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Name: People v. Garvin
Case #: F040610
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/11/2003
Subsequent History: None

Appellant was involved in an altercation with two deputies while he was incarcerated, and was charged with attempted murder. At his trial, he claimed he acted in self-defense, and that the deputies had beaten him before. The jury found him guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted voluntary manslaughter. On appeal, he argued that the trial court had a sua sponte duty to instruct on the effect of the deputies’ antecedent assaults on the reasonableness of his conduct. The appellate court affirmed. Although the trial court has a duty to so instruct when requested to do so, it had no sua sponte duty. Although it was obligated to instruct on the basic principles of self-defense, which it did, the instruction at issue is analogous to a clarifying instruction, which is required to be given upon request. Appellant’s counsel was not ineffective for failing to request such an instruction because it was an objectively reasonable tactical decision, as such an attack on the jail staff could have destroyed appellant’s credibility and turned the jury against him. Further, it might have provided a motive for appellant to murder the deputies, decimating appellant’s argument that he had no intent to kill.