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Craig Bradley
IU Maurer School of Law

Ken Turchi
IU Maurer School of Law

Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011

Supreme Court decision on resisting unlawful police entry is sound: IU Maurer School of Law expert

May 20, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana Supreme Court's recent holding in Barnes v. State that there is no right to resist unlawful entry by police officers is a sound decision, according to an IU Maurer School of Law Fourth Amendment expert.

"The Supreme Court's decision means that we can't allow people to take the law into their own hands," said Craig Bradley, Robert A. Lucas Chair of Law. "The law should not allow people to assault police whenever they claim that they 'thought' the entry was illegal."

In Barnes, two police officers in Vanderburgh County responded to a 911 emergency call described as a "domestic violence in progress." One of the officers attempted to enter Barnes's apartment and was shoved against a wall. Barnes was convicted on battery charges, and asserted in his appeal that the trial court erred by not allowing a jury instruction on the common-law right of citizens to reasonably resist unlawful entry.

On appeal, the Court held that the common-law right is against public policy and incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. "The Court's decision was the right one," Bradley said. "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," including suing the police department. "The risk of harm to both the police and the defendant is too great to allow people to take matters into their own hands."

An expert on the Fourth Amendment and other criminal law matters, Bradley is available to comment on Barnes v. State. He can be reached at, or at 812-855-1257.