People v. Dilworth

661 N.E.2d 310 (1996)

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People v. Dilworth

Illinois Supreme Court
661 N.E.2d 310 (1996)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

About 100 students attended the Alternate School, which was a public high school for students with behavioral disorders. If an Alternate School student improved his or her behavior, the student could return to a regular school. The school staff included teachers, aides, a social worker, a psychologist, a counselor, and a liaison police officer. The liaison officer, Francis Ruettiger, was employed by the town police department and assigned full time to the school as a staff member. Ruettiger detected crime at school and handled some disciplinary problems. Preserving order at the school helped maintain a proper educational environment. One day, two teachers asked Ruettiger to search Deshawn Weeks, who was rumored to be planning to sell drugs the next day. The next day, Ruettiger searched Weeks but found no drugs. Ruettiger then observed Weeks at his locker, giggling and talking with Kenneth Dilworth (defendant). Through their mannerisms, the boys conveyed that they had “fool[ed]” Ruettiger. Ruettiger then noticed Dilworth holding a flashlight and immediately thought that the flashlight contained drugs. Ruettiger had never seen any other student bring a flashlight to school. Ruettiger searched the flashlight, which contained cocaine hidden under the batteries. Dilworth later admitted at a police station that he had intended to sell the drugs. The state (plaintiff) charged Dilworth of drug possession with intent to deliver while on school property. Dilworth filed a motion to suppress evidence, which was denied. Dilworth was convicted and appealed the denial of his motion to suppress. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court granted the state’s petition for review to address the correct search standard.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bilandic, C.J.)

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