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IU pot-suspension appeal ‘near frivolous,’ 7th Circuit rules

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An Indiana University student’s appeal of his suspension after a large marijuana plant and other evidence of illegal drug use were discovered in his dorm room “is near frivolous,” a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

The panel affirmed summary judgment in favor of IU and other defendants in Zachary Medlcok v. Trustees of Indiana University, et al., 13-1900. Medlock appealed the ruling of District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the Southern District of Indiana alleging that the university violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.

But the panel noted that IU had notified Medlock and other students of pending dorm room inspections for code violations by email a week in advance, and that notice of the inspections had been announced the same day. When resident assistants found marijuana in Medlock’s dorm they notified IU police, who executed a search warrant and counted 89 grams of marijuana, resulting in a felony possession charge.

The opinion notes that “for unexplained reasons the charges were dropped, although there can’t have been any doubt of his guilt.” The panel ruled that students and officers acted reasonably and lawfully after marijuana was discovered in Medlock’s dorm room.

“There is no merit to the due process claim,” Judge Richard Posner wrote for the panel. “The in-your-face flagrancy of Medlock’s violation of university rules (he had plenty of warning of the impending inspection, remember), and of Indiana’s criminal law, required the university to take immediate remedial action if its commitment to its rules, and to legality, was not to be questioned.”

“In short, the case is near frivolous, the decision to sue the two student inspectors offensive, and the most surprising feature of the entire episode is the exceptional lenity with which a state university (in a state that does not allow medicinal, let alone recreational, use of marijuana) treated a brazen violator of its rules of conduct and of the criminal law,” Posner wrote.

“But as we noted some years ago, ‘the danger that without the procedural safeguards deemed appropriate in civil and criminal litigation public universities will engage in an orgy of expulsions is slight. The relation of students to universities is, after all, essentially that of customer to seller. … And if we may judge from the happy ending of the marijuana bust for Medlock, the customer is indeed always right.”


 

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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