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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court posts a second opinion this afternoon

In Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana, an 11-page, 3-2 opinion (with the same two dissenters as in 2 earlier opinions this week), Justice David writes:

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. * * *

I. Jury Instruction

Barnes contests that his tendered jury instruction should have been given because it was a correct statement of a viable legal defense supported by the facts and because that defense was not covered by the other instructions. We acknowledge that the Court of Appeals followed its own precedents in its analysis. Now this Court is faced for the first time with the question of whether Indiana should recognize the common-law right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers. We conclude that public policy disfavors any such right. Accordingly, the trial court‘s refusal to give Barnes‘s tendered instruction was not error. * * *

In sum, we hold that Indiana the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law. Accordingly, the trial court‘s failure to give Barnes‘s proffered jury instruction on this right was not error. * * *

Shepard, C.J., and Sullivan, J., concur.
Dickson, J. dissents with a separate opinion.
Rucker, J. dissents with a separate opinion in which Dickson, J. concurs.

[From J. Dickson's dissent]
In my view, the wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad.

[From J. Rucker's dissent] The majority has made a respectable case supporting the proposition that the common law rule entitling a person to resist an unlawful arrest is outmoded in our modern society. * * *

But the common law rule supporting a citizen‘s right to resist unlawful entry into her home rests on a very different ground, namely, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Indeed, "the physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed." Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 585 (1980). In my view it is breathtaking that the majority deems it appropriate or even necessary to erode this constitutional protection based on a rationale addressing much different policy considerations. There is simply no reason to abrogate the common law right of a citizen to resist the unlawful police entry into his or her home. * * *

At issue in this case is not whether Barnes had the right to resist unlawful police entry into his home – a proposition that the State does not even contest – but rather whether the entry was illegal in the first place, and if so, whether and to what extent Barnes could resist entry without committing a battery upon the officer. Federal Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is equal to the task of resolving these issues. 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. And that their sole remedy is to seek refuge in the civil arena. I disagree and therefore respectfully dissent.

[Emphasis added by ILB]

[More] Read this opinion in conjunction with the two no-knock warrant rulings in Wilkins and Lacey from earlier this week.

Also see this editorial from the Muncie Star-Press dated May 11th, headed "The Knock on no-knock warrants."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 12, 2011 03:25 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions