Monday, May 23, 2011

Indiana State Supreme Court 4th amendment ruling follow-up

Original post can be found here.

Quick and brutal summation provided by Chief Justice Steven David:

"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."

The Indiana State Attorney General will seek clarification from the Court:

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller on Friday joined the chorus of Hoosiers protesting a controversial Fourth Amendment ruling recently decided by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Zoeller released a statement saying he will support a rehearing of the case due to concerns that the court ruled too broadly when it found citizens have no right under common law to reasonably resist police who unlawfully enter their homes.

The apparent absence of any narrow application in the ruling is what truly bothered us.
Critics of the decision say the court – in a 3-2 ruling – tossed out hundreds of years of common law when it could have focused more narrowly, noting police in the case had probable cause to investigate a domestic abuse allegation and the wife inferred her permission for them to enter the home.

More Zoeller:
“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.”

Pointy-headed law school type who agrees with the ruling:
The Supreme Court’s decision means that we can’t allow people to take the law into their own hands,” professor Craig Bradley said. “The law should not allow people to assault police whenever they claim that they ‘thought’ the entry was illegal.”

He went on to say that “if the defendant thought the police officer’s entry into his home was illegal, he has plenty of opportunities to raise that issue through the court system. The risk of harm to both the police and the defendant is too great to allow people to take matters into their own hands.”
(italics, ours)

Fortunately for the rest of us, that's not what the 4th amendment is all about. Perhaps the cops did have reasonable cause to enter the house to prevent a case of domestic violence but the ruling does not address that. Consistent with our times, the ruling is content with voiding the spirit of the 4th amendment and letting the aggrieved have their day in court.

One gets the sense that the ruling views the 4th amendment as somewhat anachronistic in that the threat of brutish red coats violating the sovereignty of our property is long past and that any apparent violations can be addressed in the refined civility of the court room. There may no longer be any red coats but we don't see how that is justification for relaxing our guard against tyranny via the unwarranted search and seizure of our property by the government or anyone else for that matter.

No comments: