Main content

New Jersey v. T.L.O.

Apply the New Jersey v. T.L.O. school backpack search case to a contemporary high school scenario. Does the Fourth Amendment protect underage students who bring illegal e-cigarettes to school in their backpack?

What’s Different About This Activity?
  • Teaches a Landmark Case and Makes It Relevant
  • Incorporates the Teen Vaping Craze
  • Ready in 30 Minutes
  • Involves Every Learning Style
  • Centerpiece is Jury Deliberations

How to Use These Resources

  1. Start Here. The Activity Download is the place to find the web resources formatted as courtroom- and classroom-ready handouts that can be mixed and matched.
  2. Modify. Choose from the optional civil discourse activities that can be incorporated into the agenda.
  3. Read. Participants read the facts and case summary
    They also read the fictional scenario about an underage student whose backpack is searched at school and illegal e-cigarettes are found.
  4. Analyze. Student attorneys are assigned to two sides of the case and the issues listed in the talking points.
  5. Deliberate. All other students are jurors who deliberate in a courtroom fishbowl activity. The judge, volunteer attorneys, and student attorneys observe as the jurors deliberate in a large group or smaller groups. Due to time constraints, the verdict doesn’t have to be unanimous.
  6. Reflect. Students can respond verbally or in writing to the discussion questions.

About New Jersey v. T.L.O.

Although New Jersey v. T.L.O. was decided in 1985, it still has an impact on every student who brings a purse or backpack to school.

The landmark case involved a high school girl who, because she was a juvenile at the time, was referred to in court and in court records by her initials – T.L.O. When she denied an allegation that she was smoking in the restroom, a school official searched her purse and found cigarettes and marijuana paraphernalia.

DISCLAIMER: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for educational purposes only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on any pending case or legislation.