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ISBA responds to fallout from split Supreme Court ruling

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The Indiana State Bar Association issued a statement today addressing the outrage being expressed by many people concerning a state Supreme Court decision last week, which held individuals don’t have the right to resist police who enter private residences, even if those entries are illegal.

Justices handed down a 3-2 decision on May 12 in Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana, No. 82S05-1007-CR-343. The majority ruled the common-law right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers is no longer recognized in Indiana. Justice Steven David authored the majority opinion, writing that a person can use the legal system for redress against unlawful police action rather than resorting to violence in the heat of the moment.  Justices Brent Dickson and Robert Rucker each dissented, believing the opinion went too far and tells Hoosiers that government agents may now enter their homes illegally – without a warrant, consent, or exigent circumstances.

In the week since, national and statewide media coverage has focused on the ruling and public reaction. Evansville attorney Erin Berger, who represented Barnes, plans to ask for a rehearing and is prepared to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today said he supports a rehearing to allow for a more narrow decision. On appeal, the AG’s office didn’t advocate for this broad of a ruling.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle have reacted and criticized the ruling, saying they’ll sponsor legislation to override it, and a public protest rally is being organized for Wednesday at the Statehouse. As of this morning, more than 1,300 people had signed up on Facebook to attend.

Earlier this week, the court’s public information officer, Kathryn Dolan, said the high court has received threatening calls and emails in response to the ruling. She said those threats were primarily toward police. She declined to provide specific information regarding the number of threats, what the calls or messages said, or how the threats may have impacted day-to-day functions at the court. Dolan said Indiana Capitol Police are investigating.

Today, the ISBA issued a brief two-paragraph statement:
“Everyday our courts issue opinions with which people disagree – even vigorously. While those who disagree with the opinion have a right to criticize it, the Indiana State Bar Association encourages that such criticism be in a respectful manner, excluding personal and inflammatory attacks on individual judges and law enforcement officials,” the statement says.

“Our democracy depends on an independent judiciary supported in the exercise of its constitutional obligation to decide cases fairly and dispassionately. Those decisions must be made according to law, without regard to public pressure and fear of political reprisal. In the coming weeks, the Indiana Supreme Court may be asked to reconsider the decision through a petition for rehearing. The case might also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. These are appropriate means to challenge the decision; threats and personal attacks are not.”

Terre Haute attorney and ISBA President Jeffry Lind said the statement was in direct response to the media reports about potential threats to the judiciary and police, not  because of any specific concerns brought by association members.

 “Attorneys knew these things were happening, and our hope is to not only support free speech but to remind everyone that the legal process has its own legal process. Violence isn’t the answer and not a part of the healthy discourse process we have,” Lind said.

 

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  • Independant
    "Our democracy depends on an independent judiciary supported in the exercise of its constitutional obligation to decide cases fairly and dispassionately."

    The ISBA needs to stop advocating against the people. Judges selected by the state and its politicians need to be accountable to the people. Electing judges in our counties works very well. They are accountable. Without accountability to the people violence will be the peoples only option. Read the Declaration of Independance.

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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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