KY. ATTN. GEN. CONWAY SEEK U.S. SUPREME COURT APPEAL ISSUE OF STUDENTS MIRANDA RIGHTS

Attorney General Jack Conway and his Office of Criminal Appeals have asked the United States Supreme Court to review the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision in the case of N.C. A Child Under Eighteen v. Commonwealth. In the April 25, 2013 decision, the state Supreme Court held that students must be read their Miranda rights when questioned by a school administrator in the presence of a school resource officer when criminal activity might be discovered. The Attorney General’s Office sent the Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 23, 2013.

In 2009, after a Nelson County High School teacher found a prescription pill bottle for hydrocodone in the boys’ bathroom belonging to a student, a juvenile referred to as “N.C.,” the school’s assistant principal questioned “N.C.” about the incident in the presence of the school resource officer. “N.C” told the assistant principal he had given some of the hydrocodone to another student, which resulted in his expulsion from school and charges of possession and distribution of a controlled substance in Nelson County Juvenile Court.

On April 25, 2013, the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed two lower court rulings in Nelson District and Circuit Courts holding that N.C. was not in custody for Miranda purposes, and therefore, there was no requirement that he be read his rights. The Kentucky Court of Appeals denied discretionary review of the matter.

The Office of the Attorney General is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision for the following reasons:

• State appellate courts are divided over this issue. States that hold Miranda warnings are required include Georgia, North Carolina, and now Kentucky. States that hold Miranda warnings are not required include South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, New York, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

• The issue presented is recurring and important as the use of law enforcement officers as a resource in the school setting has become widespread over the last 20 years.

• The Attorney General’s Office maintains that the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision was in error and that school administrators are not required to advise students of their Miranda rights, merely because a school resource officer may be present, when they are investigating school-related issues.

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