Local News Politics

An Indiana legislative study committee heard public comment today regarding a controversial state Supreme Court ruling made earlier this year.

It involves the case of Richard Barnes, who was convicted of shoving an officer who had come into his Evansville home without a warrant during a domestic dispute between Barnes and his wife.

The high court ruled in a 3-2 decision that Barnes did not have the right to block police from entering his home.

Critics say the decision is unconstitutional and violates Indiana’s so-called castle doctrine that allows people to defend their homes against unlawful police entry.

But Indiana Fraternal Order of Police representative Leo Blackwell told the panel that officers sometimes find themselves in potentially dangerous situations that require quick action, and that was the case with Barnes.

“Then the officer says, ‘well, do I stand down, go back to my car, start the warrant process?’ Then what if the next sound they hear is that of a shotgun and she’s found dead. Who will they blame?,” he said.

Most of the ten speakers criticized the ruling, including Dwight Lyle, representing a group called Constitutional Patriots.

“Judges do not make law. They guarantee that the law is applied properly as it is written, not as they wish it were,” Lyle said.

Some lawmakers have asked the high court to reconsider its decision.

They’re also determining whether to take legislative action.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."