660 S.W.2d 552 (Tex.App. - San Antonio 1983), 16921, R.C.M. v. State

Docket Nº:16921.
Citation:660 S.W.2d 552
Party Name:In re R.C.M., a Juvenile, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
Case Date:July 29, 1983
Court:Court of Appeals of Texas

Page 552

660 S.W.2d 552 (Tex.App. —San Antonio 1983)

In re R.C.M., a Juvenile, Appellant,


The STATE of Texas, Appellee.

No. 16921.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

July 29, 1983

Rehearing Denied Oct. 24, 1983.

Page 553

Catherine Quinones, San Antonio, for appellant.

Bill White, Dist. Atty., Peter Sakai, Asst. Dist. Atty., San Antonio, for appellee.



TIJERINA, Justice.

This is an appeal from a jury determination that appellant, a juvenile, had engaged in delinquent conduct. The trial court placed appellant on probation for one year in the care, custody and control of his mother, whereupon he appealed.

The issues raised by appellant's two points of error concern the validity of a search and seizure by school officials and a claim of insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict.

The occurrence took place at Burbank High School on "test day" for mid-term exams. In accordance with school policy students were to be in a classroom taking a test or in the auditorium, or if exempt from taking all tests, at home. Appellant received several warnings to stay in the auditorium or leave the campus; however, after he was found roaming the hallways, he was taken to the vice-principal's office. Appellant testified at a pre-trial hearing that he was using the restroom when the vice-principal came in and asked him to go to the office. The vice-principal, and the school security guard who was in the office with appellant, testified that appellant paced about the office and was belligerent, and that he had red eyes and was very erratic. Appellant's version of the facts asserts that the vice-principal told him that if he did not empty his pockets the police would be called to search him. Appellant refused to empty his pockets, and the vice-principal said he was going to call the police and left the room for about three minutes. Appellant then took out of his pocket a marijuana cigarette and gave it to the security guard.

The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution is enforceable against the states through the 14th Amendment, and by its provisions illegally seized evidence is rendered inadmissible in a state court. Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23, 83 S.Ct. 1623, 10 L.Ed.2d 726 (1963); Taylor v. State, 421 S.W.2d 403, 406 (Tex.Cr.App.1967), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 916, 89 S.Ct. 241, 21 L.Ed.2d 201 (1968). The 14th Amendment and the Bill of Rights protect minors as well as adults, and a minor has the same constitutional right to be secure in his person from all unreasonable seizures as has an adult. In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 1428, 18 L.Ed.2d 527 (1967), Ciulla v. State, 434 S.W.2d 948, 950 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1968, no writ). In order for a search to be illegal under the 4th and 14th Amendments, the search must be the result of state action by and through state agents acting under governmental authority, or under the color of authority. See Burdeau v. McDowell, 256 U.S. 465, 41 S.Ct. 574, 65 L.Ed. 1048 (1921).

The vice-principal and the school security guard detained appellant and obtained the evidence without regard to his rights; however, their participation cannot be construed as governmental action in view of the undisturbed ruling in Mercer v. State, 450 S.W.2d 715 (Tex.Civ.App.--Austin 1970, error dism'd as moot). In Mercer, supra, the principal had information that appellant was in possession of marijuana. Appellant was brought to his office and directed to empty his pockets. Appellant hesitated, but after being told his father would be called, he complied and produced the marijuana. The court concluded that the principal acted in loco parentis, not as an arm of the government, when he demanded

Page 554

that the youth disclose the contents of his pockets. Id. at 717. The court expressed its reasoning as follows: "It does not seem to be outside the purposes of discipline in a system of education for the principal of a public school to discover and bring under control drugs considered dangerous under law and possession which is made an offense by law. The same procedure employed by the principal, if used by the boy's father, would not violate security of appellant under the Fourth Amendment." Id. In a subsequent similar case Ranniger v. State, 460 S.W.2d 181 (Tex.Civ.App.--Beaumont 1970, no writ) the court followed the Mercer decision finding that a high school principal who compelled a student to empty his pockets when brought to the office for violating school policy, acted in loco parentis. The LSD discovered as a result of such "search" was properly admissible in evidence, since the school principal stood in the place or stead of the parent and was charged with the parent's duties, rights and responsibilities. Ranniger v. State, supra at 183.

There does appear that a surfacing erosion of the rather harsh in loco parentis doctrine is evident. In In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970), the United States Supreme Court ruled that the essentials of due process and fair treatment require states to prove delinquent conduct beyond a reasonable doubt." More recently in In the Matter of S.J.C., 533 S.W.2d 746 (Tex.1976), a divided Supreme Court did not find a...

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11 practice notes
9 cases
  • 816 S.W.2d 750 (Tex.Crim.App. 1991), 053-84, Vasquez v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • October 2, 1991
    ...767 S.W.2d 789 (Tex.Cr.App.1989) (constitutional probable cause requirements apply fully to juvenile arrest). In re R.C.M. v. State, 660 S.W.2d 552, at 553 (Tex.App.--San Antonio 1983), refused n.r.e. As with those constitutional rights, so also Article 14.04, V.A.C.C.P., like the three Pag......
  • 711 S.W.2d 403 (Tex.App. - Beaumont 1986), 09-85-153, Lanes v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals of Texas
    • May 28, 1986
    ...Woods v. State, 466 S.W.2d 741 (Tex.Crim.App.1971). A minor has the same right to be secure in his person as an adult. See In re R.C.M., 660 S.W.2d 552 (Tex.App.--San Antonio 1983, writ ref'd n.r.e.); Ciulla v. State, 434 S.W.2d 948 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1968, no writ); Contine......
  • 470 F.Supp.2d 897 (S.D.Ill. 2007), Civ. 05-297, Wilson ex rel. Adams v. Cahokia School Dist. #'187
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit Southern District of Illinois
    • January 19, 2007
    ...... their authority is ... not subject to the limits of the Fourth Amendment." Id. at 336, 105 S.Ct. 733 (citing R.C.M. v. State, 660 S.W.2d 552 (Tex.App.1983)). Importantly, although the T.L. O. Court found that the Fourth Amendment applies to searches of students by school officials,......
  • 694 P.2d 1078 (Wash. 1985), 49873-3, Kuehn v. Renton School Dist. No. 403
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court of Washington
    • January 11, 1985
    ...F.2d 588 (2d Cir.1979); Tarter v. Raybuck, 556 F.Supp. 625 (N.D. Ohio 1983), aff'd in part, 742 F.2d 977 (6th Cir.1984); R.C.M. v. State, 660 S.W.2d 552 (Tex.App.1983); Jones v. Latexo Indep. Sch. Dist., 499 F.Supp. 223 (E.D. Tex. 1980); Collier v. Miller, 414 F.Supp. 1357 (S.D.Tex.1976); L......
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