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You have the right to the 4th Amendment.....well you USE to

My good pal told me about Indiana no longer honoring the 4th Amendment last week and it was disturbing enough, and I saw somewhere someone official said "but we won't allow this to be abused."

But I was here when I read the following quote that makes you want to jump on the parapet.

According to Newton County Sheriff, Don Hartman Sr., random house to house searches are now possible and could be helpful following the Barnes v. STATE of INDIANA Supreme Court ruling issued on May 12th, 2011. When asked three separate times due to the astounding callousness as it relates to trampling the inherent natural rights of Americans, he emphatically indicated that he would use random house to house checks, adding he felt people will welcome random searches if it means capturing a criminal.” 

Sheriff Hartman has cried foul on this quote and issued a statement on the Newton County Sheriff's web site

On May 16, 2011, I was contacted by a reporter of an internet radio station.  Her question
concerned a recent Indiana Supreme Court decision, allowing police officers to make random
warrantless searches.  I advised her that I was not clear on that particular ruling; she
then asked how the Sheriff’s Office conducted searches of residences.  I informed her that
searches were only conducted with a warrant, probable cause or when an officer is in hot
pursuit.  When questioned about the Supreme Court ruling, I advised her that as police
officers, we enforce those laws set forth by our legislative branch.  This reporter then
asked about the violation of Constitutional Rights.  This State Supreme Court ruling in my
opinion cannot override our U.S. Constitutional Rights and I’m sure this state ruling will
be revisited.

When I was asked about my thoughts on random searches and how people would react, I gave
her the scenario of looking for a criminal or escapee.  I advised her that if people were aware
of this situation, they would gladly let you search a detached garage, outbuilding, etc., if
it meant keeping them safe, but this would only be after securing permission.

This court ruling is just open for lawsuits if a police officer would attempt a random search
without due cause.  Somewhere in this conversation things were definitely taken out of context.
I'm now quoted as saying the Sheriff's Office will be conducting random house to house searches.

I want the citizens of Newton County to rest assured that no member of the Newton County
Sheriff’s Office will enter the property of another person without first having a warrant or
probable cause to do so.  I strongly stand behind my oath to uphold the Constitution of the
United States of America, as well as that of the State of Indiana.

Sheriff Donald E. Hartman, Sr.

 Actual court document here

Regardless the sooner this is challenged the better.


Anonymous said…
Translation: "Who knew you sneaky bastards were listening?"
Anonymous said…
Sounds more like a blogger with an agenda ambushed the Sheriff. Why didn't the blogger even quote the Sheriff. Instead they just 'summarized' the conversation, in a completely different context than the Sheriff's version
Anonymous said…
Do some research on the original article that quotes the Sheriff. At best it was written by someone who wants to be a journalist. Not once is the Sheriff quoted, only paraphrased. Look at the author's other work and it becomes clear which came first the lie or the truth.
Anonymous said…
First off the "4th Amendment Rights no longer count in Indiana" is a bit of hyperbole IMO. This was simply a court decision on an exigent circumstance case.

First off it's a State decision. Case Law, not black letter law. Caselaw can be an important issue in arguing cases. How the courts have decided in the past does influence how the courts may decide in the future, on similar issues. BUT, there needs to be some similarity when citing caselaw. In this particular case, according to the court, the circumstances merited the entry. If this case gets cited as caselaw in the future, it will be based on the circumstances of the future case having some sort of similarity to this original case. It would not be supportable caselaw to cite this case if a police officer randomly walked into someone's house with no probable cause and no warrant.

Second, I don't know how this case even made it this high. That situation... "the abuser slams the door on you when responding to a domestic abuse call"...happens ALL the time. The male is Obstructing an investigation, he's going to be arrested, he can't avoid it by running back into his house (hot pursuit exigent circumstance). Plus (depending on the situation) the risk to the victim of the domestic abuse can qualify as an exigent circumstances exemption to the 4th amendment warrant requirement as well. I have a hard time believing that there is no case law on that situation already.

While I cant come barging into your home without a warrant or an exigent circumstance, YOU can't avoid a lawfull arrest of something you did in my presence by running from me and locking your door either.


While I think I understand what the justices were trying to get at judge is going to say "yeah we think that the homeowner can use force against persons whom he KNOWS are the police (vs. say a no-knock where the homeowner can say he didn't know who was coming) based on the homeowners assumption that the police have no right to enter." I don't know that I agree the broad legal statement that they made in this case.