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Court recognizes broader grant of immunity for warrantless searches on entering detention facility

In T.S. v. Doe, the plaintiff juveniles brought legal action against the guards who strip-searched them, without probable cause, after they were arrested for underage drinking.  The juveniles relied upon a higher court decision that had held that it was a violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures to conduct warrantless searches of children picked up for non-violent offenses.

The Sixth Circuit reversed the trial court's failure to grant the officers immunity. When the officers appealed, the Sixth Circuit judges pointed to a more recent decision that undercut the foundation of the juveniles' argument.  In the more recent case, the high court upheld the right of officers to conduct pre-detention suspicionless strip searches on intake of all individuals.  The Court concluded that while it previously appeared that the officers' conduct was illegal, they acted within their rights, and were entitled to qualified immunity, because they likely recognized that the prior decision prohibiting suspicionless pre-detention searches was no longer the law of the land and anticipated the application of the new ruling to juveniles.

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