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Name: People v. Dutra
Case #: C051198
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/20/2006

Courts exercising inferior jurisdiction must accept the law declared by courts of superior jurisdiction. The terms of the remittitur define the trial court’s jurisdiction, not the law of the case. Further, the reviewing court cannot review or modify its own judgments once the cause has passed from its control by the issuance of the remittitur. In this case, in a prior opinion, the court gave the People the option of either agreeing to imposition of the midterm sentence or accepting a remand to allow a sentencing trial in accord with the holding in Blakely v. Washington (2004) 524 U.S. 296. The People declined the former option and the case was remanded with the remittitur issuing. People v. Black (2005) 35 Cal.4th 1238, finding that a sentencing trial is not ordinarily necessary when a defendant is sentenced under the Determinate Sentencing Law, was decided and the trial court did not conduct the ordered trial. But the appellate court ruled that once the remittitur issued, appellant had a legal right to a sentencing hearing and the trial court’s refusal to hold the hearing was outside its jurisdiction.