Warrants-Schmarrants in Sellersburg, Indiana

     INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – A small Indiana town violates federal warrant requirements by holding municipal employees to a mere five-day notice requirement, a man claims in court.
     William Schuler says he was not at his home in Sellersburg, Ind., one day in 2013 when a buildings department worker entered the property “and cited him for weeds and an uncovered pool in his backyard.”
     “Mr. Schuler’s pool and his backyard are not visible from the sidewalk or any other public property,” the complaint filed Wednesday states.
     Schuler says his backyard and pool remain out of public sight but that the building commissioner wrote to him last week, “indicating that the grass in his back yard is in excess of 9″ and he has standing water in the cover of his pool.”
     The commissioner allegedly vowed in his letter to check out Schuler’s property in a few days “for the presence of unabated nuisances.”
     Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, Schuler says his town is claiming authority for such warrantless searches from section 95.03 of Sellersburg’s code of ordinances.
     The law allows town employees to enter local property “to ascertain and discover any nuisances and to make examination thereof” after giving a five-day notice to property owners, according to the complaint.
     In addition to overgrown vegetation, nuisances defined in Section 95 include littering and noise.
     After giving the five-day notice, a town employee can “enter into or upon any building, lot, grounds or premises within the limits of this town to ascertain and discover any nuisances and make examination thereof,” the complaint states.
     The ACLU says Section 95.03 violates the Fourth Amendment by allowing entry to a property without a warrant or permission.
     “The Fourth Amendment provides the right of people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures,” ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk said in a statement. “The ordinance and planned warrantless inspection of our client’s property is unconstitutional.”
     Schuler seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and damages. He is represented by Falk of the ACLU of Indiana.

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