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Name: People v. Cota (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 318
Case #: F085451
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/17/2023
Summary

Despite filing an unauthorized motion for resentencing under Penal Code section 1172.75, the trial court had jurisdiction to adjudicate defendant’s request for resentencing after CDCR identified him as eligible for resentencing under Senate Bill No. 483. In 2016, defendant was sentenced to various felony sentences as well as six prior prison term enhancements under Penal Code section 667.5(b) and several other enhancements. In April 2022, defendant filed a petition for resentencing pursuant to former section 1171 (now renumbered § 1172.7) and former section 1171.1 (now renumbered § 1172.75), as enacted by SB 483. In December 2022, the court conducted a resentencing hearing at which it dismissed the prior prison term enhancements but did not make additional changes to the sentence. Defendant appealed. The Court of Appeal requested supplemental briefing as to whether the trial court had jurisdiction to adjudicate defendant’s request for resentencing “inasmuch as section 1172.75 does not expressly provide for a petition or a motion process.” Held: Affirmed. Section 1172.75 does not authorize a defendant to seek resentencing on his or her own motion or petition. Rather the process is triggered by CDCR identifying a defendant as a person serving a sentence that includes a prior prison term enhancement. Here, defendant filed an unauthorized motion for resentencing. The motion was procedurally improper, and the trial court could have denied it on that basis. However, the court did not do so. Rather, the court took no immediate action on defendant’s motion. Eventually, during the pendency of the motion, CDCR identified defendant as an individual potentially eligible for resentencing. When CDCR provided this identification to the trial court, it triggered the trial court’s review and resentencing obligations under section 1172.75(b), thereby placing the matter within a statutorily authorized exception to the general rule that a trial court has no jurisdiction to modify a final judgment. [Editor’s Note: This case creates a split of authority, as the Court of Appeal here disagrees with People v. Escobedo (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 440, “to the extent that case suggests that a court lacks jurisdiction to resentence a defendant” identified by CDCR as eligible for section 1172.75 resentencing “simply because that defendant also has filed a motion for such relief.”]

Penal Code section 1385(c)(2)(B), added by Senate Bill No. 81, does not mandate dismissal of any enhancement. Based on principles of statutory interpretation, and after looking at SB 81’s legislative history, the court determined that the phrase “shall be dismissed,” as used in section 1385(c)(2)(B) is not mandatory and does not require dismissal of any enhancement when doing so would endanger public safety.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/F085451.PDF