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State v. Two Jinn

March 15, 2010

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
TWO JINN, INC., REAL PARTY IN INTEREST-APPELLANT, AND RODERICK JAY BROWN, DEFENDANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Darla W. Williamson, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Melanson, Judge

2010 Opinion No. 17

Order denying motion to set aside forfeiture and exonerate bond, affirmed; order denying motion for reconsideration, affirmed.

Two Jinn, Inc., a bail bond company and the real party in interest, appeals from the district court's order denying Two Jinn's motion to set aside forfeiture and exonerate bond and the district court's order denying Two Jinn's motion for reconsideration. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Roderick Jay Brown was charged with two counts of burglary, one count of driving without privileges, and being a persistent violator. After Brown was arraigned and his trial schedule had been set, Two Jinn posted bond in the amount of $5,000. Brown failed to appear at a pre-trial conference on June 12, 2008. The district court issued a bench warrant, forfeited Brown's $5,000 bond, and set a new bond at $25,000. On October 18, 2008, Brown was arrested in Texas on the bench warrant. On October 23, 2008, Brown appeared in court, after being returned to Idaho by law enforcement.

Thereafter, Two Jinn filed a motion to set aside forfeiture and exonerate bond pursuant to I.C.R. 46 and I.C. § 19-2927, asserting that Two Jinn was entitled to such relief because Brown appeared in court within 180 days of the district court's forfeiture of the bond. The district court denied Two Jinn's motion. Two Jinn filed a motion to reconsider the district court's order, which the district court denied. Two Jinn appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Conflict Between Former I.C. § 19-2527 and Former I.C.R. 46(g)

The decision whether to exonerate bond is committed to the district court's discretion. State v. Quick Release Bail Bonds, 144 Idaho 651, 655, 167 P.3d 788, 792 (Ct. App. 2007). Two Jinn argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying Two Jinn's motion to set aside forfeiture and exonerate bond. In reviewing a trial court's exercise of discretion we consider whether the trial court: (1) correctly perceived the issue as one of discretion; (2) acted within the outer boundaries of such discretion and consistently with applicable legal standards; and (3) reached its decision by an exercise of reason. Id.

Two Jinn argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying Two Jinn's motion to set aside forfeiture and exonerate the bond under both former I.C. § 19-2927 and former I.C.R. 46(g).*fn1 While I.C. § 19-2927 expressly authorized the exoneration of a bond after forfeiture if the defendant provided a satisfactory excuse for a failure to appear, I.C.R. 46(g) required exoneration of the bond anytime a defendant appeared within 180 days. In its order denying Two Jinn's motion, the district court held that, when read together, the statute and the rule required Brown to provide a satisfactory excuse for his failure to appear prior to the court granting exoneration of the bond. Because Brown did not provide such an excuse, the district court denied Two Jinn's motion. However, the district court held in the alternative that, if the statute and the rule could not be read in harmony, the statute controlled because the exoneration of bond is a matter of substantive law. Therefore, the district court denied Two Jinn's motion because Brown was required to provide an excuse under the controlling statute and failed to do so. Two Jinn contends that the district court erred by concluding that I.C.R. 46(g) did not require exoneration of the bond in this case and that the exoneration of bond is a matter of substantive law and was controlled by I.C. §19-2927.

This Court exercises free review over the application and construction of statutes. State v. Reyes, 139 Idaho 502, 505, 80 P.3d 1103, 1106 (Ct. App. 2003). Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, this Court must give effect to the statute as written, without engaging in statutory construction. State v. Rhode, 133 Idaho 459, 462, 988 P.2d 685, 688 (1999); State v. Burnight, 132 Idaho 654, 659, 978 P.2d 214, 219 (1999); State v. Escobar, 134 Idaho 387, 389, 3 P.3d 65, 67 (Ct. App. 2000). The language of the statute is to be given its plain, obvious, and rational meaning. Burnight, 132 Idaho at 659, 978 P.2d at 219. If the language is clear and unambiguous, there is no occasion for the court to resort to legislative history or rules of statutory interpretation. Escobar, 134 Idaho at 389, 3 P.3d at 67.

Under the former statute and rule, whenever a defendant failed to appear in court when required to do so by his or her bail conditions, the court was required to forfeit the bond if there was no sufficient excuse for the failure to appear. I.C. § 19-2927; I.C.R. 46(e)(1)*fn2. Defendants or their surety could then file a motion to exonerate a bond which, if ...


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