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Jury Instruction On Alternate Legal Theory Of Defense

Manuel v. State, relied upon by the majority, deals with the impropriety of rejecting a requested instruction that was "in improper form" yet "embodied a legally correct theory of the defendant's defense." Manuel v. State, 667 So. 2d 590, 593 (Miss. 1995).

The Manuel decision imposes a duty on the trial court to bring its legal skills to bear on a poorly drawn instruction that attempts to raise a valid defense instead of rejecting it out of hand because of its imperfections. Nothing in Manuel v. State suggests a duty of the trial court to sua sponte instruct on an alternate legal theory of defense simply because that alternate theory could be incorporated into an existing instruction dealing with a somewhat related concept.

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