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Farah & Farah June 2013 Newsletter

Posted on June 3, 2013

School Officials Violate Students Civil Rights by Reading Text Messages

A recent Federal Court ruled that school officials violated a student’s Fourth Amendment rights when they read his text messages on his cell phone after the cell phone was confiscated from the student. The student was caught sending text messages in class in violation of school policy and based on some previous conduct that he had been involved in at school, he was expelled from school. The student sued the school district stating he was entitled to reinstatement and sought damages for his violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The court ruled that even though the student had a prior history of drug abuse and other issues, that it was not sufficient evidence to allow the school officials to read the text messages and that the standard should be that in order for the school to read the students text messages the officials must have a reasonable suspicion that the student was engaging in some sort of unlawful activity or that he was contemplating injuring himself or another student; since this was not the case it was improper to access and read his text messages. The bottom line is a public school violates policy with it comes to texting and sending messages that the school, without some other reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, would not be allowed to read those text messages. Any evidence gathered from reading text messages that were obtained in violation of the students Fourth Amendment rights are inadmissible.

FDA Issues New Warning for Anti-Bacterial Drug

The Food and Drug Administration has warned that azithromycin, a drug used to treat bacterial infections, can cause abnormal and even fatal heart rhythms. Zithromax or Zmax, which is available in a tablet or liquid form and commonly known as a “ZPack”, is typically taken over a three day period for infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat and reproductive organs. To quote the FDA, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning the public that azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax) can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm.” The FDA also stated that, Healthcare professionals should consider the risk of fatal heart rhythms with azithromycin when considering treatment options for patients who are already at risk for cardiovascular events.” This action, after it looked at two studies which showed a cause for concern. The first study, published in May 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the risks of cardiovascular death in patients treated with various anti-bacterial drugs and no anti-bacterial drug. The study reported the increase in cardiovascular death by those taking Zithromax. There is another more recent study that the risk of death from heart disease in the first 5 days of using a ZPack is 2.5% higher when compared to other antibiotics.

Police Searching Through Trash Violates Fourth Amendment

The Supreme Court of Kentucky has ruled that police violated the Fourth Amendment when they entered a drug suspect’s property and searched closed trash containers located near his home. The suspect lives in a single family townhouse, police had been conducting surveillance of the residence based on a tip that the suspect was selling methamphetamine. Police then entered the suspect’s property to take trash bags from closed trash containers located near his home. They then discovered plastic baggies containing methamphetamine residue, it was based on this evidence that the police obtained a search warrant. The defendant argued a motion to suppress the evidence of the drug operation that the police found when they searched his trash. The state argued that the trash search was Constitutional because the suspect’s trash was unenclosed and was in an area open in the street, but the Court held that the search and taking of the trash violated the defendant’s reasonable expectation of privacy because the trash containers were within the fence surrounding the house. All the police had to do was wait until the trash was placed for pick up and if they do enter a property to pull the trash they need to determine that the trash cans are not within that protected area of the home. Even when it comes to trash in your yard, the Constitution holds that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy because the trash is on your property.