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Landmark Case: School Searches and Privacy – R. v. M. (M.R.)

Each OJEN Landmark Case includes a case summary, classroom discussion questions and worksheets that encourage students to explore both the legal and societal importance of the case.

This is a leading case from the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) dealing with search and seizure in Canadian schools. A vice-principal at a high school in Nova Scotia was told by several students that a 13-year-old student, M.R., was selling drugs on school property and would be bringing drugs to a dance. The vice principal asked M.R. and a friend to come to his office and advised them that he was going to conduct a search for drugs. He proceeded to do so in the presence of an RCMP officer and recovered a plastic bag of marijuana. M.R. was arrested and charged with possession of a narcotic. M.R. argued that the search was a violation of his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under s. 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that the evidence should be excluded under s.24(2). The majority of the SCC held that there was no Charter breach and that the evidence had been gathered fairly and should be admissible.The full decision is available here.

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