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Name: CALCRIM No. 571
Summary

On appeal after his conviction for second degree murder, defendant argued he was denied a fair trial when the court failed to properly instruct the jury. The Court of Appeal agreed the jury was improperly instructed as to the wrongful conduct portion of CALCRIM No. 571 and that defendant was thereby prejudiced. There was not substantial evidence that defendant committed the sort of wrongful conduct that would preclude imperfect self-defense, i.e., that he was the initial aggressor as opposed to merely approaching the victim’s living area. By telling the jury that defendant’s approach of the victim was sufficiently wrongful to preclude self-defense, when the approach itself did not legally justify the victim’s use of force, the instruction as used by the prosecutor misstated the law and improperly removed defendant’s theory of self-defense from the jury’s consideration. The court reversed the judgment and remand for a new trial.