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People v. Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Co.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division

May 8, 2014

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
INDIANA LUMBERMENS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County Nos. LA042180, SJ003457, Lia Martin, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

John M. Rorabaugh for Defendant and Appellant.

Ruben Baeza, Jr., Assistant County Counsel and Joanne Nielsen, Principal Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

KLEIN, P. J.

Defendant and appellant Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company (Indiana), the surety on a bail bond, appeals an order denying its motion to set aside the summary judgment on a forfeited $625, 000 bail bond.[1]

The essential issue presented is whether the summary judgment on the bail forfeiture is void because it was entered while an appeal was pending from an order denying Indiana’s motion to vacate the forfeiture.

We conclude the pendency of the appeal from the order denying the motion to vacate the forfeiture did not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction to enter summary judgment on the forfeited bond. Therefore, the order refusing to set aside the summary judgment is affirmed.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

1. Earlier proceedings.

Two felony cases were pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court against criminal defendant Joseph Parseg Mkrtchyan (Mkrtchyan). In a case in the

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northwest district, at Van Nuys Courthouse West (the Van Nuys case), consisting of 11 counts, Mkrtchyan was released on Indiana’s $625, 000 bond, executed on August 28, 2008. In a case at the Airport Courthouse (the Airport case), Mkrtchyan was released on his own recognizance. On January 6, 2009, on the People’s motion and with no objection by the defense, the trial court ordered the single-count Airport case consolidated with the Van Nuys case, with the Airport count added as count 12 to the Van Nuys case. Bail was unchanged. It remained at $625, 000 in the consolidated case because Mkrtchyan had been released on his own recognizance in the Airport case.

On June 23, 2009, Mkrtchyan failed to appear for trial in the consolidated case. As a result, the $625, 000 bond was forfeited and an arrest warrant was issued.

On July 30, 2009, Indiana filed a motion to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond. Indiana contended the trial court lost jurisdiction over the bond by applying it “not only to secure the appearance on the charges for which it was posted [(i.e., the 11 counts in the Van Nuys case)], but also applying the bond to an additional unrelated criminal act [(i.e., the single-count Airport case)] after the bond had been posted.” Indiana argued the increased risk on the bond, without its consent, terminated its obligation on the bond.

In opposition, the People pointed out that Mkrtchyan was free on his own recognizance in the Airport case; therefore, when the Airport case was consolidated with the Van Nuys case, the bail was not increased. Thus, the consolidation of the two cases had no effect on Indiana. The People further disputed Indiana's contention the consolidation of the single-count Airport case with the eleven-count Van Nuys case altered the risks and nature of Indiana’s bond in the Van Nuys case, in that the one added count of robbery from the Airport case was almost identical to the charges in the Van Nuys case.

On September 17, 2009, the trial court denied Indiana’s motion to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate bail.

On September 25, 2009, Indiana filed notice of appeal from the order denying its motion to vacate the forfeiture.

On January 29, 2010, during the pendency of that appeal, the trial court entered summary judgment on the forfeited bond in the total ...


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