O.W. v. Carr

An assistant principal and a school resource officer (SRO), a certified member of law enforcement stationed at a Virginia Beach middle school, collaboratively questioned a student, thirteen-year-old O.W., and compelled him to write a series of incriminating statements. These statements were ultimately provided to the SRO and used to prosecute O.W. in juvenile court. O.W. brought a civil lawsuit challenging the Virginia Beach police department’s and public school district’s collaborative efforts to evade constitutional protections afforded students during detentions, searches, and interrogations and the use of any incriminating evidence obtained in juvenile or criminal court proceedings.

Juvenile Law Center and RISE for Youth filed an amicus brief in support of O.W. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Our brief argued that the increased presence of law enforcement in schools leads to greater juvenile and criminal system involvement for youth and disproportionately affects Black youth. We further argued that O.W. was entitled to Fifth Amendment protections during questioning, and we detailed the unique vulnerabilities of youth in school settings to argue that O.W.’s statements were obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The Fourth Circuit dismissed O.W.’s appeal without prejudice, finding that the Court lacked jurisdiction because the appeal was premature. 

The case was refiled in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit after the District Court found the previously appealed summary judgment order to be final. Juvenile Law Center and RISE for Youth filed an additional amicus brief in support of O.W., continuing to highlight the implications of increasing entanglement of law enforcement and schools, youths’ unique vulnerabilities in school settings, and how these must inform the interrogation analysis under the Fifth Amendment.



Marsha Levick, Riya Saha Shah, Vic Wiener


Tiffany Faith, Marissa Lariviere