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71 object to unlawful-entry ruling

Legislators sign brief asking for Supreme Court review

– Seventy-one Indiana legislators signed on to a brief filed Wednesday urging the Indiana Supreme Court to reconsider a hotly contested ruling limiting Hoosiers’ right to resist unlawful entry by police.

The members include those who were in office in 2006 who supported a new “no retreat” law they feel the ruling conflicts with, as well as newer lawmakers.

The Indiana Supreme Court found in May that citizens have no right under common law to reasonably resist police unlawfully entering their homes. Critics say this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure. Supporters say it ensures officer safety, and that citizens can sue afterward over the entry.

The case involved a Vanderburgh County man who was arguing with his wife while moving out of their apartment. The man, Richard Barnes, yelled at police, who followed him back into his apartment. Barnes told police they could not enter, and he struggled with an officer who disregarded his warning.

Barnes was later charged and convicted of battery.

Opponents of the ruling say the court – in a 3-2 decision – could have ruled more narrowly.

The 2006 “no retreat” law also was not considered in the opinion.

It says a person is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against another person if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry of or attack on the person’s property.

There is no exception in the law for police.

“Few issues before this court have galvanized the public’s attention and concern as the declaration in this case,” the brief said. “The public policy of this state, as embodied in the 2006 legislation, has been to grant our citizens greater autonomy to protect themselves from unlawful incursions into their homes.”

Since the ruling Hoosiers all over the state have spoken against it, including Gov. Mitch Daniels. Opponents also conducted a Statehouse rally protesting the decision.

A number of area legislators are included in the brief: Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne; Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City; Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange; Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle; Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn; Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne; Rep. Dick Dodge, R-Pleasant Lake; Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington; Rep. Robert Morris, R-Fort Wayne; Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne; Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake.

“They went beyond the facts of the case,” Long said.

The Evansville defense attorney handling the case has until Monday to officially file for a rehearing, which Attorney General Greg Zoeller has said he will support.