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The People v. Western Insurance Company

April 2, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
WESTERN INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. VCF223631) APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Tulare County. Brett R. Alldredge, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Levy, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

In this bail forfeiture action, appellant, Western Insurance Company (Western), challenges the trial court's order denying its motion to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate bail. According to Western, the appearance period for the criminal defendant who fled to India should have been equitably tolled during the extradition process.

As discussed below, equitable tolling is not applicable to the bail bond forfeiture statutory scheme. Therefore, the judgment will be affirmed.

BACKGROUND

Western, through its agent, Aladdin Bail Bonds (Aladdin), posted a $50,000 bond to secure the release of criminal defendant, Jasbir Riar. Riar failed to appear for a hearing on November 25, 2009. The trial court declared the bond forfeited and issued a bench warrant for Riar.

Notice of forfeiture of the bail bond was mailed to Western and Aladdin informing them that unless the order of forfeiture was set aside within 180 days, summary judgment would be entered pursuant to Penal Code*fn1 section 1306. Upon Western's motion, the 180-day bail bond forfeiture period was extended to November 24, 2010.

Riar was found in India by Western's bail agent on September 25, 2010. The bail agent temporarily detained Riar in the presence of local law enforcement and Riar was positively identified. On September 29, 2010, Western informed respondent, the People of the State of California, of Riar's location and requested a response, by way of a form letter, as to whether the People would seek to extradite Riar.

On October 29, 2010, Western filed a motion to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bail bond. Western based this motion on its not having received a response from the People regarding extradition. Under section 1305, subdivision (g), if the prosecuting agency elects not to seek the extradition after being informed of the location of the defendant, the court must vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond.

The People opposed this motion on the ground that they had responded to Western and were interested in pursuing extradition. Thereafter, the People informed Western that they were proceeding through the National Crime Information Center.

At the hearing on Western's motion held on December 15, 2010, the trial court expressed its concern regarding whether the prosecutor's mere checking of a box on the form letter regarding the intent to extradite the defendant, without demonstrating any additional effort, was sufficient to prevent exoneration of the bond. Thus, the trial court continued the matter to permit Western to provide additional authority.

Western served a deposition subpoena on the People seeking information regarding the extradition efforts. In response, the People informed Western that they were beginning the process of requesting an Interpol Red Notice.

Thereafter, the People moved to quash the subpoena on the ground that the information sought was confidential as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. In support of this motion, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case submitted a declaration explaining that all extraditions from India must be processed through diplomatic channels. The deputy district attorney further stated that the ...


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