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Preemptive Prisoner Assault Not Justified As Self Defense

In an unpublished opinion by the California Court of Appeals, State
prisoner Travis Thompson, an African-American, was denied a defense of
preemptive assault upon a Hispanic prisoner, allegedly to prevent such an
attack upon him. Thompson was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.
The trial court rejected Thompson's right to self-representation, excluded
evidence of violence by Hispanic prisoners against African-Americans, and
refused to strike evidence that he had two prior felony convictions. The
trial court also denied Thompson's request for a new trial based upon
alleged juror misconduct. He appealed the decision.

The appellate court held that Thompson's self-representation was
terminated because he insisted upon a line of witness questioning deemed
irrelevant by the trial court. The exclusion of evidence of violence by
Hispanic prisoners against African-Americans was cumulative and unduly
time-consuming. Thomson failed to raise the issue of using prior felony
convictions during trial and sentencing phases to aggravate his sentence,
thus he was foreclosed from bringing such argument on appeal. Although
juror statements based upon Correctional Officer experience were probably
misconduct, the Court found no prejudice. See: People vs. Thompson, Case
No. D044829, 2005 WL 1925848 (Cal.App. 4 Dist., 2005) (Not Reported in

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Related legal case

People vs. Thompson