Posted 3/25/2015

In State v. Pugh, 2015 WL 1083533 (N.J.Super.A.D. March 13, 2015) the defendant was arrested by law enforcement 48 days after he failed to appear.  The bail agent had contacted him prior to the appearance date and sought to locate him after the bench warrant was issued.  The trial court did not conduct an evidentiary hearing and denied any remission of the forfeiture.  The bail agent and surety appealed.  The Court reversed and remanded the case and stated, “We conclude that [the agent and surety] have demonstrated entitlement to some remission.  We remand for amplification of the record, particularly with regard to the important question of whether the accused committed another offense while a fugitive.”

In Carlone v. Prims, 2015 WL 1003022 (Conn.Super. February 13, 2015) several licensed bail agents were attempting to recover the defendant when they engaged in a high speed car pursuit that ended when the defendant crashed his car and died.  The defendant’s heirs sued the bail agents and surety.  The plaintiffs moved for a prejudgment remedy under Connecticut law.  In the hearing, the bail agent driving the pursuing car invoked the Fifth Amendment.  The court noted that in a civil case an adverse inference can be drawn as a result of use of the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying.  The court reviewed Connecticut law on the privilege to recover a defaulting defendant but found that only as to the one bail agent (the driver of the pursuing car) the plaintiffs had met the burden of showing probable cause to believe a judgment would be recovered.  The court set the amount of the prejudgment remedy at $350,000 (as opposed to the $9.5 million requested by the plaintiffs) based on the “spotty” work history, drug use, and likely imprisonment of the decedent.

In Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department v. Blackjack Bonding, Inc., 2015 WL 993226 (Nev. March 5, 2015) the bail agent requested various telephone records of calls by inmates at the Clark County jail pursuant to the Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA).  The bail agent agreed to redaction of information identifying the particular inmate making the call.  The Court held that the information was a public record subject to the NPRA and that the bail agent was a requester entitled to recover attorneys fees and costs.

In People v. American Contractors Indemnity Co., Case No. G050713 (Cal.App. March 6, 2015) the defendant was charged with a misdemeanor, and pursuant to Penal Code §977 appeared by counsel.  The trial court nevertheless forfeited the bond and denied the surety’s timely motion to vacate the forfeiture.  The trial court entered summary judgment, and the surety appealed.  The People conceded that the forfeiture was erroneous and that the forfeiture and judgment should be set aside.  The issue was whether on remand the bond should be exonerated or reinstated.  The Court held that it should be exonerated and explained, “In the case before us, the trial court declared forfeiture in open court for reasons not permitted by the statute.  It matters not whether this was a fundamental or non-fundamental jurisdictional error.  The court’s failure to follow the procedures was clearly an act in excess of its jurisdiction, depriving the court of jurisdiction to later declare a forfeiture.  Accordingly, in addition to reversing the court’s order, we remand with directions to exonerate the bond.”  [Not published].