Published May 15, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- People have no right to resist if police officers illegally enter their home, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in a decision that overturns centuries of common law.
The court issued its 3-2 ruling on Thursday, contending that allowing residents to resist officers who enter their homes without any right would increase the risk of violent confrontation. If police enter a home illegally, the courts are the proper place to protest it, Justice Steven David said.
"We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."
Justices Robert Rucker and Brent Dickson strongly dissented, saying the ruling runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure, The Times of Munster reported.
"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by 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," Rucker said.
Both dissenting justices suggested they would have supported the ruling if the court had limited its scope to stripping the right to resist officers who enter homes illegally in cases where they suspect domestic violence is being committed.
But Dickson said, "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."
The court's decision stemmed from a Vanderburgh County case in which a man yelled at police and blocked them from entering his apartment to investigate a domestic disturbance. The man shoved a police officer who entered anyway and was shocked with a stun gun and arrested.
Valparaiso University School of Law professor Ivan Bodensteiner told The Times that the court's decision is consistent with the idea of preventing violence.
"It's not surprising that they would say there's no right to beat the hell out of the officer," Bodensteiner said. "(The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."
Thursday's decision was the court's second ruling this week involving police entry into a home.
On Tuesday, the court said police serving a warrant may enter a home without knocking if officers decide circumstances justify it. Previously, police serving a warrant had to obtain a judge's permission to enter without knocking.