California v. JohnAnnotate this Case
Defendant Shelly John was permitted to plead guilty to felony offenses alleged against her. The trial court accepted a stipulation she was insane at the time she committed the offenses, and she should serve her sentence in a state hospital where her sanity could be restores. Less than five months after defendant’s commitment, she moved to withdraw her plea. The trial court denied the motion as untimely, presumably because it believed judgment had already been entered. In her brief, defendant argued, and the State conceded, defendant’s motion was timely because judgment had not yet been entered, and the case should be remanded for the trial court to consider the motion on its merits. Although the Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that judgment was never entered and, consequently, defendant’s motion to withdraw her guilty plea was timely filed, it concluded nonetheless the root of the problem in this case was the unauthorized and illegal plea bargain the trial court should not have accepted in the first place. Therefore, rather than merely reverse and remand for a hearing on the merits of defendant’s motion to withdraw her plea, the Court determined the proper remedy was to vacate the plea agreement in its entirety and return the parties to the status quo ante. On remand, the defendant will be permitted to enter a new plea and, if the parties again negotiate a plea agreement, the trial court must determine whether it is lawful and should be accepted.