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Name: People v. Berg
Case #: D073749
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/29/2019

Once the reviewing court affirmed an order granting a habeas petition, trial court lacked jurisdiction to reconsider its decision based on a change in the law. In 1997, Berg pleaded guilty to murder committed during a robbery and was sentenced to LWOP. He was 17 years old when he committed the crime. In 2014, he filed a habeas petition arguing his LWOP sentence for a crime committed as a juvenile violated the Eighth Amendment. The trial court granted the petition and ordered a resentencing that comported with the requirements of Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. 460. The prosecution appealed. The appellate court affirmed. After issuance of the remittitur, the prosecution asked the trial court to reconsider and vacate its decision, anticipating that Senate Bill No. 394, which extends the youthful parole benefits to LWOP defendants, would moot Berg’s Eighth Amendment claim. The trial court granted the request. Berg appealed. Held: Reversed as void. An order granting a petition for writ of habeas corpus is analogous to a final judgement and is appealable by the prosecution. While a trial court has inherent power to reconsider its order granting a habeas petition, this authority ends when the trial court loses jurisdiction due to finality or the filing of an appeal. An unqualified affirmance ordinarily sustains the judgment and ends the litigation. A trial court does not have jurisdiction to reopen or retry a case after unqualified affirmance of a prior final judgment. While a change in the law may permit a petitioner to file a new habeas proceeding, it does not extend jurisdiction in a concluded proceeding. Finally, as to the prosecution’s argument it would not be fair to bind them to a habeas ruling that has been undermined by a change in the law, it can only be said “that timing often matters in the law.”

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: