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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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