Last week, the Supreme Court of Indiana ruled that an individual may NOT prevent unlawful entry into their home by a police officer. They also ruled earlier in the week, that police do not have to knock before entering if they actually DO have warrant.
In the case Barnes vs. State of Indiana, the court stated, “We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.”
Despite the historic cases, which upheld personal rights and were quoted in this case, the court determined, “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” (emphasis added).
The right to be safe in one’s home dates back as early as the Magna Carta in the 13th century and has been consistently supported through English Law via Semayne’s case which stated, “The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose.”
This case also stated, “In all cases when the King is party, the sheriff may break the party’s house, either to arrest him, or to do other execution of the K[ing]’s process, if otherwise he cannot enter. But before he breaks it, he ought to signify the cause of his coming, and to make request to open doors…”
This was the basis for our own Fourth Amendment which guarantees, “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.”
Although this was originally intended to prevent federal trampling of individual rights, it was upheld to apply across all the states with Mapp vs. Ohio in 1961.
In one week, Indiana courts dismissed both of these rights on behalf of their own citizens.
Indiana Supreme Court’s Rulings
Rather than refusing unlawful entry, the court says the individual should permit it and then seek civil action for the wrongdoing: “Nowadays, an aggrieved arrestee has means unavailable at common law for redress against unlawful police action.”
In essence, the court places the financial, legal and time burden of addressing official wrongdoing squarely on the backs of the individuals wronged.
So the homeowner, it would seem, is to trust the courts (who have removed their rights to say who can and cannot be welcome in their own home in the first place) to protect them IF they are able to invest in legal fees to fight the court-defined “unlawful entry.” Meanwhile, they should simply ignore the fact that they are no longer safe, by court order, in their own homes to refuse entry without cause or reason. Lovely. Where do I sign up for that in my own state?
The court states, “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest—as evident by the facts of this instant case.”
The official case document also states, “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.”
Change the Law And Apply it in Retrospect? WTH?
And, since this ruling was based on this case (which occurred BEFORE changing the law and ruling that unlawful entry could NOT be resisted) isn’t it interesting that the law was applied after the fact? Since the police officer that entered the individual’s home in this case was “shoved into a door” by the owner, the court ruled, “Because we decline to recognize the right of a homeowner to reasonably resist unlawful entry, Barnes is not entitled to batter Reed, irrespective as to the legality of Reed‘s entry” and the homeowner was charged with battery of a police officer.
From the court document, “Barnes does not dispute his struggle with the officers but contests that his conduct was a lawful response to the officers‘ allegedly unlawful entry into his apartment. Because Barnes is not entitled to resist the entry of the officers, his battery on Reed was sufficient grounds for his arrest, and the uncontroverted fact that he resisted the arrest was sufficient to sustain his conviction.”
Nevermind that AT THE TIME OF THE INCIDENT the homeowner was protected by law from illegal entry by police. Let’s just ignore that.
Let’s also ignore the fact that a “shove” resulted in the homeowner being tackled and tazered by the officers that had no legal right to be in the house at that time — an event that landed Barnes in the hospital.
The No-Knock Warrant
It’s not really that much of a jump to wonder if a police officer can enter without knocking (with a warrant) and cannot be blocked entry (even if entering without one), what will happen the first time a homeowner is caught off-guard and shoots what he can only reasonably assume is a burglar/trespasser in his home.
And isn’t it ironic that the basis for the No-Knock decision was based on a case wherein the inhabitants were allegedly felons in possession of firearms? In that particular case, perhaps leaving the option to enter the dwelling without knocking first is less criminal and civil law and more Darwinian “law” or probably will be.
To learn more about those cases, view:
Lacey vs. State of Indiana
Wilkins vs. State of Indiana
It will be interesting to see how this is handled when it is (hopefully) appealed to the US Supreme Court.
Update: As of an hour after posting this, the US Supreme court OVERTURNED a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling. The state’s court ruled that entry without a warrant was unconstitutional.
In an 8-1 ruling, the US Supreme Court determined that it was NOT unconstitutional for officers, claiming to have smelled marijuana, to enter a man’s house by force, without a warrant. Read Supreme Court Case Kentucky vs. King.
So much for faith in the highest court in the land…