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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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