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People v. Picklesimer

March 15, 2010


Ct.App. 3 C056385 Trinity County Super. Ct. No. 92CR065 Judge: James Woodward.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Werdegar, J.

In People v. Hofsheier (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1185, 1207 (Hofsheier), we concluded imposition of mandatory lifetime sex offender registration on defendants convicted of violations of Penal Code section 288a, subdivision (b)(1)*fn1 for voluntary oral copulation with a 16- or 17- year-old minor violated the state and federal equal protection clauses. Our decision resulted in the creation of a class of people, those convicted of violating section 288a, subdivision (b)(1) on or before the date of our decision, who potentially might be entitled to relief from mandatory lifetime registration but for whom the precise procedural method of asserting such a claim for relief was uncertain. We resolve that uncertainty here.

We conclude that for those like defendant Andrew Nelson Picklesimer, who are no longer in custody and whose appeals are final, claims for Hofsheier relief - relief from mandatory lifetime sex offender registration based on equal protection - must be brought by way of a petition for writ of mandate in the trial court. A freestanding postjudgment motion for Hofsheier relief, such as the one Picklesimer filed, is not cognizable, as the trial court and Court of Appeal correctly concluded.

A court may in its discretion treat such a postjudgment motion as a mislabeled petition for writ of mandate. In this case, however, for us to do so is not appropriate. This is because defendants who assert a claim for Hofsheier relief and establish a right to relief from mandatory sex offender registration may still be subject to discretionary registration under section 290.006, and the record before us does not conclusively establish that Picklesimer is exempt from discretionary registration and thus entitled to relief.

Accordingly, we affirm, without prejudice to Picklesimer's ability to file a petition for writ of mandate in the trial court seeking Hofsheier relief.

Factual and Procedural Background

In 1993, Picklesimer pleaded guilty to violations of sections 261.5 (sexual intercourse with a minor), 288a, subdivision (b)(1) (oral copulation with a minor), and 289, subdivision (h) (sexual penetration of a minor) and was sentenced to four years four months in prison. As an automatic consequence of the oral copulation and sexual penetration convictions, Picklesimer was required to register as a sex offender. (Former § 290, subd. (a)(2)(A), now § 290, subd. (c).) On appeal, the judgment was affirmed. Picklesimer completed his sentence and was released from custody.

In October 2006, after our decision in Hofsheier, Picklesimer filed a motion in the trial court asking to be removed from the state sex offender registry and relieved from his lifetime registration obligation. At a hearing on the motion, the trial court ruled it lacked jurisdiction, noting Picklesimer had failed to identify any authority that would permit the court to rule on such a freestanding motion. Picklesimer appealed.

The Court of Appeal agreed that the trial court lacked jurisdiction. Accordingly, it concluded Picklesimer was not aggrieved by the trial court's order denying his motion (see § 1237, subd. (b)), the order was therefore unappealable, and the appeal must be dismissed.

We granted review to address the proper treatment of claims for relief under Hofsheier. Discussion

I. Claims for Hofsheier Relief by Individuals No Longer in Custody Must Be Brought by Way of a Petition for Writ of Mandate

In Hofsheier, supra, 37 Cal.4th 1185, we considered a constitutional challenge to the mandatory sex offender registration requirement imposed for convictions under section 288a, subdivision (b)(1) (oral copulation with a minor) in light of the absence of any similar requirement for convictions under section 261.5 (sexual intercourse with a minor). We concluded that, at least for voluntary oral copulation with a 16- or 17-year-old minor, the registration requirement could not withstand rational basis review and, accordingly, was a violation of equal protection. (Hofsheier, at pp. 1200-1207.) Following our decision in Hofsheier, the Department of Justice advised Picklesimer and others of the possibility they could be eligible to have their names removed from the state sex offender registry.

Picklesimer sought relief by filing a motion in the trial court, purportedly as part of People v. Picklesimer (Super. Ct. Trinity County, 1993, No. 92CR065), the People's long-since-final criminal prosecution of him. However, "[t]here is no statutory authority for a trial court to entertain a postjudgment motion that is unrelated to any proceeding then pending before the court. [Citation.] Indeed, a motion is not an independent remedy. It is ancillary to an on-going action and ` "implies the pendency of a suit between the parties and is confined to incidental matters in the progress of the cause. As the rule is sometimes expressed, a motion relates to some question collateral to the main object of the action and is connected with, and dependent on, the principal remedy." ' [Citation.] In most cases, after the judgment has become final, there is nothing pending to which a motion may attach." (Lewis v. Superior Court (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 70, 76-77.)

Although exceptions to the rule precluding postjudgment motions exist,*fn2 Picklesimer does not demonstrate persuasively that any apply. Relying on one of our more ancient pronouncements, he argues that once the Court of Appeal issued its remittitur after affirming the original judgment, the trial court's jurisdiction over the case, largely suspended during the pendency of the appeal, resumed. (See People v. Dick (1870) 39 Cal. 102, 103-104.) While this is true, the argument speaks only to the allocation of jurisdiction between trial courts and Courts of Appeal and does not address the core issue - the actual scope of the trial court's postjudgment jurisdiction. Following appellate affirmance of a trial court judgment and issuance of a remittitur, "the trial court is revested with jurisdiction of the case, but only to carry out the judgment as ordered by the appellate court." (People v. Dutra (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 1359, 1366; see ยง 1265, subd. (a) [following receipt of remittitur, the trial court has jurisdiction to issue "all orders necessary to carry the judgment into effect"].) As both parties recognize, Picklesimer's registration requirements and placement in the state sex offender ...

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