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People v. Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc.

Supreme Court of California

December 8, 2016

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
FINANCIAL CASUALTY & SURETY, INC., Defendant and Appellant

         Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. SJ003872, Harvey Giss, Judge. Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five, No. B251230.

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          Law Office of John Rorabaugh, John M. Rorabaugh, Robert Tomlin White and E. Alan Nunez for Defendant and Appellant.

         Peter A. Botz, Toni Martinson and Justin C. Pinney for Two Jinn, Inc., as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

         Mary C. Wickham, County Counsel, Brian T. Chu, Principal Deputy County Counsel, and Lindsay Yoshiyama, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

         Jennifer B. Henning and Janis L. Herbstman for California State Association of Counties as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Respondent.

         Opinion by Werdegar, J., with Cantil-Sakauye, C. J., Chin, Corrigan, Liu, Cuéllar, and Kruger, JJ., concurring.


          WERDEGAR, J.

          [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 81] [384 P.3d 1228] Penal Code section 1305.4 [1] allows the period in which a bail bond may be exonerated by the accused's appearance, normally running 185 days from mailing of a notice the bond has been forfeited (§ 1305, subds. (b), (c)(1)), to be extended on a showing of good cause by up to 180 additional days from the court's order. The trial court in this case granted an extension for fewer than 180 days but, at the end of the extension period, denied the bond surety's second extension motion. The Court of Appeal affirmed that ruling on two grounds: (1) because the surety had not established a reasonable likelihood the requested extension would lead to the accused's return to custody, the trial court could reasonably find the surety had failed to show good cause for a further extension and (2) under the case law interpreting section 1305.4, serious doubt exists as to whether the trial court even had the authority to grant a further extension, as at the time of the motion more than 365 days had passed since the bond was forfeited.

         We conclude the Court of Appeal was correct on the first point but incorrect on the second. Because at the time the surety's second extension motion was heard fewer than 180 days had passed since the first extension was ordered, the trial court had discretion under section 1305.4 to grant a further extension. But the court did not abuse that discretion in considering, as grounds for denying an extension of the period for exonerating a bail bond, that the surety had not shown the requested extension was likely to produce the accused's appearance in court. As the Court of Appeal correctly found no abuse of discretion, we will affirm its judgment.

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         Factual and Procedural Background

         On March 5, 2012, Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc. (Financial Casualty), posted a bail bond in the amount of $ 1.24 million on behalf of Oscar Grijalva, who was charged with attempted murder and other felonies. Grijalva failed to appear at a pretrial proceeding on August 23, 2012, resulting in forfeiture of his bail and issuance of a bench warrant. A notice of forfeiture was mailed to Financial Casualty and its bail agent on August 24, 2012. Under section 1305, the forfeiture would be vacated and the bond exonerated if Grijalva appeared in court by the 185th day after the notice was mailed, February 25, 2013. (See § 1305, subds. (b), (c)(1).)

         On February 20, 2013, five days before the appearance period ended, Financial Casualty filed a motion to extend the period under section 1305.4, supported by a declaration from Cesar McGuire, the lead investigator assigned by Financial Casualty to apprehend Grijalva. McGuire detailed the efforts he and his team of recovery agents had undertaken to find Grijalva, beginning on August 22, 2012, when Grijalva detached his ankle bracelet at an airport, and continuing through February 4, 2013, when a website and Facebook advertisements offering a $ 100,000 award were published in the United States. In that period, McGuire pursued numerous leads in Southern California and Mexico provided by Grijalva's family members and acquaintances and by confidential informants. Although his investigation to that [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 82] point had failed to locate the fugitive, McGuire stated he had " a tremendous amount of new leads" from people who had seen Grijalva in Guadalajara, Mexico, and in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, and that " with all the legwork that I have done on the case, I am confident that Oscar Grijalva will be apprehended and brought to justice."

         The motion was heard and decided on March 20, 2013. On that date, the trial court ordered the appearance period extended to August 1, 2013.

          [384 P.3d 1229] On August 1, 2013, Financial Casualty filed a second motion to extend the appearance period, again supported by a declaration from McGuire. Since the period covered by his previous declaration, McGuire had offered Grijalva's sister a $ 100,000 reward for turning him in; received a call from a Mexican man who claimed to be Grijalva's cousin; received information about other Grijalva family members travelling to Mexico; tried unsuccessfully to contact Grijalva's mother; conducted surveillance on four residences in California without finding Grijalva at any of them; followed family members on a drive to Rosarito, in Baja California, but lost them there without seeing Grijalva; established or maintained law enforcement contacts in Baja California and thereby confirmed that a gang with which Grijalva was associated had a presence in Tijuana; and spoken with a reliable confidential informant who

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said Grijalva was staying in Tijuana and with a " U.S. law enforcement officer" who said Mexican law enforcement had told him they had an informant who knew Grijalva. In this declaration, unlike his first, McGuire made no predictions or ...

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