State v. Seifert

In State v. Seifert (1990) 155 Wis. 2d 53 454 N.W.2d 346, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, interpreting its imperfect self-defense statute that provides for "imperfect self-defense manslaughter" when a defendant causes death "unnecessarily, in the exercise of his privilege of self-defense or defense of others or the privilege to prevent or terminate the commission of a felony," held that imperfect self-defense was "never intended to cover situations ... where it is entirely the defendant's mental disease or defect, not an error in judgment or perception or a negligently-formed perspective of the situation, that motivates the defendant's actions." (Id. at pp. 349-350, 352) The court explained "that unnecessary or unreasonable acts in the context of imperfect self-defense manslaughter refer to acts resulting from an error in judgment or perception in contrast to the acts of a person of ordinary intelligence and prudence, not to acts resulting from a complete absence of reason and rational thought." (Id. at p. 352, fn. 5.) The court concluded that "when a defendant's unlawful actions are totally the product of the defendant's mental illness, the law relieves the defendant of criminal responsibility for those actions" by a finding of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. (Id. at p. 353.)