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Name: People v. Masotti
Case #: C056320
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/28/2008

The trial court can grant a new trial only on a ground raised in the motion for a new trial and is without authority to grant a new trial on its own motion (Pen. Code, sec. 1181). Appellant was convicted by jury trial of cultivation of marijuana and two counts of furnishing marijuana. He filed a motion for a new trial on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. The court granted the motion for a new trial on different grounds, i.e., stating that it was on the basis of instructional error, and the People appealed. In their opening brief, the People only addressed the sufficiency of evidence. The appellate court agreed that technically the People had forfeited the right to argue error with regard to the trial court’s ruling as to inadequate jury instructions but chose to consider the issue under its authority to address arguments where necessary. Interpreting Penal Code section 1181, the appellate court found that the trial court exceeded its authority in granting a new trial on grounds other than that raised by appellant.