Barnes panel OKs proposed law changes

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A legislative study committee has approved proposed changes to state law that it hopes the Indiana General Assembly will consider in response to a state Supreme Court decision earlier this year.

On Thursday, the committee studying the justices’ controversial Barnes v. State decisions passed language that would clarify state statute involving when residents have the right to reasonably resist police who are entering their homes.

As currently written, the committee’s draft legislation permits a homeowner to use reasonable force in resisting a police officer’s unlawful entry into a residence if that homeowner does not have actual knowledge that the officer is an officer or if that officer isn’t engaged in official duty. The legislation notes that even then, violent force should be used to prevent unlawful entry only if there is no other adequate alternative.

The draft legislation does not allow homeowners to resist if a police officer enters in cases of hot pursuit; if that officer has a warrant, suspects domestic violence or has reasonable belief that someone inside the house is at risk of physical harm; if at least one resident invites an officer inside and there’s no other objection from any adults inside; and pursuit of a criminal committing or escaping after the commission of a crime.

“Our draft legislation allows statutory defense for homeowners in specific situations of unlawful home entry by law enforcement,” said Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, the lawyer-lawmaker who chaired the four-person panel established in June. “It was this panel’s goal to make a suggestion that would protect both homeowners and police officers, reducing the potential for violence and respecting the private property of citizens.”

The Supreme Court in May issued a ruling that said Indiana residents have no common law right to resist police entering their homes. The Vanderburgh County case involved Richard Barnes, who’d been convicted of resisting police and battery on an officer that stemmed from a 911 call about possible domestic violence. Barnes didn’t want police entering his home after they arrived on the scene and he resisted when they tried to enter. The justices determined Barnes had no common law right to commit battery or resist. In September, they issued a second ruling that clarified their holding to mean that even Indiana’s castle doctrine allowing homeowners the right to protect their residences doesn’t offer a defense to resistance or battery on an officer.

The three committee members present at Thursday’s meeting supported the proposed changes – Steele, Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond. Member Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, wasn’t at the meeting. Those attending said these changes are a work in progress and that more revisions could be made during the regular session that starts in January.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.