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County of Los Angeles v. Williamsburg National Insurance Co.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fourth Division

April 3, 2015

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
WILLIAMSBURG NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. SJ3866 Lia Martin, Judge.

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COUNSEL

E. Alan Nunez and Robert Tomlin White, for Defendant and Appellant.

Ruben Baez, Jr., Assistant County Counsel, and Brian T. Chu, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

COLLINS, J.

Williamsburg National Insurance Company (Williamsburg) appeals from an order denying its motion to extend the 185-day forfeiture period for a bail bond and from summary judgment against Williamsburg on the forfeited bond. Williamsburg contends that the court deprived it of due

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process and the statutory right to a hearing by denying the motion without a hearing on the day it was filed. We agree that Williamsburg had a statutory right to an oral hearing, and the court erred in depriving Williamsburg of that right. We do not reach Williamsburg’s due process argument. We therefore reverse and remand to the trial court with instructions to vacate summary judgment and hold an oral hearing on Williamsburg’s motion.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 18, 2012, Williamsburg executed a $200, 000 bail bond, which was posted for the release of a criminal defendant. Following his release, the defendant was scheduled to appear in court on July 20, 2012 for a trial readiness hearing. The defendant failed to appear, and the court ordered the bond forfeited. On July 23, 2012, the court clerk mailed a bail forfeiture notice to Williamsburg. Under the notice and pursuant to Penal Code, section 1305, [1] Williamsburg had 180 days, plus five days for service by mail-until January 24, 2013-to surrender the defendant to custody or move to set aside the forfeiture. This 185-day period is commonly referred to as the exoneration period.

Williamsburg filed a motion to extend the exoneration period on January 22, 2013. On February 1, 2013, the court heard the motion and ordered the exoneration period extended 169 days to Saturday, July 20, 2013.[2]

On July 22, 2013-the first court day following July 20, 2013-Williamsburg filed its second motion to extend the exoneration period.[3] It noticed the motion to be heard on August 27, 2013. Williamsburg filed the supplemental declaration of Investigator Ryan Smalls in support of its motion, in which Smalls described his investigation into the defendant’s whereabouts. He stated that on July 7, 2013 he received a request to locate and apprehend the defendant. Smalls explained that he was being assisted by several fugitive recovery agencies, that surveillance had been established at multiple residences and phone lines, and that a witness had seen the defendant in Sylmar ...


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