Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Ind. Decisions - Editorials today on Supreme Court's decision in Barnes
Updating this ILB entry posted a few minutes ago, here are two editorials from Indiana newspapers on the ruling:
- "Justices discard 300 years of law" - from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, available here. Some quotes:
“The English common-law right to resist unlawful police action existed for over three hundred years, and some scholars trace its origin to the Magna Carta in 1215,” wrote Justice Steven David – the newest justice, appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels. “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.”
The court ruled that the centuries-old standard no longer applies because if police wrongly enter a home, residents can sue them and, unlike hundreds of years ago, get quick bail, have a quick court date and not be tortured in jail.
“(T)he right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law,” the court ruled, though no written statute was changed and no precedent-setting court ruling provided a basis for the decision, other than the court’s own.
In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled just this week in the case of a Kentucky man whom police arrested after bursting into his apartment without a warrant. Police said they smelled marijuana and thought the man was trying to destroy incriminating evidence, and the case revolved around the circumstances of when police may enter a home without a warrant.
Justice Samuel Alito – who wrote the opinion – suggested residents are not required to allow police to come in. “Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame,” Alito wrote – suggesting a constitutional right not to allow police entry.
Except, now, in Indiana.
One of the few cases cited in last week’s flimsy eight-page ruling in Indiana was a 1985 Indiana Court of Appeals case, in which that court “ultimately focused on the heightened expectation of privacy in one’s home and recognized a right to resist an unlawful entry into a home by a police officer.” The court did not attempt to explain exactly what happened in the past 26 years to gut that ruling. * * *
No one wants Hoosiers to believe they have a right to fight police officers, even those who enter a home without warrant or cause. But neither should the courts tell residents they have no right to refuse unlawful entry into their homes.
While changing law, the justices should have consulted the Indiana constitution:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search or seizure, shall not be violated. …”
- "Justices discard 300 years of law" - from the NWI Times, available here. Some quotes:
Perhaps you remember from civics class that the Magna Carta, signed in England in 1215, is the foundation of common law, including civil rights. The Magna Carta inspired the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which deals with government searches and seizures.
"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," the court said.
"In sum, we hold that (in) Indiana the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law," the majority opinion said.
Tell that to the person whose home is being invaded.
The ruling in Barnes v. Indiana sets up a potential nightmare. Hoosier homeowners are allowed to consider their home as their castle and to defend it by shooting armed intruders. But with police allowed to enter a home without knocking, even without a warrant, even unlawfully, how will the homeowner know whether he's defending himself against criminal intruders or government intruders?
The Indiana Supreme Court went too far in its ruling last Thursday. Justices Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, were wise to dissent.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 18, 2011 09:23 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions