People v. Goetz

Court of Appeals of New York, 1986.

68 N.Y.2d 96, 506 N.Y.S.2d 18, 497 N.E.2d 41.

Dressler, pp. 466-471


Facts: Goetz shot four men on the subway.  He claimed he did it in self-defense because he thought the men were going to rob him.  He was charged with attempted murder and other charges, and he moved to dismiss the charges on the basis of the prosecutor’s instructions to the Grand Jury in regard to the justification defense.  The trial court dismissed the charges, and the intermediate appellate court upheld the dismissal.


Issue: Is the “reasonable person” standard for self-defense as justification an objective standard or a subjective standard?


Rule: The reasonable person standard is an objective standard.


Analysis: The court finds that the prosecutor accurately articulated the standard to the Grand Jury.


Conclusion: The court reinstates all counts of the indictment.


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