Posted 11/16/2015

In People v. Continental Heritage Insurance Co., 2015 WL 6942502 (Cal.App. November 10, 2015) the defendant provided a false name.  After extensions of the appearance period, the surety was unable to return the defendant.  The trial court denied the surety’s motion to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond and entered summary judgment.  The Court criticized the record that the surety provided on appeal but nevertheless addressed the merits of two arguments.  First, the surety contended that the defendant’s misrepresentation of his identity meant the bond was issued under a mutual mistake of fact.  The Court found that the surety did not make this argument in the trial court and reviewed only the argument that “the bond should have been exonerated because the County of Los Angeles gave Continental false information regarding the defendant’s true identity.”  The Court found no evidence that any County employee intentionally misled the surety or that the surety was prevented from undertaking its own due diligence.  The Court also noted that the surety discovered that the name was an alias and located the defendant in another state.  The Court, therefore, rejected the surety’s arguments based on its lack of knowledge of the defendant’s true identity.

The surety also argued that a police detective interfered with its attempts to locate and recover the defendant by telling one of the surety’s investigators to stop looking for the defendant.  The Court found that this directive did not deter the surety and its agent from continuing to try to locate the defendant and, in fact, did not make it impossible for the surety to perform its contract.  The Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the surety’s motion.  [Not published].

In Williamsburg National Insurance Co. v. State, Case Nos. 13-14-645 and 13-14-647 (Tex.App. – Corpus Christi November 12, 2015) the surety appealed summary judgments in two cases involving the same issues.  In one case the State conceded that it had not actually filed the summary judgment papers, and the Court reversed the judgment and remanded for further proceedings in the trial court.  In the other case, however, the Court affirmed the judgment.  The surety argued that the trial court confused the facts of the consolidated cases before it, but the Court thought the record did not support that argument.  The Court also found that the trial court had not abated any of the cases but merely addressed them together because they involved the same issues.  Finally, the Court rejected the surety’s argument that there was insufficient evidence the principal was served.  The court file showed that the citation was mailed to the principal at the address on the bond as provided in Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 22.05.  The fact that it was returned as undeliverable was irrelevant, and the trial court’s judicial notice of the case file was not inadmissible hearsay.

In People v. Lexington National Insurance Co., 2015 WL 7013878 (Cal.App. November 12, 2015) the defendant was released on the surety’s $20,000 bond.  The defendant, but not any representative of the surety, appeared for a preliminary hearing on October 13, 2011.  After hearing evidence and at the prosecutor’s request, the court increased the amount of the defendant’s bond to $100,000.  However, the court did not remand the defendant to custody or discharge the $20,000 bond.  Instead, it set the case for October 18 for the defendant “to return to court for posting” the new $100,000 bond.  The defendant failed to appear on October 18, and the court forfeited the $20,000 bond.  The court denied the surety’s motion to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond, and the surety appealed.  The Court of Appeal thought that by finding that an increase in bail was warranted, the trial court necessarily found that the $20,000 bond was insufficient to guarantee the defendant’s appearance and protect the public.  The Court emphasized that the trial court acted without the surety’s knowledge or consent and held, “When the trial court increased Cisneros’s bail to $100,000, it should have remanded Cisneros into custody, exonerated the $20,000 bail bond, and required Cisneros to post a new $100,000 bail bond before re-admitting him to bail.  Because the trial court rendered the terms of the $20,000 bond void, it should have granted the surety’s motion to exonerate the bond and vacate the bail forfeiture.”  [Not published].