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Court addresses Barnes retroactivity

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The Indiana Court of Appeals added a new dimension to the debate about police entry and reasonable resistance, with a three-judge panel for the first time bringing up the issue of retroactivity as applied to the state justices’ controversial ruling in Barnes v. State.

With a ruling Wednesday in Danielle Garrett v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1101-CR-1, the intermediate appellate court affirmed an Indianapolis woman’s convictions of resisting law enforcement and battery on a police officer and refused an invitation to revisit the Barnes case that the Indiana Supreme Court ruled on in May and clarified in September on rehearing.

In this Marion County case, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer arrested Danielle Garrett in August 2010 after responding to a report of domestic violence at a home. The officer arrived and saw Garrett angrily walking from a nearby intersection toward the house where the report came from, muttering under her breath. She was identified as one of the individuals involved in the disturbance.

The uniformed officer told Garrett to stay outside, but she ignored the command and walked inside the house. The officer believed she was going to start a fight, and so he followed Garrett inside after observing her yelling and screaming at family members inside and refusing to leave. The officer grabbed her by the wrist and told her to go outside, but Garrett pulled away and went farther into the house. Additional officers arrived and she started yelling more loudly as they tried to calm her, and when one officer tried to place her in handcuffs, Garrett took an aggressive fighting stance and then struggled with the officer and kneed him in the upper thigh.

The officers eventually subdued and put restraints on Garrett, and that led to charges of resisting law enforcement, battery on an officer and disorderly conduct. She was found guilty of battery on an officer and resisting law enforcement at a bench trial in December 2010.

Garrett appealed, arguing that evidence doesn’t support her conviction because she has a right to reasonably resist the police because they entered her home without a warrant and without any other justifiable reason for entry. Specifically, Garrett took issue with the Barnes ruling where the Indiana Supreme Court held “there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” She also argued that Barnes should not be applied retroactively to her case – she filed her appellant’s brief at the time a rehearing petition before the Indiana Supreme Court was pending following the original May 12 ruling.

The Court of Appeals found the entry was justified because of Garrett’s conduct and the uncertain nature of what was happening, as well as how she at one point asked police why they were talking to her inside the home instead of investigating others – something the appellate panel described as “clearly acquiesced” to them being there to investigate someone she believed was in the bathroom. Her resistance is separate from the issue of entry, the court wrote, and so her claims are without merit because that behavior wasn’t reasonable even if the police entry wasn’t lawful.

“Given that Garrett has failed to establish an unlawful entry and our conclusion that her resistance was not reasonable, the rule announced in Barnes is not applicable to the present case,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote. “Notwithstanding, the Barnes decision does not present an ex post facto problem in this case. It has long been established that battery against a police officer is not reasonable resistance under the common law.”

Citing Robinson v. State, 814 N.E.2d 704 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), Friedlander noted that “even prior to Barnes, Garrett’s conduct in forcefully combating the officer(s) after she acquiesced in their presence in her home was unlawful.”

In a footnote, Friedlander wrote that the panel declined Garrett’s request to reconsider the Supreme Court’s holding in Barnes. Judges Carr Darden and Nancy Vaidik agreed in affirming the ruling by Marion Superior Judge Rebekah Pierson-Treacy and Magistrate Steven Rubick.

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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