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State v. Simon

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant, Anthony Simon, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault after shooting at his neighbor.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    When a jury is instructed on self defense, the standard that is applicable is an objective standard, not a subjective one.

    Facts.

    Simon was the neighbor of Steffen Wong, whom he feared and assumed, that because of his ethnicity, was an expert at martial arts. Eventually this fear, and the fact the two did not really get along, led Simon to fire shots at Wong along with two other neighbors. Simon testified at trial that prior to the shooting Wong had approached Simon, cursing at him, which caused him to fear for his safety. An expert witness testified that Simon suffered from a mental disorder that skewed his view on reality and caused him to believe people were going to attack him. Because Simon believed that he was in imminent danger, the trial court instructed the jury that Simon may defend himself against an unlawful aggression if a reasonable person in his shoes would believe that the defense was reasonable. Simon was found not guilty.

    Issue.

    Whether when a jury is instructed on self defense, the standard that is applicable is an objective standard, not a subjective one?

    Held.

    Yes. When a jury is instructed on self defense, the standard that is applicable is an objective standard, not a subjective one.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    When dealing with a self defense claim, the standard must be an objective one, that is, what would a reasonable person have done in the defendants shoes and if a reasonable person believes that his conduct is necessary to defend himself from the unlawful force or aggression of another person, then their self defense will be justified. The reasonable belief is formed based on the circumstances and facts surrounding the case, and the jury should evaluate these circumstance to determine whether a reasonable person would have believed their conduct in self defense was necessary.


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