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Justice: Ruling lets government agents enter homes illegally

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Two Indiana Supreme Court justices dissented from their colleagues in a case involving the right to resist unlawful police entry into a home, with one justice writing that he believes the majority is “essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally.”

In Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana, No. 82S05-1007-CR-343, Richard Barnes appealed his misdemeanor convictions of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting law enforcement, and disorderly conduct. Police responded to a 911 call by Barnes’ wife concerning domestic violence. When police arrived, Barnes was in the parking lot, but then went back into his apartment to retrieve more items because he was going to leave the apartment he shared with his wife.

When police tried to enter, Barnes told them they couldn’t and blocked them. When an officer attempted to come inside, Barnes shoved him against the wall and a struggle ensued.

Barnes appealed, challenging the trial court’s refusal to give his tendered jury instruction on the right of a citizen to reasonably resist unlawful entry into the citizen’s home, and the sufficiency of the evidence. The Court of Appeals ordered a new trial on the battery and resisting charges.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, and Justices Steven David and Frank Sullivan agreed with the trial court’s decision to not offer the instruction. This is the first time that the Supreme Court has been faced with whether Indiana should recognize the common-law right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.

After examining the English common-law right to resist unlawful police action, and previous U.S. Supreme Court cases on the matter, the majority concluded the right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.

“Nowadays, an aggrieved arrestee has means unavailable at common law for redress against unlawful police action,” wrote Justice David, citing bail and the exclusionary rule as examples. “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest—as evident by the facts of this instant case.”

The majority held that in Indiana, the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law. Justices Brent Dickson and Robert Rucker dissented in separate opinions. Justice Dickson wrote he would have preferred the majority to have taken a more narrow approach by “construing the right to resist unlawful police entry, which extends only to reasonable resistance, by deeming unreasonable a person’s resistance to police entry in the course of investigating reports of domestic violence.  ... Such a more cautious revision of the common law would have, in cases not involving domestic violence, left in place the historic right of people to reasonably resist unlawful police entry in their dwellings.”

In his dissent, Justice Rucker felt the majority’s ruling was far too broad and would allow the government to enter homes illegally, without the necessity of a warrant, consent, or exigent circumstance. He also said the right to resist unlawful entry into the home rests on the Fourth Amendment.

“In my view it is breathtaking that the majority deems it appropriate or even necessary to erode this constitutional protection based on a rationale addressing much different policy considerations. There is simply no reason to abrogate the common law right of a citizen to resist the unlawful police entry into his or her home,” wrote Justice Rucker.

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  • From Rucker's Dissent
    William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, on the occasion of a debate in Parliament:
    The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England cannot enter – all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!
  • next headline should read "3 former judges deported"!
    We the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts--not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
    Abraham Lincoln

    How these three judges could be so far off is mind-blowing, its as if they had never even studied law, or ever even seen an episode of schoolhouse rock. It's disgusting and they should be ashamed!
  • Reply to 3 Judicial Idiots
    Unfortunately Bill, the three judges who ruled were appointed by Republican Govs and one by Bayh, obviously not liberals. I'm a Conservative Republican and am totally disgusted by this.
  • burglary/ home invasion specialists like this case!
    There are a lot of incidents of burglars committing home invasions disguised as police. That is just one empirical example of why this right should not be attacked by judges. The people need to be secure in their right to defend themselves and their property. This search query will yield many examples

    http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0oG7n7mgdFNjHcA07RXNyoA;_ylc=X1MDUCMyMTQyMzU3MDg5BF9yAzIEYW8DMQRjc3JjcHZpZANGZEkxekVvRzd2NnhtUXJVVGMyRHBBWFJUTkFSamszUmdlWUFBaHp0BGZyA2Noci15aWU4BGZyMgNzYnRuBG5fZ3BzAzIEb3JpZ2luA3NycARxdWVyeQNwb2xpY2UgaW52YWRlIGhvbWUEc2FvAzEEdnRlc3RpZANWSVAwNjg-?p=police+invade+home&fr2=sb-top&fr=chr-yie8&type_param=
  • statism in action
    She admitted he had not harmed her. There was not even a reasonable suspicion of a crime. No warrant, no probable cause, no suspicion, and a lawful occupant refused the police entry, rightly so and the overweening overzealous cop beat him down for it. This is so wrong. The police have all their guns and swat teams to protect them. What protects the individual from the police? Not only a paper document but the righteous fear that some people may capably and lawfully defend themselves.

    I prophesy that the NRA and liberterian right will be just as outraged at this piece of trash as the liberal left will be. This is police statism in action here folks.

    Why not ship him off to Gitmo!
  • speak--- redress...
    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Dont throw up your hands. Get moving on letting your public servants know that this is unacceptable.
  • our right to self defense is not granted by any court nor may it be "abrogated"
    King John is laughing at us from his place in hell.

    This was among the rights of Englishmen and it devolved upon us. It is a crucial freedom, the freedom to defend oneself (as always, with reasonable force) against violation of the rights of person or property whether done by private or public agents.

    This little piece of judicial tyrrany repudiates a very rarely used but nonetheless crtically important liberty.
    I can hardly believe this piece of awful judicial activism is "emanating" from my beloved home state of Indiana.

    I have the highest regard for the dissenting judge. I am so thankful that someone at the high and "august" level of judicial legislator at least has some concern for liberty.

    Keep in mind that rights dont go away just because courts say they do. Our rights are God-given and this repugnant travesty will be rectified.
  • entry
    I don't like the ruling, I feel that removing our 4th Amendment rights the judges " ACTED STUPIDLY " and should be removed .
  • entry to home
    From what I read the police were responding to " the Wife's 911 call " now if she had told them they couldn't come in then they should not of entered. but since she had made the call his trying to keep them out was wrong in this case . the police need to make sure she was safe .
    • rights?
      rights in america where are they? the people of indiana need to vote for the change\amendment for the bill of rights not three justices we need our 4th amendent Right not a privlage just cuase someone wants to come in ur home? u have to let them in that crazy our us constiution was made for a reason and was well put togeather by our founding fathers where are our rights hoosiers need to appeal asap
    • 3 judicial IDIOTS Need to educate themselves
      The 3 Judges who decided that the US Constitution 4th Amendment along with other Amendments NO LONGER APPLY to US CITIZENS are COMPLETE IDIOTS and really need to be disrobed and sent back to remedial US history class and LEARN about WHAT,WHY,How the Constitution of the USA is supposed to work.

      Also, the Constitution is a DEAD Document, it is what it is,means what it means...this Liberal 'modification' and trying to make the Constitution a 'living document' is an affront to what it stands for and WHY it was drawn up in the first place...THROW those Judges OUT...send them to China, they can practice their 'Big Brother' law there..
      • The end of Individual rights is here.
        We're throwing away our hard-won civil liberties with both hands. It's the rise of the police state, and the death of the republic. This is only one of the steps that lead us away from freedom, but it's a path down which we travel further every day.

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