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Indiana Supreme Court: Resisting an Unlawful Entry Into Your Home is… Unlawful

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By Doug Powers  •  May 14, 2011 01:03 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. — 4th Amendment to the US Constitution

The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that the 4th Amendment needs a disclaimer when it comes to officers of the law acting unlawfully (at which point, by definition, wouldn’t they cease to be “officers of the law”?).

Bruce McQuain has the details:

That’s what the Indiana Supreme Court decided in what would be a laughable finding if it wasn’t so serious:

Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

The author of the story reporting this is right – somehow the ISC managed, in one fell swoop, to overturn almost 900 years of precedent, going back to the Magna Carta.

In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.

Or said another way, your home is no longer your castle.

From the ruling (PDF):

David, Justice.
A jury convicted Richard Barnes of Class A misdemeanor battery on a law enforcement officer, Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, and Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Barnes contests that the trial court‘s failure to advise the jury on the right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers constituted reversible error and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers. We further hold that the evidence was sufficient and affirm Barnes‘s convictions.

Also from the ruling:

We believe however that a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Nowadays, an aggrieved arrestee has means unavailable at common law for redress against unlawful police action.

In other words, “in the old days if an officer unlawfully entered your home and arrested you, you were pretty much screwed but now you have ways to prove your innocence and file a complaint against the officer, so just shut up and tolerate the initial injustice for the safety of everybody involved.” But what if the officer entering unlawfully uses the opportunity to plant evidence to justify his or her unlawful entry and render it artificially lawful? We could play those back and forth games all day, and that’s why the 4th Amendment is there.

Two justices opposed the majority, citing the 4th:

Justices Robert Rucker and Brent Dickson dissented, saying the court’s decision runs counter to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally — that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances,” Rucker said. “I disagree.”

So Hoosier Staters can now be arrested and charged with “unlawfully resisting an unlawful entry”? Bizarre.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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