Weekly News Round-up: August 6, 2012

“Reasonable suspicion” vs. probable cause in schools. A Washington Supreme Court decision overturned a school resource officer’s inspection of a student’s backpack. Although school administrators only need a “reasonable suspicion” to search students, school resource officers are law enforcement officials who still need probable cause to conduct a search. The “reasonable suspicion” standard for school personnel was established in 1985 by the U.S. Supreme Court in their New Jersey v. T.L.O. decision. Education Week has more.

Two Texas students arrested for making fake Facebook page for classmate. The girls responsible for creating the page were 12 and 13 years old. They were charged with online impersonation, a third degree felony. The act the girls committed was horrendous and they should be punished for the emotional damage they caused the victim, but the girls spent 9 days in a juvenile detention facility after being charged. Is charging these girls with a felony truly in their best interest? The victim’s best interest? Society’s best interest? ABA Journal has more.

KIDSCOUNT Data Center

2012 Kids Count Report released. The annual survey is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and compiles statistics on┬áhealth, education, and poverty issues affecting children. Patrick McCarthy, President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said the report showed “signs of hope” for millions of American families.

The report found a 20% decrease in the number of children without health insurance, more students are attending preschool, students have made impressive gains in reading and math, and graduation rates have improved slightly. A Texas specific report is available too. Christian Science Monitor has more.

Iowa Governor among the first to pardon teen murderers after Alabama v. Miller decision. Governor Branstad pardoned 38 teens convicted of murder and sentenced to mandatory life sentences without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court last month held mandatory life sentences without a chance of parole for juvenile offenders violated the 8th Amendment. Read more on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Harris County, Texas indigent defense costs declining. Although costs increased 142% over the past decade, they declined slightly in 2011. The decrease may be attributed to the Harris County Public Defender’s office opening last year. Grits for Breakfast and Off the Kuff have more.

Alex Hunt

About Alex Hunt

Alex Hunt is a former Yale & Irene Rosenberg Graduate Fellow at the Center for Children, Law & Policy. Alex graduated from the University of Texas in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in government. Before entering law school, he taught middle school math at YES Prep Southwest in Houston with Teach For America. In 2010, he received New Leaders' EPIC Spotlight Teacher Award, a national award for teachers with outstanding student growth. Alex graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in May 2013. During law school, Alex was Casenotes & Comments Editor for the Houston Journal of International Law, interned for both state and federal judges, and served as Vice President of the Health Law Organization (HLO). In addition, Alex has received the Irving J. Weiner Memorial Scholarship Award (for a year of outstanding work in the UH Law Center Legal Clinic), the Napoleon Beazley Defender Award (for outstanding work on behalf of children), the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award, the Mont P. Hoyt Memorial Writing Award for an Outstanding Comment on a Topic in International Law, and he was a finalist for Texas Access to Justice's Law Student Pro Bono Award. Alex is currently in private family law practice with the Hunt Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Katy, Texas.

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