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All opinions are subject to modification and technical correction prior to official publication in the North Carolina Reports and North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports. In the event of discrepancies between the electronic version of an opinion and the
print version appearing in the North Carolina Reports and North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports, the latest print version is to be considered authoritative.
IN THE MATTERS OF: J.F.M. and T.J.B.
Filed: 18 January 2005
1. Schools and Education; Search and Seizure_-temporary detainment of student--
level of suspicion for school resource officer
The trial court did not err by denying respondent juveniles' motion to dismiss charges of
resisting, delaying, and obstructing a public officer and assault on a public officer even though
the juveniles contend a deputy, who was a school resource officer, was without legal authority to
detain one of the juveniles at the bus stop, because: (1) the deputy was acting in conjunction with
the school administrator, and the deputy intended immediately to present the minor to the
administrator in order to discuss the ramifications of her actions under the rules and policies of
the school rather than as violations of the law of North Carolina; (2) the detainment occurred
while the officer was on duty, on school premises, and close in time to his investigation; (3) the
seizure was reasonable and reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified it in
the first place when the minor was involved in an affray; (4) in light of the potential danger of
allowing the matter to carry over into another school day, the circumstances justified the minor's
temporary detainment to resolve the matter; (5) it is reasonable to infer that the minor was aware
of her own culpability as justification for the resource officer's detainment; and (6) the fact that
the minor's resistance escalated the measures the deputy employed for the purposes of such
detainment did not implicate the Fourth Amendment.
2. Arrest and Bail; Assault_-resisting, delaying, and obstructing a public officer--
assault on a government officer/employee--sufficiency of petitions
The trial court did not lack jurisdiction to adjudicate respondent juvenile a delinquent
based on the charges of resisting, delaying, and obstructing a public officer and assault on a
public officer even though respondent contends the petitions charging her were fatally deficient,
because the petitions were sufficient to apprise respondent of the specific allegations alleged
against her, including each element thereof, thus enabling her to prepare an adequate defense.
Appeal by respondents from adjudication order entered 26 June
2003 by Judge William Graham, and disposition entered 21 July 2003
by Judge Lawrence J. Fine in Forsyth County District Court. Heard
in the Court of Appeals 15 November 2004.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General
Elizabeth N. Strickland for the State's case against J.F.M.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General
Gaines M. Weaver for the State's case against T.J.B.
Joal H. Broun for respondent appellant J.F.M.
Jon W. Meyers for respondent appellant T.J.B.
Arising from the same contended facts and circumstances,
sisters J.F.M. (JM) and T.J.B. (TB) (collectively juveniles)
were adjudicated delinquent on petitions alleging resisting,
delaying, and obstructing a public officer and assault on a public
officer. Both adjudications were rendered 26 July 2003. On 21 July
2003, the juveniles' disposition orders placed each on twelve (12)
months' probation with varying terms and conditions.
The State's evidence tended to show the following: On the day
of 15 May 2003, JM was aged 15 and TB was aged 13. That day,
Deputy S.L. Barr (Deputy Barr) of the Forsyth County Sheriff's
Department, and the Kennedy Learning Center's (the Center)
resource officer, was investigating an affray involving TB and
another student. The affray occurred at around 2:00 p.m, and while
not observing the affray, Deputy Barr had observed a group of
students circled outside on the Center's grounds. Later, he saw TB
leaving the grounds and gave her three commands to stop which she
ignored. Continuing his investigation, he spoke with a school
administrator who told him that TB had been in the affray and was
Later, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Deputy Barr was leaving the
Center when he saw TB at the bus stop on the corner of Highland and
Martin Luther King Boulevard, which was on the Center's grounds. He
was still on duty. Stopping his vehicle, he approached TB and told
her that she needed to come back to the Center to talk to the
school administrator about the affray, and see whether she wasgoing to be suspended. He himself did not plan on questioning her.
TB told the Deputy, I'm not going with you anywhere, and Deputy
Barr responded by grabbing her arm and telling her she needed to
come with him. At that point, JM pushed Deputy Barr and told him
to get [his] D hands off her sister, and told [TB] to run.
Deputy Barr told JM that she was under arrest for resisting and
delaying an officer, and grabbed her arms when she tried to run.
As she struggled against his attempt to handcuff her, she bit him
on the right arm. TB returned and struck Deputy Barr with an
umbrella. He let go of JM and the two sisters ran down the street.
Deputy Barr called for assistance, and then chased after the two
girls. The two sisters were soon apprehended. The sisters were so
violent that they had to be placed in handcuffs and leg restraints
to be placed into patrol cars.
At the close of the State's evidence, the juveniles' motion
for dismissal was denied.
By way of their testimony, the juveniles' case tended to
allege the following: TB had been in a fight on 15 May 2004, and
having discussed the matter with the school administrator was
authorized to leave the Center. At the bus stop, Deputy Barr
pulled up and told TB to come with him. JM, also at the bus stop,
asked Deputy Barr, why you want her to go with you. TB told the
Deputy she was not going anywhere with him. While they began
walking away, Deputy Barr spoke on his walkie-talkie. He then
grabbed JM's hair and put his right arm around her neck. It was
then that JM bit his arm. TB began hitting him with the umbrella,
and after JM was freed, both fled. At the close of the juveniles' evidence, they again moved for
dismissal and were denied.
In their separate briefs on appeal the juveniles argue common
issues of error by the trial court, and TB raises additional
errors. The common issues are all founded on the contention that
the trial court erred in finding Deputy Barr had authority to
detain TB. TB's additional issues contend that the trial court was
without jurisdiction to hear this matter where the petitions for TB
were fatally deficient. Based on the analysis herein, we find no
error by the trial court's adjudication and disposition orders of
Common Issues - Motions to Dismiss
 The juveniles contend Deputy Barr was without legal
authority to detain TB at the bus stop, amounting to an unlawful
arrest, and therefore their resistance to Deputy Barr was lawful.
Thus, they allege the court erred when it denied their motions to
dismiss. We do not agree.
In cases where the juvenile moves to dismiss, the trial court
must determine whether there is substantial evidence (1) of each
essential element of the offense charged, . . . and (2) of
[juvenile's] being the perpetrator of such offense. In re Heil,
145 N.C. App. 24, 28, 550 S.E.2d 815, 819 (2001) (quoting State v.
Powell, 299 N.C. 95, 98, 261 S.E.2d 114, 117 (1980) (citations
omitted)). If the evidence raises merely suspicion or conjecture
as to the offense's commission, or the identity of the juvenile as
its perpetrator, the motion should be allowed. Id. In reviewing a
challenge to the sufficiency of evidence, it is not our duty toweigh the evidence, but to determine whether there was substantial
evidence to support the adjudication, viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the State, and giving it the benefit of all
reasonable inferences. Id. at 29, 261 S.E.2d at 819. However,
because juveniles in no way deny the events which took place
subsequent to Deputy Barr's detention of TB, the sufficiency of the
evidence is not in question. Rather, it is the legal framework in
which those events fell that is before us. Thus, we apply the
evidence, viewed in a favorable light to the State, to what we hold
below to be the proper legal framework.
In New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720
(1985), the United States Supreme Court determined that a search of
a student's purse, conducted by a school official, and with some
level of suspicion that the purse contained contraband, did not
require that level of suspicion be probable cause. The Court,
expounding on the principles of its seminal decision in Terry v.
Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889, 905 (1968), reasoned:
Where a careful balancing of governmental and
private interests suggests that the public
interest is best served by a Fourth Amendment
standard of reasonableness that stops short of
probable cause, we have not hesitated to adopt
such a standard.
New Jersey, 469 U.S. at 341, 83 L. Ed. 2d 734. Pursuant thereto,
the Court adopted a looser reasonableness standard for school
searches by school administrators, applying a twofold inquiry as to
whether this standard has been met:
[T]he accommodation of the privacy interests
of school children with the substantial need
of teachers and administrators for freedom to
maintain order in the schools does not require
strict adherence to the requirement thatsearches be based on probable cause to believe
that the subject of the search has violated or
is violating the law. Rather, the legality of
a search of a student should depend simply on
the reasonableness, under all the
circumstances, of the search.
Id. at 341, 83 L. Ed. 2d at 734. Recently, the Fourth Circuit
extended T.L.O.'s reasonableness standard to the context of
detainment of a student, tantamount to seizure under the Fourth
Amendment, stating that:
It would be an odd state of affairs to tie
school officials' hands merely because
fulfillment of this mandate requires the
detention, not the inspection, of a pupil. We
thus address appellants' claim of illegal
seizure under the rubric announced in T.L.O.
Wofford v. Evans, ___ F.3d____,_____ (4th Circuit 2004) (seizure of
a student suspected of possessing a gun at school).
While the holding in T.L.O. was limited to searches by school
administrators and officials, our Court has recently adopted an
extension of this reasonableness standard to searches conducted by
law enforcement officials. We have since held that the T.L.O.
standard governs searches conducted by resource officers working
'in conjunction with' school officials, where these officers are
primarily responsible to the school district rather than the local
police department. In re D.D., 146 N.C. App. 309, 320, 554 S.E.2d
346, 353-54, appeal dismissed and disc. review denied, 354 N.C.
572, 558 S.E.2d 867 (2001); see also, In re Murray, 136 N.C. App.
648, 651, 525 S.E.2d 496, 499 (2000) (applying the T.L.O. standard
to a search conducted by a law enforcement officer at the behest of
a school administrator). We are now faced with the question of what is the required
level of suspicion for a school resource officer, who, acting in
conjunction with school officials, detains a pupil. As no North
Carolina case law has yet addressed this set of facts, we look to
the above stated principles and extensions of T.L.O. for our
determination. In light of the underlying rationale for the
extension of T.L.O.'s standard for temporary detainment of a pupil
as found in Wofford, and its extension to searches by resource
officers working in conjunction with school officials as found in
In re D.D., we hereby find applicable the T.L.O. standard to
incidents where a resource officer, acting in conjunction with a
school official, detains a student on school premises.
Before applying T.L.O. to the case at bar, we must first
determine whether Deputy Barr was acting in conjunction with the
school administrator. In re D.D., 146 N.C. App. at 321, 554 S.E.2d
at 353-54. We are convinced he was.
On the day in question, Deputy Barr, as the Center's resource
officer, was called upon to investigate an affray involving TB.
After observing a circle of students outside, he saw TB leaving the
school grounds and commanded three times that she stop. She did
not. He then spoke with a school administrator who confirmed that
TB had been involved in the affray, and that she had left campus.
Approximately 45 minutes from that discussion, Deputy Barr was
leaving campus when he saw TB still at the bus stop on school
property. He was still on duty and the school day had concluded
within the hour. Close in time to speaking with the administrator
and conducting the investigation, Deputy Barr sought to detain TBfor the sole purpose of taking her to the administrator to
determine whether she would be suspended for her actions. When she
turned to walk away, he grabbed her arm and told her to come with
We believe that based upon these facts the resource officer
was clearly acting in conjunction with the school administration.
Practicality demands that a school administrator must be able to
rely on some autonomy by a resource officer in conducting an
investigation on school premises, and we believe this necessarily
includes an officer's ability to detain a student outside the
presence of an administrator for the purpose of presenting them to
an administrator. The facts clearly indicate that Deputy Barr
intended immediately to present TB to the administrator in order to
discuss the ramifications of her actions under the rules and
policies of the school, not as violations of the laws of North
Carolina. The detainment occurred while he was on duty, on school
premises, and close in time to his investigation.
We now apply the T.L.O. standard to determine whether Deputy
Barr's seizure of TB was reasonable. In doing so, we apply the
twofold consideration as set out in T.L.O., and as applied in
Murray, In re D.D., and Wofford:
Determining the reasonableness of any search
involves a twofold inquiry: first, one must
consider whether the . . . action was
justified at its inception, Terry v. Ohio,
[392 U.S. 1, 20, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889, 905
(1968)]; second, one must determine whether
the search as actually conducted was
reasonably related in scope to the
circumstances which justified the interference
in the first place[.]
T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 341, 83 L. Ed. 2d at 734; Murray, 136 N.C. App.
at 651, 525 S.E.2d at 499; In re D.D., 146 N.C. App. at 321, 554
S.E.2d at 353-54; and Wofford,___ F.3d at ____.
A search is lawful at its inception when there are
reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up
evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the
law or the rules of the school. T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 342, 83 L. Ed.
2d at 735. Analogously, a school official may detain a student if
there is a reasonable basis for believing that the pupil has
violated the law or a school rule. Wofford, ____F.3d at ____. An
affray is a violation of North Carolina law, and necessarily a
violation of North Carolina school rules and policy. N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 14-33 (2003). The evidence reasonably infers the following:
Deputy Barr, acting as a school resource officer known to TB, saw
TB on school grounds after observing a group of students circled
around what appeared to be an affray. He commanded three times that
she stop and she ignored him. He then spoke with the school
administrator who indicated to him that TB had been involved in the
affray. Seeing TB close in time after speaking with the school
administrator, he detained her. We believe this is sufficient to
satisfy as reasonable grounds to detain.
We next consider whether the seizure was reasonably related
in scope to the circumstances which justified [it] in the first
place. T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 341, 83 L. Ed. 2d at 734. The evidence
indicated that TB had been involved in an affray. There was
conflicting evidence as to whether TB had resolved the matter of
the affray with the Center's administration. Close in time to theaffray and his discussion with the school administrator, Deputy
Barr came across TB on school grounds. In light of the potential
danger of allowing the matter to carry over into another school
day, we believe these circumstances justified TB's temporary
detainment to resolve the matter. It is reasonable to infer that
TB was well aware of her own culpability as justification for the
resource officer's detainment. And while we are concerned by the
evidence that the resource officer grabbed her arm for such
detainment, upon these circumstances, we do not think this amounted
to a Fourth Amendment violation. Because Deputy Barr otherwise had
authority to detain her, the fact that TB's resistance escalated
the measures Deputy Barr employed for the purposes of such
detainment does not implicate the Fourth Amendment. See, e.g., In
re Joseph F., 85 Cal. App. 4th 975, 985 (2000) (the First Appellate
District of California found that where a school resource officer
otherwise has authority to detain a juvenile on school grounds, the
Fourth Amendment is not violated where a juvenile resisted the
officer's efforts and the level of force to effect the lawful
detention escalated). Thus, we believe there was sufficient
justification to satisfy the second part of the T.L.O. test.
Based upon our conclusion that the detainment of TB by Deputy
Barr was lawful and did not amount to an arrest, the undisputed
resistance and assaults on Deputy Barr by FM and TB that ensued
were without legal justification. Therefore, the court did not err
in denying the motions to dismiss these petitions.
These assignments of error are overruled.
TB's Additional Issues - The Petitions
 Next, TB contends the trial court lacked jurisdiction to
adjudicate TB delinquent. She argues that the petitions charging
her were fatally deficient because an essential element of each
offense was not alleged. We do not agree.
When a petition is fatally deficient, it is inoperative and
fails to evoke the jurisdiction of the court. In re Green, 67 N.C.
App. 501, 504, 313 S.E.2d 193, 195 (1984). Because juvenile
petitions are generally held to the standards of a criminal
indictment, we consider the requirements of the indictments of the
offenses at issue. In re Griffin, 162 N.C. App. 487, 493, 592
S.E.2d 12, 16 (2004). [O]ur Supreme Court held that indictment
for the charge of resisting an officer must: 1) identify the
officer by name, 2) indicate the official duty being discharged,
and 3) indicate generally how defendant resisted the officer.
State v. Swift, 105 N.C. App. 550, 553, 414 S.E.2d 65, 67 (1992);
see N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-223 (2003). An indictment for assault on
a government officer requires allegations that the offender
assaulted an officer or employee of the State or any political
subdivision of the State, when the officer or employee is
discharging or attempting to discharge his official duties[.]
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-33(c)(4) (2004).
The petition alleging resisting, delaying and obstructing an
officer by TB states in relevant part:
[T]he juvenile did unlawfully and willfully
resist, delay and obstruct (name officer) S.L.
Barr, by holding the office of (name office)
Deputy (describe conduct) delay and
obstructing a public [officer] in attempting
to discharge a duty of his office.
At the time, the officer was discharging and
attempting to discharge a duty of his/her(name
duty) investigate and detain [TB]whom was
involved in an affray[.]
This offense is in violation of G.S. 14-233.
The same is true for the petition alleging assault on a government
officer/employee, stating in relevant part:
ASSAULT ON A GOVERNMENT OFFICER/EMPLOYEE [G.S.
14-33(c)(4)] and strike (name person) STANLEY
BARR a government * officer * employee, by
Forsyth County Sheriff' [sic] Office. At the
time of the offense the officer or employee
named above was attempting to discharge the
following duty of his/her office or employment
INVESTIGATING A DISTURBANCE ON SCHOOL GROUNDS.
On their face, we hold that these petitions were sufficient to
apprise TB of the specific allegations alleged against her,
including each element thereof, thus enabling her to prepare an
adequate defense. See In re Griffin
, 162 N.C. App. at 493, 592
S.E.2d at 16. Thus, the district court had jurisdiction to
adjudicate these matters.
These assignments of error are overruled.
After thorough review of the briefs, record, and transcript,
we find the juveniles received fair adjudication and disposition
Chief Judge MARTIN and Judge STEELMAN concur.
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