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Name: People v. Mount
Case #: A161195
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/15/2021

Trial court properly dismissed a Penal Code section 1170.18, subdivision (f) (Prop. 47) petition filed by an attorney on behalf of a deceased defendant, where there was no showing how granting the petition would provide a benefit. Defendant died in 2012. In 2020, the public defender filed a petition under section 1170.18 to have his 1998 felony conviction designated as a misdemeanor. The trial court dismissed the petition and the public defender appealed. Held: Appeal dismissed. A petition to recall a sentence and designate a felony as a misdemeanor under 1170.18, subdivision (f) is moot where there is no showing that granting the petition would provide any effective relief. Here, granting the petition would offer no benefit to defendant, rendering the appeal moot. Although the appellate attorney argued that mootness should not preclude review because the appeal presented a novel question of public concern, there was no evidence or argument presented “that heirs or anyone else have a compelling interest, reputational or otherwise, in having defendants’ convictions redesignated years after the defendants have died.” Neither is defendant entitled to have the judgment abated. When a criminal defendant dies while the direct appeal is pending, the appellate court issues an order of abatement, instead of dismissing the appeal, because the presumption of innocence follows the accused until final judgment is entered. But defendant’s judgment was final decades earlier. Because no effective relief can be granted to defendant, and there has been no showing of a wider public interest in redesignating felony convictions of deceased defendants, the court dismissed the appeal in the interests of justice. [Editor’s Note: Although the opinion noted that there was a question whether the public defender or appellate counsel could even represent defendant without consent of a personal representative of defendant, it did not address the issue in light of its conclusion that the matter must be dismissed as moot.]