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Court Defends Police Arresting and Strip Searching a 13-Year-Old for Burping in Class

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A 13-year-old Albuquerque boy was arrested, taken to jail and strip searched after he was doing nothing more than being a burping class clown. Now, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is justifying the tyrannical police and school officials were justified in how they handled the incident.

It seem the 13-year-old boy had been told to stop burping in class, but failed to comply. So, what do you think adults, such as the boy’s teacher, Margaret Mines-Hornbeck, would come up with? Why, they call the police, have the boy arrested and taken to jail. They accused him of engaging in a marijuana trade and so they strip searched him, not finding any drugs. That is a clear violation of the boy’s rights that are to be protected under the Fifth Amendment.

KRQE reported the incident:

The incident happened in May 2010 when the 13-year-old belched repeatedly during P.E. class.

The teacher made him sit in the hall, but he kept burping and laughing, prompting the teacher to call out the school resource officer.

The boy was eventually handcuffed and taken to juvenile jail.

Attorney Jonathan Turley added, “In this case, you had a class clown in the seventh grade at Albuquerque’s Cleveland Middle School. The teacher, Margaret Mines-Hornbeck, reported to Officer Arthur Acosta that the boy was disrupting the class by continually burping in class. The boy was taken to an administrative office. In addition to the burping incident, the child was also searched for possible drugs.  The assistant principal suspected the teen of involvement in a marijuana transaction and told him to remove his shoes and jeans, and flip the waistband of a pair of shorts he was wearing under his jeans. No drugs were found.”

“The son was then suspended for the remainder of the year which seems an absurd response in itself to such a juvenile act,” Turley continued. “Then, however, they proceeded to charge him criminally.”

The law (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-20-13(D)) cited to justify the boy’s arrest for constantly burping in class after being told not to is as follows:

“No person shall willfully interfere with the educational process of any public or private school by committing, threatening to commit or inciting others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of a public or private school.”

In referencing the law, the Tenth Circuit wrote:

We believe the text of N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-20-13(D) manifests the New Mexico legislature’s intent to prohibit a wide swath of conduct that interferes with the educational process. The statute renders unlawful, inter alia, the commission of “any act which would . . . interfere with” or “disrupt” school functioning and, thereby, “interfere with the educational process.” N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-20-13(D) (emphasis added). The common meaning of the word “any” is, inter alia, “one no matter what one” and “some no matter how great or small”). . . .

The ordinary meaning of these statutory terms would seemingly encompass F.M.’s conduct because F.M.’s burping, laughing, and leaning into the classroom stopped the flow of student educational activities, thereby injecting disorder into the learning environment, which worked at cross-purposes with Ms. Mines- Hornbeck’s planned teaching tasks. More to the point, we cannot conclude that the plain terms of subsection (D) would have given a reasonable law-enforcement officer in Officer Acosta’s shoes fair warning that if he arrested F.M. for engaging in his classroom misconduct he (i.e., the officer) would be violating F.M.’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from an arrest lacking in probable cause.

Friends, when I was this kid’s age, they simply paddled you or made you stand in the corner to embarrass you, or worse, they called your Dad to the school and he dealt with you. What is this mentality of taking 13-year-old kids and falsely charging the, arresting them and carting them off to jail for a strip search due to burping? It’s tyranny and a lack of any common sense. I don’t care what the court ruled, the school and the police are way out of line in Albuquerque.

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