Deputy who tried to “Prove a Point” by Arresting 7th Grade Girls Violated 4th Amendment

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal recently found that a San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy violated the Fourth Amendment when he arrested a group of girls in order to make them “mature a lot faster.”

The Central District of California’s Chief Judge Virginia Phillips originally granted the plaintiff’s summary judgment. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jacqueline Nguyen upheld Philip’s ruling in the civil rights action.

The deputy who arrested the girls, Luis Oritz, had been brought in by the school’s resource officer to counsel a group of girls about suspected acts of bullying. Apparently, Ortiz became frustrated with the girls’ lack of respect and decided that arresting all of them (suspected bullies and victims alike) was “a good opportunity for me to prove a point and make you guys mature a lot faster.”

Ortiz cited the girls for violating Penal Code § 415 (disturbing the peace). Judge Nguyen upheld the original ruling stating that school grounds are covered by § 415.5. She went on to explain that even if Oritiz had been correct about the Penal Code, he still “lacked probable cause.” Nguyen went on to say that Oritiz was also not entitled to qualified immunity.

She used New Jersey v. T.L.O.’s two-pronged test to determine whether the deputy was entitled to qualified immunity. Under the two-pronged test the search or seizure must be reasonable and justified at its inception, and it must be of a reasonably justified scope.

Judge Nguyen went on to say that “the arrest of a middle schooler, however, cannot be justified as a scare tactic, a lesson in maturity, or a chastisement for perceived disrespect.”

The original Met News article can be found here.

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