Posted 2/15/2016

 In State v. Wade, ___ N.W.2d ___, 2016 WL 456911 (Minn. Ct. App. February 8, 2016), the Court of Appeals found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the surety’s petition to discharge a forfeited bail bond.  The surety provided the defendant a $60,000 bail bond in connection with a charge of violating a domestic abuse no contact order.  The defendant failed to appear at a sentencing hearing and the trial court forfeited the bail bond.  The defendant subsequently was arrested for a separate crime.  When he was arrested, the defendant admitted that he knew there was an active bench warrant for his failure to appear.  The defendant was sentenced on the domestic abuse no contact order charge.  The surety petitioned the trial court to discharge the bond.  In the petition to discharge the bond, the surety attached an affidavit from the recovery agent stating that the defendant’s apprehension was a result of intelligence provided by the recovery agent.  This claim was proved false.  The trial court ordered that the bond remain forfeited in its entirety.  The Court of Appeals reviewed the factors to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion:  (1) Whether the purpose of bail was achieved; (2) The good faith of the bond company as measured by the willfulness of the defendant; (3) The good faith efforts of the bond company to produce the defendant; and (4) Any prejudice to the state in the administration of justice.  The Court of Appeals found that the purpose of bail was not achieved because the surety in no way contributed to the defendant’s apprehension.  The defendant willfully failed to appear, as he was aware of the outstanding bench warrant.  The surety lacked good faith in apprehending the defendant in falsely claiming credit for his apprehension.  In addition, the state was prejudiced to a slight degree, as sentencing was delayed. 

In State v. Demarrias, ___ N.W.2d ___, 2016 WL 456919 (Minn. Ct. App. February 8, 2016), the Court of Appeals found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the surety’s petition to discharge a forfeited bail bond.  The surety provided the defendant a bail bond in connection with criminal proceedings in Ramsey County.  The defendant failed to appear at a sentencing hearing and the trial court forfeited the bail bond.  The defendant subsequently was arrested by and in the custody of the Pine County sheriff.  Ramsey County placed a “body-only hold” on the defendant.  However, it is not clear whether Pine County received notice of the hold.  The surety posted a bail bond in the Pine County matter, and release was conditioned on the defendant attending inpatient treatment.  The surety did not inform Ramsey County of the defendant’s release from Pine County custody.  The defendant failed to attend treatment.  The surety petitioned the trial court to discharge the bond posted in the Pine County matter.  The trial court ordered that the bond remain forfeited.  Examining the factors to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion, the Court of Appeals found that because the surety posted the bond in the Pine County matter, did not inform Ramsey County and the defendant is still not in custody, (1) the purpose of the bond to Ramsey County was not accomplished, (2) the defendant’s failure to appear in Ramsey County was willful and (3) the surety made no good faith effort to produce the defendant to Ramsey County. 

In Trujillo v. State, Case No. CR-15-638 (Ark. February 11, 2015), the defendant, after being re-apprehended for violating a “no contact” order, was ordered to post $300,000 cash only bail.  The defendant asserted that cash only bail violated the Arkansas Constitution, which states that persons shall be “bailable by sufficient sureties.”  The Arkansas Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err in setting cash only bail.  The Court reviewed the purpose of bail, which is to ensure the presence of the defendant.  The Court also reviewed the definition of surety in Black’s Law Dictionary and noted that it includes a “guarantee.”  Thus, “sufficient sureties” means an adequate guarantee to ensure the accused’s presence.  The Court concluded that “bail with sufficient sureties” includes cash bail, and therefore, a cash only bail requirement does not violate the Arkansas Constitution.  The dissent, after quoting Johnny Cash’s song, “Starkville City Jail”, concluded that although cash is a sufficient surety for bail, cash only bail violates the Constitution because it deprives the defendant his right to furnish other types of sufficient surety for his release.  Another dissent held that cash only bail violates the Constitution because it disproportionately affects the poor who do not have the funds to pay the bail.

In People v. Bankers Insurance Co., 2016 WL 542569 (Cal.Ct. App. February 11, 2016), the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision to forfeit the bail bond.  The defendant had furnished a $200,000 bail bond in connection with various drug charges.  The defendant failed to appear at a May 30, 2012, hearing, and a notice of forfeiture was issued on May 31, 2012.  The notice indicated a December 3, 2012, deadline for filing for an extension of the 180 day period.  On December 4, 2012, the surety file a motion to extend the 180 day period, apparently 1 day after the deadline for such a filing.  The surety claimed that the clerk mislead it in believing that it had an additional five days after the issuance of the notice to account for mailing.  The trial court disagreed and ordered the forfeiture.  The Court of Appeal noted the defendant had been ordered by the trial court to appear that the May 30, 2012, hearing.  Further the Court of Appeal concluded that the surety received adequate notice of the forfeiture of defendant's bond despite any apparent error in the clerk's inclusion of the five-day mailing period in the deadline listed in the notice of forfeiture. [Not Published]

In Teer v. State, 2016 WL 552614 (Tex. Ct.App. February 11, 2016), a defendant appealed his conviction and the court set a $10,000 bond.  The trial court specified that it must be a commercial surety bond.  On appeal, the defendant asserted that the amount of bail was excessive because he was indigent and could not afford the payment of premium to the commercial surety.  In assessing the various factors to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion, the Court of Appeal concluded that the defendant was indigent.  However, the defendant did not establish that he had no friends or family members who would help him obtain an appeal bond.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial’s court’s order setting bail.

Pierce v. City of Velda City, 2015 WL 10013006 (E.D.Mo. June 3, 2015) is an order in response to a lawsuit brought by Equal Justice Under Law regarding pre-trial detention practices of the City.  The order required compliance of a settlement agreement between the City and the plaintiff.  The order stated that the use of a secured bail schedule to set the conditions for release of a person in custody after arrest implicates the protections of the Equal Protection Clause when such a schedule is applied to the indigent. The City cannot deny prompt release from custody to a person because the person is financially incapable of posting a bond.  The order required the City to cease using secured bail and release persons currently held on recognizance or on an unsecured bond as soon as practicable after booking.