Written by Martha Zackin
Joseph Van Zee wanted to be all he could be - so he joined the Army. After the Army recruiter discovered that Van Zee had a juvenile criminal record, his enlistment was cancelled. Van Zee responded in the American way- he sued, alleging that his Fourteenth Amendment privacy rights were violated by Chief Court Services Officer who disclosed his juvenile record to the Army. Joseph Van Zee v. Marilyn Hanson, No. 10-1588 (8th Cir. January 18, 2011).
To amount to a violation of the constitutional right to privacy, the Court stated, the information disclosed must be “either a shocking degradation or an egregious humiliation,” or a “flagrant” breach of confidentiality. Stating without discussion that the disclosure was “neither shockingly degrading nor egregiously humiliating,” the Court turned to the issue of whether Van Zee had a legitimate expectation that his juvenile records would not be disclosed to the Army recruiter. The undisputed facts showed that Van Zee told the recruiter that he had a juvenile record and signed forms authorizing the release of all records to the recruiter. Therefore, the Court held, Van Zee had no reasonable expectation that would not be disclosed. Case dismissed.