Thursday, May 19, 2011

Barnes v. State: Time for Attorney General Greg Zoeller to Stand Up for Citizens of Indiana and Their Right to Resist Unlawful Police Entries

Indiana Attorney General
Greg Zoeller
With the exception of some law enforcement officials, virtually everyone else in the state is unhappy with the Barnes v. State in which the Indiana Supreme Court held that "In sum, we hold ... that the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law."  While I haven't seen the briefs, it seems possible that the Court went beyond what the Attorney General's Office  requesting.  One would hope that Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office wasn't asking that this historic right that citizens have be tossed aside.  

Apparently when asked about the case, Attorney General Greg Zoeller has refused to comment.  It is time for Attorney General Greg Zoeller to step forward and tell the public whether he believes that citizens should have the right to defend themselves and their homes from unlawful police entries.  After all, Zoeller could opt to join with the Defendant and ask for a rehearing and that the case on much narrower grounds.  My bet is that Zoeller will not. Whenever Greg Zoeller has been given the chance to reign in law enforcement absues, he has chosen instead to look the other way.  In the case of civil forfeiture, he even went so far as to write an obviously erroneous legal opinion to justify the law breaking by law enforcement officials, an opinion which contains reasoning that no one, including the Supreme Court, buys.

The public should be demanding that Attorney General Greg Zoeller answer the question whether he believes citizens have the right to defend themselves and their homes from unlawful police entries.   Attorney General Zoeller should not be permitted to say "no comment" to the public while having his attorneys, funded by our tax dollars, fighting to take rights away from the public.


Jedna Vira said...

Paul, please answer this one question and then you can scold the State Supreme Court for their decision: When does a citizen know if the police are making an "unlawful" entry?

There is a process already in place to correct "unlawful" entries by police into the homes of citizens.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Well a classic example would be the Fred Sanders case when they were breaking down his door because he didn't want to talk to them, which is his right. That's clearly an illegal entry.

Police officers obviously have the right to enter a dwelling when they have a search warrant, they have been invited or there are exigent circumstances. I think the officers clearly had the right to enter the premises in the Barnes case. But the court didn't say that, they took it a step further.

What exactly is the "process already in place to correct 'unlawfl" entries by police into the homes of citizens?" If you're talking about a civil lawsuit, that's no remedy at all...damages are minimal at best and you can't sue without damages.
Wouldn't you agree that police officers shouldn't have the right to go into people's homes without a warrant or other valid reason under the 4th Amendemtn.

Kilroy said...

Fred Sanders murdered a police officer because he feared being arrested. Encouraging the murdering of police officers by people with no legal training that unreasonably think they can defend their homes with lethal force without a reasonable fear for their life is not good public policy.

Blog Admin said...

Jedna, I'd suggest you talk to your PoliPit colleague PoliticoMonk. He seems to have several concerns over the Barnes case, at least if his Twitter feed is to be believed.

Anonymous said...

More worried about deterrent to police thinking twice about illegal entry if they think they could be injured or killed by someone defending themselves against an illegal arrest. This is now gone.

Paul K. Ogden said...
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Paul K. Ogden said...

Kilroy, that's not what happened at all. There was no arrest. Officer Faber got mad at Sanders because he wouldn't talk to him and went back in his house, WHICH HE HAS EVERY RIGHT TO DO. Faber and another officer went to his house and when Sanders refused to let them in they proceeded to try to knock down the door. In the process of the ILLEGAL ENTRY Faber got shot.

The only question as to whether Sanders acted in self-defense was Sanders shooting Faber in the back...Faber apparently saw the gun and reconsidered his decision to go after Sanders. Whether Sanders went too far is an issue up for debate. Whether Faber was acting like an idiot and was trying to unlawfully enter Sanders home is not disputed. He was doing exactly that. There is no justification for Faber's actions that day. None.

Apparently a federal civil jury didn't agree with you because they gave a verdict to Sanders for Faber's actions that day as well as other officers who beat the crap out of Sanders.

Jedna Vira said...

Paul, you conveniently left out another reason for a lawful entry into a home of a civilian; fresh pursuit. State law is clear that a law enforcement officer can pursue a suspect of even a misdemeanor into their home without a search warrant or arrest warrant. The Fred Sanders case was not cut and dry; rather IPD argued it was fresh pursuit. However, even if it wasn’t, Sanders is obligated by the same self-defense law that police officers are. He was not faced with a life threatening situation that justified using deadly force against an officer. Let’s follow your logic to a reasonable end and see what it does for our society. Every citizen can resist any police entry into their home that they feel is “unlawful” and can resist with deadly force!? Seriously! The State Supreme Court’s decision is in line with the “good faith” doctrine afforded to police officers, as well as case law supporting that citizens cannot resist police if they are being “unlawfully” arrested.

Paul K. Ogden said...
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Paul K. Ogden said...
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Paul K. Ogden said...


"Fresh pursuit?" Are you kidding me? They were having a conversation outside about the barking dog. Sanders asked if he was under arrest. Faber said "no." Sanders, tired of talking to Faber, terminated the conversation and went back into his apartment. Now exactly what criminal act was Faber in hot pursuit after Sanders about...the crime of not talking to him? And exactly how did Sanders, who is very obese, outrun Faber to his apartment while Faber was in "pursuit?"

The Sanders case most certainly did not involve a pursuit. It involved an out-of-control police officer whose temper got the better of him and he did something illegal and extremely foolish in trying to break into Sanders apartment.

I don't think there are many people who actually try to justify Faber's actions that day, which were clearly wrong and clearly illegal. Sanders had every right to defend himself and his apartment with the force necessary to repel Faber's illegal entry, including deadly force if necessary. Where Sanders got in trouble was Faber saw the gun and turned his back to flee and that's when Sanders shot him. Well if Faber is fleeing the need for force arguably no longer exists.

The law does not require someone to face a life or death situation to defend themselves in their home, by the way. To this date the statute that the SCT missed in its opinion does not require that.