Monday, April 29, 2013

Kentucky Supreme Court: Students must be mirandized before being questioned

In a victory for youth and students across the Commonwealth, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued two (2) groundbreaking decisions:

Groundbreaking Kentucky Supreme Court ruling: Students must be mirandized before being questioned

In a national groundbreaking decision, a deeply divided Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that school administrators and school resource officers cannot question students without first reading the student his rights.

The high court's decision Thursday came in a case from Nelson County. The court threw out a student's confession to bringing hydrocodone to school and sharing it with a classmate. Justice Mary Noble concluded the student was not informed of the possible criminal implications of speaking with an assistant principal and school resource officer until after admitting to the offense and being arrested.

The decision sets a bright-line rule for school officials pursuing both disciplinary action as well as possible criminal charges.

Justices Bill Cunningham and Daniel Venters dissented, finding the presence of a school resource officer doesn't turn questions from administrators into an interrogation.

In another victory for youth, the Kentucky Supreme Court orders public release of child abuse records

The justices voted 3-3 on whether to grant a stay of a lower court’s order that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services open the cases. Because the court was evenly split, a previous decision by the appeals court denying the stay was upheld.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd had ruled that The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader should be allowed access to internal reviews of cases in which children died or were seriously injured from abuse or neglect.

That means the cabinet must provide case files following a protocol set out by Shepherd spelling out what information can be redacted by the cabinet and ordering the cabinet to explain each redaction.

Shepherd had ruled that previous redactions were overly broad, making it impossible to assess how effectively the cabinet did its job protecting children. Despite asking for the stay, cabinet officials have released some case files with redactions that officials describe as “minimal.”

Cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff responded to the Supreme Court decision, saying Thursday that the cabinet has never attempted to protect the names of social workers involved in the cases and has only made redactions to protect the privacy of some parties involved.