May 222011
 
 May 22, 2011  Court, Surveillance

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he supports a rehearing of the Richard L. Barnes v. State case in the Indiana Supreme Court due to concerns that the Court ruled too broadly when it found that citizens have no right under common law to reasonably resist police unlawfully entering their homes.

“I support a rehearing of the case to allow for a more narrow ruling that would continue to recognize the individual right of reasonable resistance to unlawful entry. In our brief and argument to the Indiana Supreme Court last fall, my office did not advocate for the type of ruling the Court issued last week. I believe a reconsideration is appropriate. A rehearing and a new ruling would afford the Supreme Court the opportunity to clarify any misperceptions regarding people’s Fourth Amendment right to be secure in their homes against unreasonable searches and seizures — even against unlawful entry by police,” Zoeller said.

“In supporting a rehearing, the State will continue to argue that Barnes’ convictions should be upheld, but on more narrow grounds. We contend that under the circumstances, the police entry of Barnes’ residence was legal: The officers responding to the 911 call sought to avoid leaving the alleged victim alone inside with the defendant after a confrontation outside. So while there is no right to commit battery against police, I believe the individual has the right to shut the door, stand his ground and communicate with police without engaging in an altercation. In balancing the perils of domestic violence with respect for law enforcement, I will continue to advise our police clients to respect people’s Fourth Amendment rights,” Zoeller said.

After the Indiana Supreme Court’s 3-2 ruling last week upholding Richard L. Barnes’ convictions for battery on a police officer and resisting law enforcement, Barnes’ defense indicated publicly they would ask the Court to reconsider its ruling and conduct a new hearing. The Attorney General’s Office represents the prosecution when criminal defendants appeal their convictions and sentences. Because this is an unusual case, Zoeller — in responding to the Court’s decision — supports allowing a petition for reconsideration so that both sides can make new arguments. Zoeller will argue for keeping Barnes’ convictions but scaling back the legal impact of the case upon future cases, consistent with judicial restraint.

Barnes has until June 13 to file a petition for rehearing to have the Indiana Supreme Court reconsider its decision.

Source: Attorney General Zoeller

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