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Name: People v. Nesbitt
Case #: B218373
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/22/2010

Whether the trial court has jurisdiction to reconsider an order dismissing a count in the information depends on whether the order is a final or an interim order. At the commencement of trial on six counts of sexual abuse, appellant brought a motion to dismiss some counts, arguing the counts were time-barred and the statue of limitations was not otherwise extended. The court indicated its intention to dismiss two counts and the minute order reflected the counts were dismissed pursuant to Penal Code section 1385. The following day, the prosecutor, providing the court with additional authority, moved to reinstate the counts. The court determined that it had made a legal error, and granted the motion. Following his conviction, appellant appealed, claiming the court had lost jurisdiction and had no authority to reinstate the two counts. The appellate court disagreed. A trial court has inherent powers that include authority to rehear or reconsider rulings. Such power ends only with the court’s loss of jurisdiction, which occurs when the order becomes final. Here, the appellate court found that the dismissal order had not become final and the court had not lost jurisdiction to revisit the issue [this despite the order being entered into the minutes]. When the order was reconsidered, there was no final resolution of the case – the trial was ongoing, guilt or innocence had not been determined, and no final judgment had been entered in the case from which an appeal could have been taken so as to deprive the trial court of jurisdiction. The dismissal of a count on an issue of law, when others were still to be tried, was viewed as an interim order and could be reconsidered, particularly as there was no prejudice to appellant.