New Hampshire v. McGurkAnnotate this Case
Free Bail Bonds appealed a district court's order that forfeited bonds guaranteeing the court appearance of Defendant Sean McGurk. Approximately one month before Defendant's scheduled appearance, he was arrested in Vermont and held in custody by the Vermont Department of Corrections pending trial there for offenses allegedly committed after the New Hampshire bonds were issued. The surety's representative then moved to revoke Defendant's bail. The trial court did not rule on this motion until Defendant's ongoing incarceration prevented him from appearing as scheduled. At that point, it forfeited bail over Defendant's objection. The surety moved to vacate the forfeiture order and, when its motion was denied, filed two motions to reconsider, both of which were also denied. The principal issue in this case concerned the forefeiture order and the denial of the surety's request for an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court rejected the surety's argument that the trial court treated the bonds as performance rather than appearance bonds. Although the court noted that Defendant's failure to appear resulted from his decision to travel to Vermont and commit crimes, the court's order made clear that it forfeited the bonds because Defendant failed to appear, not because of his criminal activity. The bonds guaranteed Defendant’s appearance, so the Court concluded forfeiture was entirely appropriate.