Legal Aid Society


LAS Lauds Grand Jury for Clearing Minor in Textbook Case of Self-Defense

The Legal Aid Society is lauding a Staten Island grand jury that declined to indict a 14-year-old client (John Doe) in a clear case of self-defense, as reported by the New York Daily News.

Last month, Mr. Doe and his friends were on the Staten Island train en route to the mall when a 51-year-old man began verbally threatening the group. After Mr. Doe and his friends exited the train, the adult approached the group and proceeded to physically assault Mr. Doe’s friend, a 13-year-old girl.

Mr. Doe rushed to the aid of his friend, who, in an act of self-defense, employed a knife to free herself of the attacker. Mr. Doe also used physical force to fend off the adult to rescue his friend.

Mr. Doe was arrested and charged with attempted murder in the second degree, but after evidence was presented before a Staten Island grand jury, the body declined to indict because Mr. Doe was acting in his own defense and the defense of his 13-year-old friend.

“This is a textbook case of self-defense, and we laud the Staten Island grand jury for acknowledging that reality by declining to indict our young client despite desperate attempts from local elected officials who sought to politicize this incident to advance their false narratives on bail reform and Raise the Age,” said Marisa Filupeit, Esq., an attorney with the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society.

Both Staten Island borough president Vito Fossella and Congressperson Nicole Malliotakis had publicly referenced the case in ill-conceived critiques of New York State’s criminal justice reforms.

“It’s alarming that our elected officials would rush to demonize our young client before learning the facts of the case,” Filupeit continued. “This outcome will allow Mr. Doe to move past this traumatizing experience at home, supported by his family and community.”