Legislative committee to look at Barnes decision

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Not since daylight-saving time has an issue agitated Sen. Brent Steele’s constituents as much as the recent decision by the Indiana Supreme Court on illegal police entry.

Steele, R-Bedford, said a lot of people are upset over the decision in Barnes v. State, handed down by a split Supreme Court in May, which ended the common-law right to resist illegal entry into a home by police. Steele said the ruling flies in the face of the Castle Doctrine, codified in Indiana Code 35-41-3-2 in 2006, which says that a person is justified in using reasonable force and doesn’t have a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent or terminate someone’s unlawful entry or attack on the person’s home.

Now, Steele and other legislators are going to address the fallout from the decision in a special committee.

Chair of the Legislative Council, President Pro Tempore Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne, asked Steele to chair the committee created Tuesday to look into the Barnes decision. The committee is also comprised of Sen. Tim Lanane; D-Anderson, Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, who is a former police officer; and Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero. The committee plans on meeting toward the end of June. Steele said even if the Supreme Court rehears the case and alters or narrows its decision, the Legislature still must act.

“There will be a decision some day that comes on the Fourth (Amendment), and (the justices) will say the Legislature didn’t do anything” so it will be up the court to interpret statute, he said.

One of the possible solutions is to put into code all of the exigent circumstances that could be used to justify a warrantless entry, but Steele isn’t sure yet what decisions the committee may make. They will complete a final report with suggested solutions by the end of October.

 “We are going to fix it,” he said.

In addition to the study committee on the Barnes decision, the Legislative Council released the topics interim study committees will be looking into this summer. They include redistricting, sex crimes against children, critical problems in the criminal justice and corrections systems, and sentencing issues. A complete list is available on the General Assembly’s website.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.