California v. Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc.Annotate this Case
Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc. (Surety) posted a bail bond on behalf of criminal defendant Abdul Karim Juma. Surety appealed following the trial court's denial of its motion to vacate the trial court's forfeiture of the bail bond and to exonerate the bail bond following Juma's failure to appear. On June 23, 2016, Juma was arraigned on charges of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault likely to produce great bodily injury. Bail was set at $100,000. Surety posted a $100,000 bail bond for Juma's release from custody. According to the minute orders in the appellate record, Juma appeared for hearings on July 1 and 15 and August 24, 2016. However, for a hearing held on August 5, 2016, the clerk who filled out the minute order neglected to check the box indicating whether Juma was present, and no reporter's transcript exists for that hearing. The only indication that Juma may have been present in court on August 5 was a minute order statement that "distribution" of the order to defense counsel and Juma took place on the date of the hearing. After having appeared on August 24, Juma failed to appear for a September 29, hearing, and the trial court entered an order forfeiting bail. Surety twice moved the trial court to set aside the forfeiture and exonerate the bail bond, or in the alternative to further extend the period to seek such relief based on the fact that Surety's investigator had located Juma in Kenya and the District Attorney was in the process of deciding whether to extradite Juma. The District Attorney filed an opposition, in which it argued that Surety had not fulfilled all of the requirements for exonerating bail by merely locating Juma in Kenya. At a hearing in February 2018, the trial court concluded Surety had not established Juma failed to appear on August 5, 2016, and thus had not established the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the bail bond by failing to order bail forfeited on that date. The Court ultimately ordered summary judgment on the bail bond forfeiture. Surety contended on appeal that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to forfeit the bond because: (1) it failed to enter an order forfeiting the bond at an earlier hearing at which Juma may not have been present; and (2) on several grounds, the bail agreement was rendered void and was exonerated when the trial court required that Juma waive his Fourth Amendment right against warrantless searches. The Court of Appeal determined Surety's arguments lacked merit, and accordingly, affirmed judgment.