CAMRETA v. GREENE

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
09-1454
Petitioner 
Bob Camreta
Respondent 
Sarah Greene, et al.
Consolidation 
09-1478, Alford v. Greene
Decided By 
Advocates
(Attorney General of Oregon, for the petitioners)
(Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner)
(for the respondents)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Sarah Greene filed a lawsuit against Bob Camreta, a caseworker with the Oregon Department of Human Services, and Deputy Sheriff James Alford, contending they interviewed her daughter without a warrant, probable cause or parental consent. The girl's father, Nimrod Greene, was arrested for allegedly molesting a 7-year-old boy. The boy's mother told police that Sarah Greene had complained that she "doesn't like the way Nimrod makes (his daughters) sleep in his bed when he is intoxicated and she doesn't like the way he acts when they are sitting in his lap." After interviewing one of the girls, Camreta concluded that she had been sexually abused and had the girls removed from the home. Nimrod was charged with sexually assaulting the boy and one of his own daughters. After a mistrial, he accepted a plea bargain in which he maintained his innocence but admitted there was enough evidence to convict him. Greene insisted the allegations were lies, and the daughter who was interviewed later recanted her statements. District Court Judge Ann Aiken of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon dismissed the lawsuit. In December 2009, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit partially reversed, allowing Greene to pursue her Fourth Amendment claims against both defendants.

Question 

Does the Fourth Amendment require a warrant, a court order or parental consent before law enforcement and child welfare officials may conduct a temporary seizure and interview at a public school of a child whom they reasonably suspect was being sexually abused?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Camreta, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: mootness

The Supreme Court declined to address the Fourth Amendment question in the case. "We conclude that this Court generally may review a lower court's constitutional ruling at the behest of a government official granted immunity. But we may not do so in this case for reasons peculiar to it. The case has become moot because the child has grown up and moved across the country, and so will never again be subject to the Oregon in-school interviewing practices whose constitutionality is at issue," Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority. Justice Antonin Scalia filed a concurring opinion and Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Justice Stephen Breyer joined. "I agree with the Court's conclusion that this case is moot and that vacatur is the appropriate disposition; unlike the majority, however, I would go no further," Sotomayor wrote. "The majority suggests that we must decide whether Camreta has a 'right to appeal' in order to vacate the judgment below. But that view does not accord with our past practice." Meanwhile, Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Clarence Thomas joined. "The correct solution is not to override jurisdictional rules that are basic to the functioning of the Court and to the necessity of avoiding advisory opinions," Kennedy argued.

Cite this Page
CAMRETA v. GREENE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 22 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1454>.
CAMRETA v. GREENE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1454 (last visited October 22, 2014).
"CAMRETA v. GREENE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1454.