Monday, November 30, 2009

People v. Zarazuza (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 30, 2009)

I love the color of this opinion. Which the Court of Appeal published earlier today.

The good stuff is in the first page or so, which reads:

"We publish this order to put to rest a challenge to a procedure commonly used by defendants to perfect appeals from judgments in criminal cases.

After his trial attorney failed timely to file a notice of appeal, despite a request to do so, defendant Sergio Zarazua asked this court to deem his notice of appeal to be timely under the “constructive filing doctrine.” [Citation] The People now move for us to vacate and reconsider our order granting defendant's motion. They contend that a request for constructive filing of an appeal may be sought only by a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed first in the superior court. Alternatively, the People claim we should not have granted defendant's motion for constructive filing of his appeal without waiting until expiration of the 15-day period for the People to oppose the motion. . . .

For years, the common way in which the issue has been raised in the Third Appellate District has been by motion. And for years, the People have not objected to this procedure. Indeed, for years, the People have not opposed such motions of constructive filing of appeals, even when they have lacked merit. In light of the People's apparent lack of interest in weighing in on the issue in any case, this court began ruling on such motions before the 15-day period for opposition has run. For example, in this case we waited 15 days after the motion was served on the People, but not 15 days after it was filed. Only now, after years of silence, have the People objected to the process used by this court. Although we reject the People's claim that the constructive filing doctrine can be raised solely by petition for writ of habeas corpus filed first in the trial court, we agree that, while the People have heretofore shown no interest in opposing motions for constructive filing of appeal, we nonetheless must wait to decide such a motion only after at least 15 days have passed since the filing of the motion.

Having opposed the process in this case, the People mysteriously fail to make any meaningful effort to show that defendant's motion lacks merit. Since the People have demonstrated no prejudice from our premature ruling that defendant's appeal will be deemed timely under the constructive filing doctrine, we shall deny the People's “motion to vacate and reconsider” the order."

I like it. Judicialese for: "Are you serious?"