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Officer’s ‘ruse’ to enter home leads to reversal of resisting conviction

Jennifer Nelson
February 26, 2014
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A police officer who lied to a woman in order to gain entry into her home was not lawfully engaged in the execution of his duties, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday, so the judges reversed a woman’s resisting law enforcement conviction.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer James Gillespie responded to a call from Robin Harper regarding a domestic dispute with her husband. She was outside when the officer arrived and explained the situation. Then Gillespie and officer Scott Hartman located her husband, who had some minor injuries from the incident.

When officers went back to Harper’s residence to arrest her for domestic battery, she refused to open her screen door and allow them inside. She also refused to step outside, so Gillespie told Harper she needed to sign a protective order. When she opened the screen door, the officers stepped inside to arrest her.

She was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest when she pulled away from Hartman as he tried to remove her wedding ring after she was in handcuffs. She was found guilty at a bench trial.

“In the case before us, Harper never abandoned the privacy interest in her home. She simply opened her front, prime door to answer Officer Gillespie’s knock, and after she did so, she stood behind the closed screen door to speak with him,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote in Robin Harper v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1305-CR-222. “Harper never crossed the threshold of her residence onto her stoop or porch. In addition, Harper expressly denied the officers entry to her home, and rather than obtain a standard warrant for her arrest, Officer Gillespie chose to use fraud to enter the residence to arrest her.”

The judges found that since the officers unlawfully entered Harper’s home, they were not engaged in the lawful execution of their duties at the time they arrested Harper and attempted to remove her ring in preparation for booking.
 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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