The Michigan Supreme Court says people can resist police officers who unlawfully enter their homes.
In a 5-2 decision, the court ordered that charges be dropped against Angel Moreno Jr., a western Michigan man who was accused of obstructing officers at his home in Holland. The officers were looking for someone and tried to enter the home without a warrant.
Lower courts had upheld charges of resisting police, based on a 2004 Supreme Court decision, but justices on Friday said that case was wrongly decided.
The opinion was written by Justice Diane Hathaway. She and two other Democrats on the court were joined by two Republican justices, a rare alliance. The dissenters were Republican justices Stephen Markman and Robert Young Jr.
An Ottawa County Circuit Court judge agreed that officers entered Moreno's home illegally, because they had no warrant, but said the state statute regarding resisting and obstructing makes no mention that officers must be performing a "lawful act" when the violation occurs.
In 2002, state lawmakers removed the "lawful act" language from the resisting and obstructing statute.
State Court of Appeals justices upheld the circuit court judge's ruling, but the Supreme Court on Friday reversed the ruling.
Justices said the common law right of a person to resist illegal police conduct still prevails, "including unlawful arrests and unlawful entries into constitutionally protected areas."
Justices said the Legislature can modify common law, but it must do so in "no uncertain terms."
They ruled it's not clear from the language of the resisting and obstructing statute, nor legislative history, that lawmakers intended to dissolve the common law rights.
In Friday's opinion, the Supreme Court ordered the Ottawa County Circuit Court to toss out the charges as earlier requested by Moreno.