If true, add tar, feathers, and rail. Some assembly required.

Via preauxphoto at Burgers and Boomsticks, we find this story of an Indiana sheriff reportedly claiming that the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision in Barnes v. Indiana (PDF warning), which states that there is no right to resist an illegal entry by police, means that random house to house searches by police are now possible.

If he really said this, then not only should he be immediately removed from office, tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail, but he is also wrong.

Before I get into any of that, though, you may want to know: Why am I being hesitant in believing he actually said this? There are two reasons.  First, because the story I linked to seems to be the only source I can find, and does not contain any actual quotes from the sheriff in question. Anytime the media does not actually quote a person who is saying something important or controversial, but instead paraphrases or summarizes what they supposedly said, you should always suspect they are doing something shady. I understand that it is actually a radio show, and that the sheriff’s quotes may be in the actual broadcast version, but that appears to be locked behind a paywall so I can’t hear it myself. Secondly, the story I linked to seems to be both the original source, and the only source – everything else I have found links back to that story. No other news outlets – local, mainstream, or otherwise – seem to have anything on this. It is not independently verifiable.

This is such a serious matter, and such a damning accusation, that I must hesitate to believe it without either hearing a recording of those words coming out of his mouth, or reading an actual quote that can be verified by a second and independent source.

But if he did say it, then he is wrong. Even with the shameful Barnes decision, random house to house searches are still illegal. Any evidence gained in such searches will be thrown out in court, and any charges resulting from those searches will be impossible to sustain (assuming, of course, that the courts do their job properly). What Barnes did was to make it illegal to resist such a search, but unless the exclusionary rule for the results of illegal searches is overturned they are almost completely pointless. The police might learn who they need to watch in the future, but even future investigations could be jeopardized by such behaviour.

It does not allow random house to house searches. They are still illegal. If he thinks that it does, and is willing to order such searches, then he needs to be removed from office, quickly. Preventing such searches is why we have a Fourth Amendment in the first place.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

U.S. Constitution, Amendment IV


Update: Somehow, SnarkyBytes never made it on to my blogroll. That has now been corrected. Sorry, Alan!

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1 Comment

  1. Sheriff Hartman claimed, essentially, that his words were taken out of context and that he never said anything of the sort. I attempted to call his office, but his secretary gave me the runaround. The local papers had some well-written followups, however.


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