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Name: People v. Ramirez
Case #: G056522
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/10/2019
Summary

On remand for resentencing in adult court, trial court had jurisdiction to transfer case involving juvenile offenders to the juvenile court, which has jurisdiction to hold a transfer hearing for defendants who are now over 25 years old. In 2007, Ramirez and Armendariz committed two gang-related murders when they were 16 years old. Following a trial in adult court, Ramirez was sentenced to LWOP, plus 65 years to life, and Armendariz was sentenced to 90 years to life. In their first appeal, their sentences were reversed and the case was remanded for resentencing. Following the remand, defendants filed a motion requesting the trial court remand their case to the juvenile court based on recently enacted Proposition 57, which eliminated direct filing of charges against juveniles in adult court, and People v. Superior Court (Lara) (2018) 4 Cal.5th 299, which held that Proposition 57 applies retroactively to all cases not yet final at the time it was enacted. Over the prosecution’s objection, the trial court granted the motion. The People appealed, arguing that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to hold a transfer hearing because defendants have aged out of the juvenile system. Held: Affirmed. The People did not dispute that Proposition 57 applies in this case. To cure a Proposition 57 violation, Lara approved the remedy of remanding the case to the juvenile court to hold a transfer hearing. However, the court did not address whether a criminal matter may be remanded to juvenile court to hold a transfer hearing where the defendants have aged out of the juvenile system. After interpreting various statutes involving the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over defendants who are no longer minors, the Court of Appeal concluded the defendants (who were now over 25 years old) were entitled to a juvenile court transfer hearing. While the juvenile court has no continuing jurisdiction over defendants, it has “initial” jurisdiction under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, which includes jurisdiction to hold a transfer hearing.

The trial court’s transfer order is appealable by the People under Penal Code section 1238 as an order made after judgment, affecting the substantial rights of the people. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss this appeal, arguing that the trial court’s transfer order was not appealable. The Court of Appeal disagreed. The trial court’s transfer order is appealable under Penal Code section 1238, subdivision (a)(5), as an “order made after judgment, affecting the substantial rights of the people.” In the prior appeal, the Court of Appeal did not reverse the judgment; it remanded to permit the prosecutor to retry one charge or accept a reduced sentence, and otherwise remanded for resentencing. Thus, the order transferring the matter to juvenile court was a post-judgment order. The trial court’s decision to transfer the matter to the juvenile court instead of resentencing the defendants “affected the People’s substantial right to enforce a judgment in adult court, and impacted the People’s ability to carry out its prosecutorial duties in the future.” (Quotations and citations omitted.)

Trial court’s consideration of newly enacted Proposition 57 was not beyond the scope of the remittitur. In the prior appeal, the court remanded the matter with directions to the trial court to resentence both defendants in accordance with the requirements outlined in People v. Gutierrez (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1354, which requires a sentencing court to consider youth-related factors. In this appeal, the People argued that the trial court’s transfer order exceeded the scope of the remittitur. The Court of Appeal disagreed. When an appellate court remands a matter with directions governing the proceedings on remand, those directions are binding on the trial court and must be followed. “The order of the reviewing court is contained in its remittitur, which defines the scope of the jurisdiction of the court to which the matter is returned.” (Griset v. Fair Political Practices Com. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 688, 701.) Any material variance from the directions is unauthorized and void. Here, the matter was remanded for resentencing. In this situation, the trial court was entitled to consider the entire sentencing scheme. The trial court had jurisdiction to consider any and all factors that would affect sentencing. To comply with the remittitur, the trial court was required to consider the effect of Proposition 57 and issue any related orders. This could include transferring the matter to the juvenile court to hold a transfer hearing. Therefore, the trial court’s transfer order was not outside the scope of the remittitur.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/G056522.PDF