Scott Jaschik reports:
A Massachusetts appeals court ruled Wednesday that Boston College police officers acted legally when they searched the dormitory room of two students without a warrant. The search, prompted by reports that the students had weapons in the room, found weapons — which were legal, but violated college rules — and also drugs, which led to indictments against the two students who lived in the room.
A judge initially threw out the indictments, finding that the college police officers didn’t have a right to be in the room, and that they thus didn’t have the right to conduct the search (even though they had asked permission to do so). But the appeals court found that the search was legitimate. First, the court ruled that since Boston College’s policies clearly ban the weapons, and the police officers were acting on a legitimate report about weapons, they had every right to enforce the college’s rules.
Since the authorities were in the room legally, they also had the right to seek permission to search the premises, the appeals court ruled. The judges rejected the argument by the students that the college, by not telling them that they didn’t have to consent to a search at that moment, made them think they had no choice
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