this area of the country) and the vo-ed school is in the middle of it, with cornfields all around.

    If you break down the serious violent crime that does happen there, it is probably almost all domestic. One time there was a psycho teen boy in the nearby (tiny) village of Jefferson, and he shot one or two people, but that was many years ago now. It was definitely a fluke. There is even a memorial in the town center for the police dog that was killed in that incident (which, by the way, was on a quiet residential street nowhere near a school).

  25. SteveS March 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    I can’t speak for Ohio, but in many states (such as mine, Michigan), the zero tolerance laws that treat nail files the same as firearms are the result of knee jerk idiots in the legislature (and the governor) that want to appear like they are doing something.

    That being said, the prosecutor has discretion on this case and can decline to prosecute. They may have a policy that they don’t on these types of cases, but they certainly can drop the case or charge him with some lesser crime.

    This also emphasizes why you should never consent to a search.

  26. SKL March 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    To clarify, Ashtabula city (which is where those crime stats came from) is on Lake Erie, and the school in question is about 15 miles south of there. Really no comparison.

  27. lollipoplover March 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    “There are all these school occurrences where people are shot, people are killed by other students,” Specht said. “We see it every day … so we don’t take these things lightly. … We have to be sure that we don’t have a potential for something like that to happen here.”

    Said the principal.
    They see people killed by students everyday? Where is this school located in Ohio that they have such violent students?!

    The article doesn’t mention any youtube videos but most kids these days have themselves doing stupid stuff and use technology to share their idiocy. I think my son and his friends did one with a homemade catapult that doesn’t go well (so proud). I am truly grateful for my non-recorded childhood (oh, the things I did). But posting youtube videos doesn’t make him a criminal. Neither do tools like pocket knives.

    Sounds like this principal a)watches the news way too much and b)has a vendetta against this student or received a complaint about social media posts or videos. He violated Mr. Lohr’s constitutional rights with illegal search and seizure and won’t admit his mistake so he seeks to ruin this kid’s future and is not really someone who should be leading our future generation and not a principal of a technical school busting a student for a pen knife.

  28. Jason March 12, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    As many people have mentioned, I have to wonder if there is something else going on here. The bail set at $500,000 and the conditions of is release sound extreme for someone that has not even been convicted of a crime yet.

    The reporting seems so skewed as well. Describing his pellet guns as a 9MM Glock and a 6MM is very misleading. They are pellet guns. They may look realistic. While there may be rules about having them on school grounds, describing them as they did seems meant to play into the gun-fearing culture of the public at large.

    I haven’t watched the videos. If they are as they are described, videos of tactical shooting and home defense, there is absolutely no reason this should lead to a search of the students car, person, or home. Gun ownership and tactical shooting are not illegal and not an excuse for the police to harass you.

    I think the others are right. There is either some personal vendetta going on here, or some other relevant information that hasn’t been released. If this guy made a threat or posted a video about how to carry out a school shooting I could see the reaction as being more reasonable, but going on what we have, it seems ridiculous.

  29. lollipoplover March 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Sorry, I meant Mr. Wiser’s

  30. SKL March 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I don’t recall any school shooting or similar in Ashtabula County, but there was one in Chardon, Ohio not too long ago, which is not that far away. That could be why it’s a bit of a hot button.

  31. Natalie March 12, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    At least it’s getting coverage.
    These zero-tolerance policies produce ridiculous results – and there is a backlash.

  32. Donna March 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I work in a highly conservative, hard-on-crime jurisdiction and the amount of bond and conditions would be highly extreme for my area for this charge. Something else is going on here.

    As for the charges, all prosecutors don’t have the discretion that they should. Our judges will not sign dismissals or agree to take pleas to reduced charges unless the DA states that he cannot prove the original charges and gives legitimate reasons why. There is no such thing as “in the interest of justice” or “as a result of a plea bargain.” Further, even a misdemeanor conviction will derail this kid’s plans somewhat. It would probably prohibit police and fire plans, and while a misdemeanor will not usually prohibit eventually enlisting, he can’t if on probation and a weapon charge may kick him completely.

  33. E. Simms March 12, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    This is the other thing going on. They think he’s nuts and compares himself to the Virginia Tech shooter. The court ordered a mental health evaluation, which he passed.


    “On that Thursday, the School Superintendent, Dr. Jerome Brockway, had his attention called to one of these videos, along with a photo-shopped image some unknown person had created comparing Mr. Wiser to the Virginia Tech Shooter. It is unclear if Dr. Brockway incorrectly assumed Jordan had made the image himself or if he knew that was not the case and merely feels that an act of vile slander against Jordan was an excuse to further victimize him.”

    It’s really hard to know what’s really going on. We were all outraged when the high school volleyball player was suspended for picking up a friend at a party with alcohol. But it turned out she was lying and had been at the party for hours and was drinking.

  34. SteveS March 12, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    I can’t speak for Ohio, but the PA’s in Michigan have a great deal of discretion. They can decline to prosecute following the arrest. In every county I have worked in, the PA’s Office has a good relationship with the police and work together in deciding who to charge and under what circumstances they will charge. If someone is charged, then a judge has to sign off on the nolle prosequi, but I have never had a judge refuse to do so. I just had a case dismissed yesterday and the reason given was, “in the interest of justice.”

    As for plea offers, they can be harder to get. Some counties have policies in place where they won’t make offers for certain offenses, but I have still seen them step outside the policy if the facts and circumstances warranted doing something different. Yes, the court has to approve the plea, but the only times I have seen the judge refuse is if the person won’t admit guilt to the offense or there crime they are pleading to is supported by what they are admitting.

    I would be interested in knowing if there are more facts, but I am having a hard time believing that the prosecutor and the judge have no other choices.

  35. jfred March 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Is this America?

    A jackknife is a Felony? 13 Days in jail for What?

    How can a knife be a felony? No consent nor search
    warrant, how did the principal search the vehicle?

    Sick and getting sicker!

  36. John March 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    When I read things like this, it just pisses me off!!! >:-( Sometimes we can do such stupid things in this country!! Ruining a person’s life over a stupid 0 tolerance policy? And I used to critise the United Arab Emirates for putting people in jail for kissing!

  37. Papilio March 12, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Whatever happened to the idea that the punishment must fit the “crime”?
    And again, I’m all for giving people a second chance, but this kid doesn’t even get a first one! So now they think he’s planning on bringing a gun and shooting a few dozen of his fellow students? And how does *that* help his future plans to become a cop/firefighter, exactly?

    What future do you want for your country if you make it so hard for youngsters to live their lifes on the right side of the law? What’s next – sending a 12yo to prison for life after stealing a candy bar for the 3rd time (no, NOT the same one)?

  38. John March 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    I’m sorry, it’s spelled CRITICIZE. See, I’m so pissed off that I can’t even spell something simpal…err…simple!!

  39. Beth March 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    “I don’t recall any school shooting or similar in Ashtabula County, but there was one in Chardon, Ohio not too long ago, which is not that far away. That could be why it’s a bit of a hot button.”

    Even if it is a hot button, how does having a pocket knife in the car turn a kid into a school shooter? That’s a bit of a leap.

    And those who were wondering how the cops had the right to seach the car, I read one article that said the student handbook was the “warrant”. I’m guessing the handbook says something about the kids having no expectation of privacy as regards their person, belongings, locker, and car parked on school grounds. That’s how it is at our high school (Wisconsin). Lockers, vehicles, and backpacks can be searched at any time without probable cause.

  40. Warren March 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Beth was saying that the handbook allows for searches?

    How can a school policy override a constitutional right?

    Lockers I could somewhat understand as the locker itself is school property, but cars, and backpacks, no way should that be allowed.

  41. SKL March 12, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    And at least when I was young, you could enlist in the US armed forces at 17, and be authorized to handle things a lot more deadly than a pocket knife.

    It amazes me that more young people don’t drop out of school.

  42. SteveS March 12, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Regardless of what the handbook says, he still could have refused to let them search his car. It may have subjected him to some other disciplinary action, but that would seem to be preferable to what ended up happening.

    Knife laws are strange. Unlike firearms, there really aren’t a lot of groups advocating for laws that allow people to carry knives. In my state, there is a patchwork of state laws and municipal codes dealing with them. Some towns have completely banned the ability to carry any kind of knife.

  43. Andy March 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    @SKL I think the one who deserves the most blame is the prosecutor. If law enforcement allows itself to be used this way, then you have bigger problem then ridiculous school policies. Out of control justice system able is way more dangerous then anything a school can do.

    Unfortunately, you can not drop out of criminal system.

  44. Mark Roulo March 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    “Beth was saying that the handbook allows for searches?

    How can a school policy override a constitutional right?”

    Because the US Supreme Court says that under some circumstances it can. See “New Jersey v. T. L. O.” (Wkikpedia has a writeup). The school only needs probably cause … which can be pretty vague (hey, a YouTube video!).

  45. SteveS March 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    Probable cause (PC) isn’t all that vague. It is, “information sufficient to warrant a prudent person’s belief that evidence of a crime or contraband would be found in a search.” Unless the video was of him stashing weapons in his car, then it is not PC.

    The ACLU has some good videos and pamphlets on how to handle police stops and most of the advice would apply to state school officials (private schools aren’t limited by the 4th Amendment). Rule number 1 is to not consent to a search. You can tell school officials that they do not have permission to search your car and simply refuse.

  46. bmommyx2 March 12, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    This is so ridiculous. I hope the judge tosses the whole thing. Why were they even searching his car? Even if it wasn’t a tool it was in his car, he wasn’t using it for anything. What about a student who uses a parents car & they find something like that. Sending him to jail for any amount of time is absurd. We shouldn’t tolerate no-tolerance rules.

  47. bmj2k March 12, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    You would expect a technical school to know the difference between a knife that is primarily used as a tool and a knife that is primarily used as a weapon. Granted, any knife can be used as a weapon, but so can a hammer or tree branch. Zero tolerance means zero common sense.

  48. Warren March 12, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Never talk to the police, and never give permission to search.

    Nothing good can come from either.

  49. Beth March 12, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    I never said that the handbook allows for searches. I said that one of the articles about this stated that that the handbook *was* the warrant. And anecdotally, at all high schools in my personal metropolitan area (approx. 500,000 population), it is made clear to students that they have NO expectation of privacy on school grounds. The high schools conduct surprise searches, with canines, of lockers, vehicles, and backpacks, a few times during every school year.

    I was only telling what happens in my area, as a lot of commenters on this site do, and what the handbook might say to be considered on par with a warrant. I was not asserting definitively that this is what happened in this case nor did I say anything about constitutional rights.

    OKAY? Why does everything on this site have to be so confrontational now?

  50. Tsu Dho Nimh March 12, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

    “firefighter training”? GMAFB!

    That’s where you learn to use “Halligan bars”, fire axes, chain saws, “quick access’ tools, and the art of ramming through locked gates with the reinforced front of a fire truck.

    Oh – and knives like this:

  51. SOA March 12, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    Yes, let’s ruin this young man’s whole future of saving lives and doing a job that many cannot or will not do that saves all of us.

    I would think you would want a fireman to be familiar with knives. Heck don’t they train with axes?

    Why were they searching his car? Under what right did they have to do so?

  52. SOA March 12, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    Because you park the car on school property ie their parking lots, they think that means they can search it. Same for the students themselves and their purses or backpacks. Basically you walk on school property you lose all rights. Welcome to public schools. At the high schools here they block off the drives into the school and will question adults as they come in and out of the school.

    They did it to my mom one day when she was coming to pick me up or whatever and she got pissed and told them it was none of their business as she was an adult and they had no right to question her. I was subbing at one and they did not believe I was a sub because I looked young and accused me of being a student skipping class. I was livid.

    My friend once was pulled over near Atlanta by a cop for speeding or some kind of traffic violation. He was hassling her for whatever reason and wanted to search her trunk. She did not have anything illegal or to hide so she consented. So then the cop goes digging through her trunk. She was a dance studio owner and teacher. She happened to have some wigs we use in dance numbers in the trunk. He started accusing her of having wigs as “Disguises”. So even something completely innocent can be turned into something they can try to make bad. It is not against the law to carry wigs. When she explained what they were for he acted like he did not believe her.

  53. SOA March 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    Now if there was some video and they were worried it might turn into some kind of school violence, I don’t mind them looking into it. Prevention is important. But you don’t have to treat his hostile like to do so. Just talk to him, have him see the school psychologists, etc. You don’t need to try to charge him with something or attack him.

  54. EricS March 13, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    Pens, pencils, scissors, knives in the cafeteria kitchen, coat hangers. A tech school? Well, wrenches, hammer, saw, screw driver. Point being, ANYTHING can be used as a ‘weapon’. The items I just mentioned, are no different than a pocket knife. Some are even more dangerous, in the wrong hands, than a pocket knife. Hands of idiots, like the principal of that school.

    Zero tolerance because of zero common sense.

    As for the prosecutor, a small time douche trying to make a name for himself with whatever conviction he can make. Guess the stereotype about lawyers is substantiated.

  55. Anon March 13, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    In a just and fair world, the judge, prosecutor, and drafters of said policy, will all being in fiery car crashes. The firefighters will show up, recognize them, and proceed to attempt a rescue with nothing but spoons.

  56. J.T. Wenting March 13, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    “Whatever happened to the idea that the punishment must fit the “crime”?”

    remember that that’s relative. If you think that there should be a mandatory death penalty for jaywalking, that’s your definition of “the punishment should fit the crime”.

    Most likely this boy’s crime was being the wrong colour of skin or having a father who has a higher than ‘acceptable’ income.

    “I never said that the handbook allows for searches. I said that one of the articles about this stated that that the handbook *was* the warrant.”

    Which is a violation of the constitution, as there’s no “reasonable suspicion”. Unless you hold that “every one of our pupils is no doubt doing something wrong” is reasonable.

    ““firefighter training”? GMAFB!

    That’s where you learn to use “Halligan bars”, fire axes, chain saws, “quick access’ tools, and the art of ramming through locked gates with the reinforced front of a fire truck.

    If it’s like the firefighting training for children and teens here, it involves sitting around a television screen watching videos of fires, and once in a while being driven around in a firetruck and being allowed to spray a garden hose on a campfire lit by the adults.

    “In a just and fair world, the judge, prosecutor, and drafters of said policy, will all being in fiery car crashes. The firefighters will show up, recognize them, and proceed to attempt a rescue with nothing but spoons.”

    EMTs have far too much sense of duty to do that. Of course as a result of policies like this they might end up having nothing else to work with because rescue axes, chain saws, angle grinders, etc. etc. may all end up being banned as “dangerous weapons”.

  57. BL March 13, 2014 at 5:30 am #

    @Mark Roulo
    “How can a school policy override a constitutional right?

    Because the US Supreme Court says that under some circumstances it can.”

    Which is why so of us have contempt for the Supreme Court and courts in general. If constitutional rights aren’t absolute (maybe we should call them zero-tolerance policies!), what is? And creating exceptions for what? Not some nation-threatening emergency, but for parking in a school parking lot? Basically it sounds like the Constitution is null and void if it’s inconvenient for someone with any sort of petty authority.

    Maybe next they’ll suspend the 13th amendment (banning slavery) because the cotton crop is ready for harvest.

  58. SteveS March 13, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Students in public schools still have 4th Amendment protections, though not at the same level as they would in regards to other state actors. Regardless, if the individual consents to the search, they lose any ability to later challenge the search (for the most part).

    Having a policy that they can do a search or that you have a lowered expectation of privacy cannot get around the protections (minimal as they may be in this environment) of the 4th amendment, but most people have no idea that they can refuse to allow a search and consent when asked or pressured.

    School officials have several choices when confronted by a student the refuses a search. They can back down or use some type of force. What do you think is the best option for them in terms of liability? They can call the police, who are either going to be limited by the 4th amendment the same as they would in any other encounter. They could also discipline them in some other way, but at least that would not involve the criminal justice system.

  59. Jen (P.) March 13, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    ***”If it’s like the firefighting training for children and teens here, it involves sitting around a television screen watching videos of fires, and once in a while being driven around in a firetruck and being allowed to spray a garden hose on a campfire lit by the adults.”***

    Is anyone else thinking of Umbridge telling the defense against the dark arts students they don’t need to learn how to protect themselves because the ministry will take care of them? Life imitates art or the other way around?

    As far as the school’s “right” to conduct the search is concerned, this is a topic I’ve wanted to learn more about, and this case renews my interest in doing so. What I do know is that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that public school officials may conduct searches upon reasonable suspicion, which is a lesser standard than probable cause. I think random searches have been approved too.

    I mentioned this to my 14yo yesterday and she tells me her junior high school administration has made it very clear that students have no expectation of privacy in anything on school property and that their lockers and backpacks are subject to random searches at any time. She also told me a kid was expelled recently after a locker search that apparently was not random. At least the Supreme Court held that school officials went too far when they strip searched a kid looking for ibuprofen she might have given another student, so I guess we’re safe from that (sarcasm alert). I told her never to authorize anyone to search anything of hers without calling me or her dad first (which makes me wonder–can a minor even give effective consent to a search?).

    It’s easy to see how we’ve arrived at this juncture–people are terrified of school shootings, lockers are school property, the car in this case was on school property, etc. But when you can’t depend on people to exercise even a minimal amount of common sense in dealing with these issues, things spin out of control.

  60. Anon March 13, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    @J.T. Wenting

    I was being (half) facetious.

    I grew up in Miami, lives in rural Indiana, South Dakota, and now Chicagoland. It is amazing to me to see how some people think, and sometime they think poorly. In many parts of the county, a knife is a tool. That is it. Possessing one shows no malicious intent. In other parts of the country, or among people of a particular socio-political group, a knife is weapon and possessing one shows nothing but the desire to hurt people.

    This is remarkably, blindingly, maddeningly stupid. Moreover, what that teaches is that personal problem solving and resourcefulness is discouraged. I love going out shopping, and watch people try to claw, gnaw, and curse their way into heat sealed packaging. Then I offer to help with the aid of my trusty Swiss Army knife, and they act like a pulled out a bazooka.

    My religion teaches that there is no heaven and there is no hell. No one faces divine punishment for being bad or reward for being good. What I believe, is that every person should be forced to face the real and true consequences of their actions. Face the music full blast.

    These idiots are going full bore to destroy a young man’s life for carrying a tool. He showed no malicious intent with it. He simply had a modern version of the oldest tool ever crafted by human hands (the cutting edge) in his car.

    No amount of political reprimand or failing to win reelection will be the true, full consequence of their actions. I believe, deep down, to the very marrow of my bones; they will ONLY learn their lesson, when faced with imitate and painful death that can be averted with the aid of a knife, and no knife is to be found. They must face a level of destruction to their lives equivalent to that they are subjecting this young man to.

    If I had one wish, this would be the Golden Rule of the universe. Sleep in the bed that you made.

  61. Donna March 13, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Jen (P) – Yes minors can legally consent to a search. In fact, minors, at least by high school age, can consent to a search of a house in the absence of parents.

    Always teach your children, and yourself, to say no to searches in any form. Make sure you clearly state your refusal to consent. It sounds to me like this kid didn’t consent, but didn’t object either. You can’t be wishy washy. You have to state clearly “you do not have my consent to search my ____ ” and repeat it every time they move on to search something new. “You do not have my consent to search me; you do not have consent to search my car; you do not have consent to open that backpack; etc.”

    As SteveS has pointed out, the 4th amendment is greatly limited in schools. But it is extremely easy to waive your rights and I can’t do anything for you if you do. Better to make useless statements of a lack of consent when they don’t really need consent than to have me tell you there is nothing that I can do for you since you waived your rights.

    Also remember that many police and maybe even school officials will testi-lie. Speak your lack of consent clearly, firmly and loudly enough to be picked up by the police mic. Don’t mumble, shake your head or gesture. Otherwise it may change to a consent in the police report and I won’t be able to prove differently. If it catches on tape, they then may “lose” the tape, but there is only so much you can do.

    And, as I’ve said before, you should never give a statement to police without an attorney. Don’t admit anything to school officials either since they WILL report everything to the police. Tell your kids to insist that the school call their parents before they say anything and parents take tight control of the conversation. This is absolutely not the time to be independent and free range. Call mom and dad!

  62. CrazyCatLady March 13, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    Those who think he can get his record cleared and still get into the military or other classified jobs are mistaken.

    My nephew, when 14 (8th grade) and under the supposed supervision of his mother (parents divorced) went out with kids who decided to be stupid and vandalize something at a golf course. My brother paid the bill for everything even though the other parents of kids did not pay a thing. He did so because he was told that his son would not not have to go to court and the charges would be wiped from his record.

    My nephew has since moved in with his father, had great great grades, done sports and joined the ROTC with the goal of going into the Air Force like his father. He is now a senior, and went to the recruiter office recently.

    Where he was told that because he was charged with a felony (due to the amount of damage) that he was no longer eligible to join ANY branch of the military. It seems while the record can be “cleared” for civilian uses, the military, police academies and other classified jobs have access to the records.

  63. BL March 13, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Excellent advice.

    However, it goes against everything you’re ever going to be taught in school, told by police, or probably told by your parents (unless they’re defense attorneys or hard-core civil liberty advocates).

  64. Warren March 13, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    With our business and personal vehicles we have a small fleet. Every person be it family or employee are told from the beginning to never allow a search of any one of our vehicles.

    That comes directly from our lawyer. If they want to search they must get a warrant first.

    Luckily we are not at the point yet in which our schools can search cars and backpacks. Then again our kids are not confined to the campus during the day either. No police in the schools, no metal detectors, no drug dogs, so far it is still school, not prison.

  65. Donna March 13, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    BL – Most parents remember their days of when juvenile misbehavior was treated as juvenile misbehavior and not criminal matters. Sadly that is not the case anymore. I was shocked when I started doing criminal work and saw the cases that took up the bulk of juvenile court. I had a freaking bus stop fight involving 9 or 10 year olds!!

    And parents are as much to blame as the police and schools. The school suspended my bus kids from the bus for a week and didn’t involve the police. One of the mothers kept pestering the police to arrest the other kid and the police eventually charged them both. I then had to kick the mother out of my office so that I could talk to her kid and get answers from him. Case eventually dropped, but still….

    Things do seem to be swinging back in my area. Sevetal juvenile judges refuse to deal with stupid school stuff and the new juvenile code that went into effect a couple months ago makes it more difficult for schools to just kick their problems to the court system.

  66. BL March 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    “Most parents remember their days of when juvenile misbehavior was treated as juvenile misbehavior and not criminal matters”

    True, but not my point.

    The point is that no school, no police, and few parents will ever teach children they have any rights versus authority, ever.

    More likely they’re told to spill everything, lest they be suspected of “having something to hide”.

    (I’ve gotten so tired of that phrase I’ve taken to telling people “Anne Frank had nothing to hide. But she had to hide.” If they take that as an accusation that they’re Nazi-like, well, if the jackboot fits …)

  67. Papilio March 13, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    Wow – this is so much “Never admit anything!” and “Don’t trust anyone” by now, I feel like I’m reading about the DDR…

  68. Donna March 13, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    Papilio – It isn’t a matter of trust nobody. The Constitution gives us rights, but those rights aren’t worth the paper they are written on if nobody uses them. The cops are more than happy to ask you to waive them because there is no harm in asking and most Americans are apparently very willing to give up those rights stupidly. The vast majority of my clients willingly consent to searches and readily give statements incriminating themselves, sometimes even confessing to worse crimes thinking they are helping themselves. People need to start protecting their rights and stop doing the government’s job for them.

  69. SteveS March 13, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    Refusing to talk to the police without an attorney or refusing to consent to a search doesn’t imply that a person hates or doesn’t trust police. IMO, there is nothing to be gained by consenting or making a statement (without counsel) and potentially a lot to be lost.

    I do a fair amount of criminal defense. While many of those charged have done something illegal and should be held responsible, I have had some that either didn’t do anything or were grossly overcharged. I guess I am jaded, but I don’t believe that it is worth the risk just give up your right to privacy and to be free of unreasonable searches.

    Most people don’t seem to know about these protections and are not in a good position to exercise them. Most police are very good at getting consent. They keep asking and asking. Some will also lie, cajole, and otherwise try and intimidate a person into consenting. It is hard to say no.

  70. Jake March 13, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    It’s worth watching the whole 50 min.


  71. Donna March 14, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    I disagree with SteveS that people don’t know these rights or aren’t in a position to assert them. True for some, but many people just think they can out smart the police. The most common answer I get when I ask a client why he agreed to a search is that he thought if he said yes, the cop would think he had nothing and not search. The majority of statements are clearly failed attempts to lie to get themselves out of trouble.

  72. SteveS March 14, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Yes, there are people that think they are clever and can outsmart the cops, but there seem to be quite a few that believe it when police tell them that “it will be better for them if they cooperate.” The same holds true for searches. I have had clients that were told that they could allow them to search or they would just have to wait for them to get a search warrant and the judge isn’t going to be happy with them or some other similar BS. I have also had more than a few that later asked me, “the police can’t lie to me, can they?”

    Even smart people that should know better talk too much. Look at the guy in Florida that shot someone following a a dispute over talking on a cell phone in a theater. He made numerous comments, most of them in anger, none of them clever or helpful in any way. He is a retired chief of police. You would think that he would know better.

  73. SteveS March 14, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I don’t believe that most people know what they can or cannot do, nor do they know when the police can search and when they cannot. Throw in things like Terry stops and exigent circumstances and it is a lot to take in.

  74. Donna March 14, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    SteveS – I don’t expect people to know the minutia of the 4th Amendment. That is for you and I. I do think most people know the basics, particularly my clients who have been in the system since they were teens. My clients, by and large, don’t even assert their most basic rights. They are not being talked into searches; they readily agree when the police do nothing more than say in very friendly terms “hey can I look in your car.” They go to the police station themselves because they hear the police were looking for them. They get arrested and call the police to come to the jail to talk some more.

  75. NicoleK March 17, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    Erm, aren’t students at technical schools usually kids who like, you know, technical stuff and tinkering and doesn’t that usually involve tools?

    I went to art school, and all the techies carried around jackknives or leathermen or whatnot.