Hoosier hullabaloo part two: Citizens take action

 “We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” 

Jeff Houk, who works as a financial planner in Indianapolis, couldn’t understand how the state Supreme Court could issue such a blatant contradiction to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

“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 affrmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

But on May 12, that’s just what the court did in the case of a man who had denied permission for police to enter his apartment and then resisted when one of the officers tried to enter anyway. (See Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/05121101shd.pdf, and described in the previous post, “Hoosier hullabaloo – Indiana Supreme Court okays police home invasions.”)

Houk found others who objected to the ruling on Facebook and discovered they were organizing a protest. That effort attracted roughly 250 people. Houk, however, doesn’t plan to stop there. He plans to start a political action committee whose goal is to convince Indiana citizens to vote “no” on retaining Justice Steven H. David, who wrote the majority 3-2 ruling in the case.

“What motivated me was the knowledge of the possible,” Houk said during a phone interview. “We just didn’t have to put up with a Supreme Court justice who would decide a case like this. Protest is fine, but I’m more into action. I saw the possibility of real action, something significant that could be done.”

He’s studied election returns and determined that only about 10 percent of those who actually vote will need to be convinced. By targeting the largest precincts in the state, Houk thinks it can be done.

For more info, check the Facebook page, “Recall Justice David.”

Hoosier hullabaloo: Indiana Supreme Court okays police home invasions

This month, the Indiana Supreme Court handed down two decisions that gut Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure by police.

The first, from May 10, asserts that police don’t need to knock or otherwise announce their presence before battering down the door to someone’s home so they can execute a search warrant. Fort Wayne police had a warrant to search a house for drugs and firearms. Arriving at 7:30 a.m., they used a ram to knock down the door while simultaneously shouting, “Police!” An appeals court ruled that the evidence gained should have been thrown out, but the state Supreme Court overturned that decision.

Two days later, the court issued a far more sweeping decision: “We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” 

Two officers responding to a report about possible domestic violence asked to enter an apartment where a 911 call had originated. The husband, who had been arguing with his wife and had allegedly been throwing things against a wall, said no. When one officer persisted, the husband shoved him. The officers then used a choke hold and a taser against the husband. He was taken to a hospital and later charged with battery on a police officer, resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct and interference with reporting of a crime.

A court of appeals agreed with the husband that the trial court should have instructed the jury about a citizen’s right to reasonably resist unlawful entry into his home. It also found insufficient evidence for one charge and ordered a new trial on the others.

The state Supreme Court upheld his convictions in the trial court and overturned the appeals court’s ruling on the jury instruction about resistance to unlawful entry. The decision, wrote one of the dissenting justices, is “essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally – that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent, or exigent circumstances.”

This decision sparked a protest that has turned into a drive to defeat the re-election of  the justice who wrote it.  Stay tuned for information about that.

The May 10 ruling, in Damion J. Wilkins v. State of Indiana, can be viewed at  http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/05101102bd.pdf. The May 12 ruling, Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana, is at  http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/05121101shd.pdf.  Here’s a video clip from Fox News about the Barnes ruling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh5q67dxhhA&feature=related, and an article about the rulings from the Northwest Indiana Times can be found at http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_ec169697-a19e-525f-a532-81b3df229697.html.