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Transfer granted to 'knock and talk' case

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The state's highest court has agreed to hear a case in which the Indiana Court of Appeals split on whether a police "knock and talk" investigation violated a man's constitutional rights.

The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer today to Kenneth Brown v. State of Indiana, No. 11S04-0911-CR-537, in which Kenneth Brown's various drug convictions were upheld by the Court of Appeals. Judges Carr Darden and Margret Robb ruled the knock and talk procedure didn't violate Brown's rights under the state or federal constitutions. Neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion is constitutionally prerequisite for a knock and talk investigation, and suspicion based on an anonymous tip is proper basis for officers to make inquiries of occupants.

Four police officers went to Brown's house in the early morning to talk to him after receiving a tip that a person they had arrested got drugs from Brown. The officers knocked on his front door and when Brown answered, explained the earlier arrest and asked to search his home. Brown allowed only one officer to enter; that officer found drugs.

Judge Paul Mathias dissented, holding that the investigation and search violated Brown's rights under the state constitution. The judge noted the police said they were taking a "crap shot" to get into Brown's house because they didn't have anything to go on. That doesn't amount to a reasonable degree of concern, suspicion, or knowledge that criminal activity has occurred under Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 359 (Ind. 2005).

The degree of intrusion in this case was very high, with four officers and three police cars showing up at the home in the middle of the night. Judge Mathias didn't believe a reasonable person, roused from sleep and faced with these intimidating circumstances, would feel free to refuse the officers' request to search.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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