1. “What quantum of evidence must the accused present to avail himself of self-defense/defense of others when the alleged victim was not a primary threat?”
2. “Does a Defendant’s intent to exercise self-defense/defense of others transfer to other assailants when the Defendant is only confronted with the fists of the primary threat?”
Jordan and his friend, Cody Bryan, arrived at a restaurant at which Summer Varley, Jordan’s ex-girlfriend, worked. They were met at the door by Jordan Royal, a large friend of Varley’s, who told Jordan not to speak to Varley. Jordan and Bryan got a table away from where Varley, Royal, and three others sat. Royal and one of the others approached them while they waited on their order and spoke to them aggressively. After Varley’s group paid and left, Jordan and Bryan decided to cancel their orders and leave after the group had enough time to disperse. The group was still outside when they exited, however, and their hollering prompted Jordan and Bryan to walk speedily to Bryan’s car. Royal caught up to them and knocked Bryan unconscious with one punch. Jordan tried to run to the car but was hooked and spun around by Royal, who got on top of him. Varley was trying to pull Royal off when she was shot by Jordan. Another shot pierced Royal’s femoral artery. Jordan testified that he believed he was getting mobbed and, based on what happened to Bryan, he was justified in pulling his pistol from his pocket and firing even though he could not see to aim. After everyone fled, Jordan returned to the restaurant, put his pistol down on the counter, and waited for police.
Jordan was tried for aggravated assault against Royal and deadly conduct by discharging a firearm against Varley and Austin Crumpton, a member of the group who was not shot. The jury was instructed on self-defense on both charges based on Royal’s use of unlawful deadly force. The jury hung on aggravated assault but convicted Jordan of deadly conduct.
Jordan raised numerous complaints about the self-defense instruction. First, it included a duty to retreat. Second, it did not explicitly tell the jury to acquit if it had a reasonable doubt that the State disproved self-defense. Third, it failed to include a presumption of reasonableness based on the victim’s commission or attempted commission of murder. Fourth, it failed to include a “multiple assailant” instruction. The court of appeals overruled all of them by holding Jordan was not entitled to an instruction on self-defense with regard to deadly conduct because his theory of entitlement was based exclusively on Royal’s conduct; there was no evidence that the alleged victims used deadly force against Jordan. As Jordan was not entitled to an instruction on self-defense, any infirmities were harmless.
Jordan’s questions presented are based on the “multiple assailants” theory of justification. Although he disputes the lower court’s contention that no evidence showed any threat from Varley or Crumpton, he argues that it should not matter because they were part of a group 1) that pursued Jordan and Bryan, and 2) a member of which caused Bryan serious bodily injury and was attacking Jordan. If a jury could conclude that his perception of a mob and Royal’s threat to him were reasonable, it should have been permitted to transfer that reasonableness to his deadly conduct toward other members of the group.