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State v. Briggs

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

January 16, 2018

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA,
v.
ANTRAVIOUS QUANEALIOUS BRIGGS, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 15 November 2017.

         Appeal by defendant from order entered 13 July 2016 by Judge Christopher W. Bragg in Union County Superior Court No. 13 CRS 052761.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Kimberly N. Callahan, for the State.

          Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender David W. Andrews, for defendant-appellant.

          ZACHARY, JUDGE.

         The issue presented is whether the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter an order denying defendant's motion for post-conviction DNA testing pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-269 while defendant's appeal from the original judgment of conviction was pending. We conclude that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, and vacate the court's order.

         Background

         Defendant Antravious Quanealious Briggs was convicted of attempted second-degree sexual offense and sentenced to 73-100 months in prison on 10 November 2014. Defendant gave notice of appeal the same day. On 6 April 2016, while his appeal was pending in this Court, defendant filed a pro se Motion to Locate and Preserve Evidence and Motion for Post-Conviction DNA Testing pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-269. The trial court denied defendant's motion on 13 July 2016, while defendant's appeal was still pending. Defendant timely filed notice of appeal from the denial of his motion for post-conviction DNA testing. On 16 August 2016, this Court issued an opinion in defendant's original appeal, vacating his sentence and remanding the case to the trial court for re-sentencing. State v. Briggs, __ N.C.App. __, 790 S.E.2d 671 (2016). The mandate issued on 6 September 2016.

         On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter the order denying his motion for post-conviction DNA testing because the trial court was divested of jurisdiction over the case from the date on which defendant gave his initial notice of appeal of the 10 November 2014 judgment until the date on which this Court's mandate issued.

         Standard of Review

         "Whether a trial court has subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law, reviewed de novo on appeal." State v. Herman, 221 N.C.App. 204, 209, 726 S.E.2d 863, 866 (2012) (citation omitted). Under de novo review, this Court considers the matter anew and freely substitutes its own judgment for that of the trial court. State v. Williams, 362 N.C. 628, 632-33, 669 S.E.2d 290, 294 (2008). Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised by any party "at any time, even for the first time on appeal[.]" State v. Kostick, 233 N.C.App. 62, 72, 755 S.E.2d 411, 418 (2014).

         Discussion

         Subject matter jurisdiction is "the authority of a court to adjudicate the type of controversy presented by the action before it, and is conferred upon the courts by either the North Carolina Constitution or by statute." State v. Petty, 212 N.C.App. 368, 371, 711 S.E.2d 509, 512 (2011) (citations and quotation marks omitted) (alterations omitted). "A trial court must have subject matter jurisdiction over a case in order to act in that case." State v. Satanek, 190 N.C.App. 653, 656, 660 S.E.2d 623, 625 (2008). Where a court enters an order without jurisdiction to do so, the order is void ab initio, State v. Sams, 317 N.C. 230, 235, 345 S.E.2d 179, 182 (1986), and "the appropriate action on the part of the appellate court is to arrest judgment or vacate [the] order entered without authority." State v. Felmet, 302 N.C. 173, 176, 273 S.E.2d 708, 711 (1981).

         Generally, in criminal cases, "a particular judge's jurisdiction over a particular case terminates at the end of the session at which a particular case is heard and decided." Petty, 212 N.C.App. at 374, 711 S.E.2d at 513. Even where a statute allows the trial court to act beyond the close of the original session, "[t]he jurisdiction of the trial court with regard to the case" will remain divested as of the filing of a notice of appeal. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1448(a)(3) (2016); State v. Williams, 177 N.C.App. 725, 731, 630 S.E.2d 216, 221 (2006), disc. review denied, 360 N.C. 581, 636 S.E.2d 198 (2006); Petty, 212 N.C.App. at 373, 711 S.E.2d at 513. Once a notice of appeal has been filed, the trial court retains jurisdiction only over matters that are "ancillary to the appeal[.]" N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1453 (2016); State v. Davis, 123 N.C.App. 240, 242, 472 S.E.2d 392, 393 (1996). A matter that is ancillary to the appeal typically involves the correction of a clerical error, as doing so does not implicate the trial court "exercis[ing] any judicial discretion or undertak[ing] any judicial reasoning[.]" State v. Everette, 237 N.C.App. 35, 43, 764 S.E.2d 634, 640 (2014); see e.g., Davis, 123 N.C.App. at 242-43, 472 S.E.2d at 393-94. On the other hand, a "trial court lacks jurisdiction to correct judicial errors, or address ...


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