07/26/11 State Sen. Ed Charbonneau is recipient of a midyear integrity award in recognition of his efforts seeking reconsideration of a controversial Indiana Supreme Court ruling regarding Hoosiers’ rights to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.
Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) received the award from a grassroots legal reform organization called Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Restored (POPULAR). Launched in 2008, POPULAR consists of public interest attorneys and doctoral law degree holders who are committed to “helping poor and other disadvantaged people access affordable and competent legal representation in addition to appropriate judicial oversight.”
“It’s an honor to be recognized by this organization,” Charbonneau said. “I would like to dedicate this award to the people of Indiana who deserve the legal right to question unlawful entry into their homes.”
POPULAR advisory board member Katherine Moore said the organization has presented its integrity awards biannually since June 2009.
“All of POPULAR’s award recipients have taken or otherwise pursued one or more specific acts or measures to eliminate significant inequity, waste, fraud, abuse, or other public and private sector corruption in America,” Moore said.
Advisory Board President George Stokes, Sr., said, “Our group defines corruption as any illegal or unethical conduct contributing to the systemic malfunction of government, commerce or democracy in America as contemplated by the U.S. Constitution.”
Charbonneau in May announced he would work to clarify state self-defense laws during the 2012 legislative session and help reverse the controversial high-court ruling contending that “allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.”
This ruling stemmed from a Vanderburgh County case in which a man scuffled with police, reportedly blocking their entry during a domestic battery call and shoving an officer. As a result he was shocked by a stun gun and arrested.
Three Indiana Supreme Court judges who supported the decision said residents could use the court system if they felt a search was unjust. Two members – Justices Robert Rucker and Brent Dickson – strongly disagreed with the ruling, saying it was “unwarranted and unnecessarily broad.”
Charbonneau said he and fellow legislators contend Indiana’s self-defense law has long allowed citizens to use reasonable force to prevent or terminate unlawful entry into their homes.
He said the statute was further broadened by overwhelming majorities in both legislative bodies in 2006 to make clear that Hoosiers do not have a duty to retreat when faced with unlawful entry. The 2006 “Castle Doctrine,” by its plain language, applies to unlawful entry by police or persons pretending to be police.
Indiana’s Supreme Court recently accepted a joint brief filed by 71 Hoosier lawmakers encouraging the justices to reconsider the ruling. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller then filed a legal brief urging the Indiana Supreme Court to re-evaluate the verdict, arguing that citizens have the right to reasonably and nonviolently resist unlawful intrusion by police.