Posted 12/3/2014

In State v. Villa-Barrera, 2014 WL 6724964 (Minn.App. December 1, 2014) the defendant failed to appear, but the court stayed a bench warrant and continued the hearing for two weeks.  The bond was not forfeited, and the surety was not notified.  When the defendant did not appear for the continued hearing, the court forfeited the bond and the surety was notified.  The surety was unable to locate the defendant and moved to reinstate and discharge the bond.  The Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the surety’s motion.  The obligation to notify the surety is triggered by forfeiture of the bond, not the defendant’s failure to appear.  Since the bond was not forfeited upon the first failure to appear, there was no duty to notify the surety.  Applying the Shetsky factors, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing the reinstate and discharge the bond; therefore, the Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

In State v. Thomes, 2014 WL 6490179 (Vt. September 26, 2014) the trial court set as conditions of release a $10,000 bail bond and that a responsible adult take custody of the defendant.  The Court affirmed the second but reversed with respect to the bond.  The Court held that “The sole constitutionally legitimate purpose of bail is to mitigate the risk of the defendant absconding” and a bail bond requirement could not be used to protect the community or the defendant himself from harm.  There was no finding, or basis in the record to find, that the defendant was likely to abscond.

In People v. International Fidelity Insurance Co., 2014 WL 6467250 (Cal.App. November 19, 2014) the Court rejected the surety’s argument that summary judgment on the bail bond forfeiture was void because it was entered by the trial court after the surety had noted its appeal of the trial court’s denial of the surety’s motion to vacate the forfeiture.  The Court held that the very specific time limit set forth in Penal Code §1306(a) controlled over the general rule stated in Code of Civ. Proc. §916 that perfecting an appeal stays further proceedings in the trial court.  The Court relied on the recent reported case of People v. Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Co., 171 Cal.Rptr.3d 589 (Cal.App. 2014).  [Not published].

In Affordable Bail Bonds, Inc. v. State, Case No. 13-1138, 2014 Ark.App. 657 (Ark.App. November 19, 2014) the defendant and his attorney did not appear on October 22, 2012, and the court entered an order for issuance of a warrant and a summons/order to the surety, however, they were not served.  On November 26, the defendant and his attorney appeared and the court nolle prosed the charge of failure to appear on October 22.  Trial was set for May 14, 2013.  The defendant did not appear on May 14, and the surety was served the next day with notice of the May 14 failure to appear.  On August 20 the court entered judgment forfeiting the bond.  The surety appealed and argued that it was not given notice “immediately” of the October 22 failure to appear as required by Ark. Code §16-804-207.  The court agreed that a delay from October 22 to May 15 would not be “immediate” but noted that forfeiture of the bond was based on the second, May 14 failure to appear and that notice was “immediate” as to it.  The Court distinguished its decision in Holt Bonding Co. v. State, 72 S.W.3d 537 (2002) because here the defendant was never considered a fugitive for the October 22 failure to appear, which was explained by his attorney.  The Court also rejected the surety’s argument that it was not properly served with notice of the May 15 summons because it was sent by mail and signed for by an employee who was not an officer or registered agent.  Service by certified mail signed for by an employee was sufficient.  The Court affirmed forfeiture of the bond.