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Indiana Supreme Court rejects claim of right to resist police entry into home
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Indiana Supreme Court rejects claim of right to resist police entry into home

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INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed its controversial ruling that Hoosiers have no right to ever physically resist police entry into their homes.

In a 4-1 decision, the state's high court said Tuesday the common law rule that "a man's home is his castle" cannot be used as a defense if a person is accused of attacking a police officer entering a home in an official capacity.

"Our holding does no more than bring Indiana common law in stride with jurisdictions that value promoting safety in situations where police and homeowners interact," wrote Justice Steven David for the court.

The ruling stemmed from an alleged 2007 Evansville domestic violence incident where Richard Barnes shoved a police officer trying to enter Barnes' home to investigate after Barnes told the officer he couldn't come in.

Barnes claimed the jury in his misdemeanor battery case should have been instructed that Barnes had a lawful right to resist what he considered an illegal police entry into his home.

In May, the five-member Supreme Court rejected Barnes' appeal, 3-2, saying Hoosiers have no right to resist even unlawful police entry into their homes.

That decision sparked Statehouse protests, threats against the court and inspired a General Assembly committee to review changes to state law that would reverse the court's holding.

The court appeared to narrow its earlier ruling in its four-page decision Tuesday, which granted Barnes' petition for rehearing while affirming the original outcome.

David noted police were legally entering Barnes' home at the request of Barnes' wife and therefore Barnes' shoving of a police officer cannot be justified under the Castle Doctrine.

Though, in what might be a poke back at the 71 state lawmakers who filed a petition asking the court to review its original ruling, David wrote that if the General Assembly wants to change state law to allow citizens to batter police officers it is free to do so.

Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, was the sole "no" vote on Tuesday's ruling.

In a brief dissent, Rucker said he wanted a more in-depth review of the legal tension between the prohibition on attacking police and a state law that authorizes citizens to use force if it is reasonably believed to be necessary to defend one's home.

Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the court's decision in May but concurred in Tuesday's result without comment.

Barnes' attorney, Erin Berger, previously vowed to appeal an unfavorable ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

She did not return several telephone messages left Tuesday seeking comment on the outcome of the case.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller praised the court for protecting both police officers and the right to resist illegal entry.

"The Indiana Supreme Court's ruling today means that individuals still have the common law right of reasonable resistance to an unlawful entry, though there is never justification for committing battery against a police officer," Zoeller said. 


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