Oral argument: Mar. 1, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Oct. 12, 2010)
FOURTH AMENDMENT, PROBABLE CAUSE, REASONABLENESS TEST, SPECIAL NEEDS, QUALIFIED IMMUNITY
When the Oregon Department of Human Services received a report of alleged abuse against a nine-year old child, a caseworker and police officer decided to interview the child at school, without parental consent or a warrant. After the charges against the child's father, Mr. Greene, were dropped, the child’s mother, Mrs. Greene, sued the caseworker and officer for violating her daughter's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search or seizure, arguing that probable cause is a necessary prerequisite to interviewing children about their alleged sexual abuse because such interviews may cause irreparable harm to the children when the allegations are unfounded. The caseworker and officer argue that reasonableness is the proper standard because it would be difficult to obtain probable cause when the child is often the only witness to the abuse. The Court's decision will likely clarify whether probable cause or reasonableness is the proper standard for interviewing a child who is the alleged victim of abuse without parental consent.