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Name: In re Chavez
Case #: S099172
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/15/2003

Rule 45(e) does not authorize the Court of Appeal to relieve a defendant from default resulting from the failure to timely file a statement of reasonable grounds for appeal after a guilty plea as required by Penal Code section 1237.5. Defendant did not ask his trial counsel to file a notice of appeal. An attorney visited him in prison after sentencing and promised to review the file to determine whether to represent appellant on appeal, but he did not agree to represent appellant or file any document on his behalf. One day before expiration of the 60 day period to file a statement of reasonable grounds (a prerequisite to obtaining a certificate of probable cause), that attorney told defendant’s aunt that he saw no adequate grounds for appeal and declined to represent appellant. About a month later, appellant sent a motion to file a belated notice of appeal to an appellate program, explaining his mail was delayed in prison by three weeks and he had only recently learned that the attorney had declined to represent him on appeal. Eventually, a habeas petition was granted in the Court of Appeal on the ground that defendant had shown good cause for relief. The Supreme Court reversed. The Court expressly disapproved language in previous cases indicating that relief from default could be obtained for failure to file a timely statement of reasons. The Court also rejected the contention that the doctrine of constructive filing of an appeal was applicable in this case. Here defendant did not receive representations from an attorney that a timely notice of appeal would be filed. If the only delay attributable to an attorney is failing to inform the defendant as early as possible that the attorney will not undertake the appeal, the doctrine of constructive filing of a notice of appeal does not apply.