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Legislators file amicus brief asking for narrowed Barnes decision

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Seventy-one Indiana legislators have signed an amicus curiae brief that asks the Indiana Supreme Court to narrow its recent decision that held Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes. The defendant's attorney in the case has also asked for a rehearing.

Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis professor Joel M. Schumm filed the brief on behalf of the 40 state senators and 31 state representatives Wednesday. According to the court docket, Barnes' attorney Erin Berger filed a petition for rehearing Thursday.

“Few issues before this court have galvanized the public’s attention and concern as much as the declaration in this case that the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law,” said Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, in a statement referring to Richard Barnes v. State, No. 82S05-1007-CR-343. “Rehearing is appropriate to reconsider that holding in light of Indiana’s robust self-defense statute.”

The brief focuses on two areas: Indiana’s self-defense statute and the public policy concerns underlying it.

The legislators argue that the state’s self-defense statute has long allowed residents to use “reasonable” force if the person “reasonably believes” that force is necessary to prevent or end unlawful entry into his or her home. In 2006, the statute was broadened to say that residents don’t have a duty to retreat when faced with unlawful entry.

There are also concerns as to how this ruling impacts cases of police impersonators trying to gain entry into homes. The brief cites examples from Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Los Angeles in which someone falsely posed as a police officer to gain entry into a home and commit a crime.

“These headlines need not be replicated in Indiana. Rather, granting rehearing is appropriate to narrow this Court’s holding and apprise our citizens that they retain the venerable right to reasonably resist unlawful entry into their homes by police,” the brief states.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose office represented the state, also supports a rehearing because of concerns that the ruling is too broad.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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