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Tentative Ruling
Judge Pauline Maxwell
Department 6 SB-Anacapa
1100 Anacapa Street P.O. Box 21107 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107

CIVIL LAW & MOTION

County of Santa Barbara vs American Surety Company

Case No: 18CV00052
Hearing Date: Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:30

Nature of Proceedings: Motion to Vacate Summary Judgment and for Exoneration of Bail Bond

Tentative Ruling:

The court grants defendant American Surety Company’s Motion to Set Aside Summary Judgment on Bond Forfeiture and for Exoneration of Bond, vacates the summary judgment entered herein on January 5, 2018; and exonerates American Surety Company’s Bond # AS25265242 posted in People v. Kody Jacob Lott, 1491838.

 

Background: On November 14, 2016, in People v. Kody Jacob Lott, 1491838 (the “criminal case”), American Surety Company (“Surety”) posted Bail Bond #AS25265242 in the amount of $5,000. The docket and records of the criminal case reveal the following activity:

On April 27, 2017, the court entered a bail bond forfeiture when Lott did not appear. On May 22, 2017, pursuant to Penal Code § 1305(b)(1), the clerk mailed a Notice of Forfeiture of Surety Bond to the bail agent, Biker Bail Bonds (“Agent”) and Surety at the addresses listed on the bond.

On December 7, 2017, the court sent a bail bond demand letter to Agent and Surety. A summary judgment packet was sent to the civil department of the court on January 3, 2018.

On January 5, 2018, this court entered summary judgment pursuant to Penal Code § 1306(a) and, on that date, the clerk mailed notice of entry of that judgment and a bail bond notice to Agent and Surety.

Motion: Surety moves to set aside the summary judgment and for exoneration of the bond. Surety says neither it nor Agent received the notice of forfeiture, but that is not the ground for setting aside the judgment. On July 6, 2017, Lott was in custody in Los Angeles with a hold for the criminal case in Santa Barbara County. Plaintiff agrees that exoneration of the bond is in the interest of justice.

After mailing of the notice of forfeiture, “the surety has a 180-day period, plus five days for service by mail (i.e., 185 days), within which to obtain relief from the forfeiture on certain statutory grounds (§ 1305, subds. (b)-(e)…).” People v. United States Fire Ins. Co., 242 Cal.App.4th 991, 999 (2015). In 1499618, November 23, 2017, was the last day to obtain relief from forfeiture.

Penal Code § 1305(c)(3) provides: “If, outside the county where the case is located, the defendant is surrendered to custody by the bail or is arrested in the underlying case within the 180-day period, the court shall vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bail.” Penal Code § 1305(i) provides: “As used in this section, ‘arrest’ includes a hold placed on the defendant in the underlying case while he or she is in custody on other charges.”

The law disfavors forfeitures and statutes imposing them are strictly construed. People v. Far W. Ins. Co., 93 Cal.App.4th 791, 795 (2001). The court should have vacated the forfeiture and exonerated the bail. Therefore, summary judgment should not have been entered in this case.

The court grants defendant American Surety Company’s Motion to Set Aside Summary Judgment on Bond Forfeiture and for Exoneration of Bond, vacates the summary judgment entered herein on January 5, 2018; and exonerates American Surety Company’s Bond # AS25265242 posted in People v. Kody Jacob Lott, 1491838.

 
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