Georgia Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure Law

In State v. Young, 234 Ga. 488 (216 SE2d 586) (1975), our Supreme Court noted that in applying Fourth Amendment search and seizure law, and the associated exclusionary rule, in a public school setting, three groups of actors exist: private individuals; governmental agents whose conduct constitutes state action covered by the Fourth Amendment; and law enforcement personnel who are governed by both the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule. Id. at 493 (2). With reference to searches by private persons, there is no Fourth Amendment prohibition and therefore no occasion for applying the exclusionary rule. The third group, law enforcement officers, of course, are bound by the full panoply of Fourth Amendment rights and are subject to the application of the exclusionary rule. But the intermediate group, including public school officials, plainly are state officers whose action is state action bringing the Fourth Amendment into play; but they are not state law enforcement officials, with respect to whom the exclusionary rule is applied. Under State v. Young, supra, 234 Ga. at 488, if the school official acts without law enforcement involvement, the exclusionary rule does not apply, even if the official's conduct violates the Fourth Amendment. The violation results not in evidence suppression, but in some other remedy afforded by law, such as a civil damages claim. If police personnel become involved in the school action, however, a Fourth Amendment violation results in exclusion of the evidence. And for purposes of Young, a police officer assigned to work at a school as a school resource officer should be considered a law enforcement officer, not a school official.