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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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