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COA: Deputy not justified in entering backyard

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A sheriff’s deputy who tried to serve a protective order was not justified in entering the backyard of a home after no one answered knocking at the front door, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The deputy saw marijuana in the backyard, leading to the homeowner’s arrest.

Hendricks County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Butterfield attempted to serve the protective order at the home of Duane Jadrich in Brownsburg. There were several signs on the property saying to use the front door, including on a closed gate on a fence. Butterfield went through the gate to the backyard and knocked on that door after no one answered. He saw what he thought was marijuana growing in the backyard.

Eventually homeowner Jadrich and his wife responded to knocking on a window and allowed the deputies inside, where they found marijuana in a smoking pipe. Jadrich was arrested and charged with drug offenses. He filed a motion to suppress, which was denied, and he was convicted of two misdemeanor charges.

On appeal in Duane Jadrich v. State of Indiana, 32A04-1302-CR-67, Jadrich argued that Butterfield conducted an unconstitutional warrantless search of his property. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed his convictions.

The appellate court noted that the route to Jadrich’s back door is not one that visitors would reasonably view as open to the public. The judges looked to other jurisdictions to determine whether a police entry into curtilage or approach to a secondary entrance was justified.

“In summary, seemingly unanimous authority requires some justification before a police officer may permissibly venture into spaces not normally used by the public, such as approaching a secondary entrance to a house located in the curtilage,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote. “In some cases, this entry is justified by a reasonable belief that a person may be contacted by such entry, and in others by observations that indicate possible criminal activity. The record contains no evidence that indicates such justifications in this case, as Deputy Butterfield did not observe or hear anything before entering Jadrich’s back yard that would have led a reasonable person to believe that any criminal activity was afoot, anybody was in the back yard, or knocking on the back door was more likely to result in contact with anyone inside the house.”

“The State has failed to convince us that Deputy Butterfield’s purpose for being at Jadrich’s home — to serve a civil protective order — justified his foray into the back yard,” he continued. “The State points to no authority suggesting that the service of protective orders is a purpose that excuses police entry into areas that are otherwise constitutionally protected and off-limits.”

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  • BUT ...
    But the NSA can use his laptop video to spy on him, can listen to his telephone conversations and can take pix of his property from any angle without the need for oversite?
  • "Cartilage"
    The word cartilage appears twice in your article. The word is "curtilage," an old common law property term.

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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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