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County of Los Angeles v. Allegheny Casualty Co.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

July 18, 2017

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
ALLEGHENY CASUALTY COMPANY, Real Party in Interest and Appellant.

         APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court Nos. SJ4151, SJ4152, SJ4153 of Los Angeles County. Kerry Bensinger, Judge. Affirmed.

          Law Offices of John Rorabaugh, John M. Rorabaugh and Crystal L. Rorabaugh for Real Party and Interest and Appellant.

          Office of the County Counsel, Mary C. Wickman, County Counsel, Ruben Baeza, Jr., Assistant County Counsel and Joanne Nielsen, Deputy County Counsel for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          BIGELOW, P.J.

         Under Penal Code section 1305.4, [1] a surety may move to extend a defendant's appearance period by 180 days upon a showing of good cause. The trial court in this case granted an extension of 174 days, but denied a second extension motion. On appeal, Allegheny Casualty Company argues it is entitled to an extension for the remaining six days. Because more than 180 days had passed by the time of the hearing on Allegheny's second motion for extension, however, we conclude the trial court lacked the authority to order a further extension and properly denied the motion. (People v. Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc. (2016) 2 Cal.5th 35 (Financial Casualty).) We affirm the judgment.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Allegheny, through its agent, Nelly's Bail Bonds, [2] posted three bonds on September 12, 2014, for the release of co-defendants Jesse Ortega, Antonio Delgado, and Sergy Vagramian, who were charged with extortion in violation of section 520. None of the co-defendants appeared for arraignment on October 10, 2014, and bail was ordered forfeited. Notices of forfeiture were mailed to Allegheny on October 14, 2014, specifying the appearance period for each co-defendant would end on April 17, 2015. On April 14, 2015, Allegheny moved to extend the appearance periods under section 1305 to October 10, 2015. On April 23, 2015, the motions were granted and the appearance periods were extended 174 days to October 14, 2015, which was 365 days after the notices of forfeiture were mailed.

         On October 13, 2015, Allegheny again moved to extend the appearance periods “on the grounds of Penal Code § 1305, § 1305.4, and that the court lost jurisdiction over the bond.” Allegheny calendared the motions for a November 6, 2015 hearing.

         At the hearing on November 6, Allegheny's counsel clarified it was seeking an additional 10 days after the “initial 170 day extension from the date of the order granted in those cases.”[3] The People opposed, contending that existing case law[4] supported a holding that the surety had no more than 365 days after the bonds were forfeited to exonerate the bonds. October 14, 2015 was 365 days after the notices of forfeiture were mailed. After extensive argument, the trial court denied the motions on the ground that the appearance period had expired, reasoning, “the pendency of this motion would not have tolled the clock.” Allegheny timely appealed in each case on November 20, 2015, and the appeals were consolidated. On November 23, 2015, notices of summary judgment were mailed to Allegheny.

         DISCUSSION

         Allegheny contends it was “deprived of 6 days of time that could have been used to locate these defendants.”[5] Thus, it seeks an additional six-day extension of time on the bonds, which would result in an extension on Vagramian's bond and exoneration of the bonds for Ortega and Delgado.[6] We conclude no additional time was available to Allegheny.

         I. Standard of Review and Statutory Scheme

         Because the pertinent facts are uncontested, the standard of review we apply to the trial court's interpretation of the statutory scheme is de novo. (People v. Fairmont Specialty Group (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 146, 151.)

         A surety acts as the guarantor of a defendant's appearance in court by posting a bail bond, which is subject to forfeiture if the defendant fails to appear. (People v. American Contractors Indemnity Co. (2004) 33 Cal.4th 653, 657.) Once the clerk of the court mails a notice of forfeiture for the defendant's failure to appear in court, the surety has 185 days (180 days plus five days for mailing) to ensure the defendant's attendance. (ยง 1305, subd. (c).) If the defendant appears within that ...


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