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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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