ACLU of Indiana Challenges Ordinance Allowing Warrantless Searches of Private Property

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
August 19, 2015 1:15 pm

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Indianapolis – A man whose residential property was searched without his permission and without a warrant, who lives under threat of a repeated non-consensual search of his property, is challenging the section of a town ordinance that permits the search, claiming it violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana brought the lawsuit today on behalf of William Schuler of Sellersburg, Ind. against the Town of Sellersburg. In 2013, an employee of the Sellersburg Commission of Buildings and Code Enforcement entered Schuler’s property when he was not there and cited him for the existence of “nuisances” not visible from the street or from any public property. The ordinance allowing that search gives government officials and police permission to enter and inspect property after issuing the owner of the property a five-day notice, but it does not require the owner’s permission or require that a warrant be issued before the property is inspected.

Town officials have informed Schuler that they plan another non-consensual search of his property.

“The Fourth Amendment provides the right of people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. “The ordinance and planned warrantless inspection of our client’s property is unconstitutional.”

The case, William Schuler v. Town of Sellersburg, Indiana, Case 4:15-cv-117-SEB-DML was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division, on August 19, 2015.

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