State v. Poitra

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 03-26-2014
  • Case #: A148526
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Schuman, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The state of mind of an arresting officer is not relevant to a self-defense analysis and risks confusing the jury, which instead must evaluate the defendant's reasonable belief as to the circumstances.

Sherry Mary Kay Poira (Poira) appealed her conviction of second-degree disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Poira began causing a disturbance while attending her sons’ criminal case hearing. The trial judge asked the Poira not to leave the courtroom, which she immediately attempted to do. Officers asked the Poira to sit back down, but Poira did not comply. Officers grabbed Poira and forced her down to the ground. At trial, the jury was instructed that the officer’s state of mind should be considered when deciding whether Poira acted in self defense and the Poira objected. Poira was found guilty of all charges. On appeal, Defendant argued that the self-defense instruction was erroneous and prejudicial. The Court agreed, citing State v. Oliphant, which held that an officer’s state of mind is irrelevant to a self-defense analysis. It was erroneous and prejudicial for the trial court to instruct the jury to consider the officer’s state of mind. Reversed and remanded

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