Court Clarifies Earlier Opinion in Barnes vs. State Case

The state called for a rehearing after the Court’s first opinion was thought to say citizens had no right to resist police from entering their homes illegally.

Indiana Supreme Court

Photo: Scutter

The Indiana Supreme Court Chamber

The Indiana Supreme Court is clarifying an earlier opinion in the controversial Barnes vs. State case. Attorneys for both Barnes and the state called for a rehearing after the Court’s first opinion was thought by many to say citizens had no right to resist police from entering their homes illegally.

A jury found Richard Barnes guilty of forcibly resisting police entry into his home after officers arrived there on a domestic violence call. The Supreme Court reaffirmed its original decision in the case, upholding the conviction. It also restated its opinion that citizens have no right to commit battery against police officers.

But Indiana University law professor Charles Geyh says the Court added some important nuances that do allow people to resist unlawful entry into their homes. Geyh adds, the question now raised is where that line is drawn.

“The line really at a minimum means you can stand in the doorway and keep the police from entering, but if they push past you, your remedy is not to grab a bat, your remedy is to call your lawyer,” he said.

But IU professor Craig Bradley does not think the Court’s opinion changed even a little. He believes both opinions say people’s remedy for unlawful entry by police is only after the fact, in the court system.

“Obviously the police think they have a right to be there and you don’t get to overrule that decision based on your legal opinion that they have no right to be there,” Bradley said.

Bedford Senator Brent Steele, who chairs a legislative study committee on the Barnes case, says the General Assembly still needs to refine state statutes to clarify the issue.

Joe Hren

Anchor, Indiana Newsdesk - WTIU & WFIU News. Follow him on Twitter @Joe_Hren

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