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Name: Jackson v. Superior Court
Case #: H035137
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/03/2010

A trial court can reconsider and vacate an order granting habeas relief during the 60-day window to appeal from that decision as long as a notice of appeal has not been filed thereby divesting the trial court of jurisdiction. This case arose after the trial court granted a writ of habeas corpus based on secret videotapes of SART exams in Santa Clara County. Rather than file an appeal, the prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration, which the trial court granted. In this case of first impression, the appellate court considered whether a trial court can reconsider its decision to grant habeas relief before the time to appeal has expired and the order becomes final. The court concluded that, as long as a notice of appeal had not yet been filed by the People, the trial court could do so based on its inherent power in criminal cases to grant rehearing or reconsider rulings, such as motions for new trial or to vacate the judgment. This inherent power ends only with a loss of jurisdiction, which is triggered by the filing of a notice of appeal. And while habeas proceedings are viewed as civil actions, that label is not dispositive because they are of a criminal nature in that they seek to overturn criminal judgments. The Court of Appeal found the People’s motion for reconsideration akin to a non-statutory motion to vacate the judgment. It reviewed the grant of the motion for reconsideration under the abuse of discretion standard, and found that under the facts there had been no such abuse.