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Name: People v. Scarbrough
Case #: C075414
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/29/2015

Trial court lacks jurisdiction to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47 (Pen. Code, § 1170.18) while an appeal from that felony conviction is pending. Scarbrough pled no contest to two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance and was placed on probation. While on probation, she pled no contest to felony child endangerment and admitted probation violations. The trial court revoked probation and sentenced her to prison in 2013. She appealed. Following the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014, Scarbrough filed a petition in the trial court for resentencing of her felony drug possession convictions to misdemeanors, which was granted. Thereafter, she attempted to abandon her appeal but the Court of Appeal denied the request so it could address whether the trial court possessed concurrent jurisdiction to entertain a Proposition 47 petition. Held: The trial court lacked concurrent jurisdiction. As a general rule, the filing of a notice of appeal divests the trial court of jurisdiction and vests it in the Court of Appeal. But there are a number of exceptions where concurrent jurisdiction is permitted: to correct an unauthorized sentence; to recall and resentence the defendant within 120 days under Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d); and to hear writs of habeas corpus. The Court of Appeal rejected Scarbrough’s analogy of Proposition 47 to each of those exceptions. Instead, guided by the reasoning of People v. Yearwood (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 161, the Court of Appeal concluded that section 1170.18 did not create an exception to the general rule that a trial court may not issue an order affecting judgment while an appeal is pending. The court also concluded that this result did not frustrate the voter’s intent, thwart judicial economy, or force petitioners into an untenable dilemma of having to elect between pursuing an appeal or obtaining Proposition 47 relief.