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State v. Big Dawg Bail Bonds

Court of Appeals of Idaho

September 18, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
BIG DAWG BAIL BONDS, Real Party in Interest-Appellant, and SUZANA MARIE CONNOR, Defendant

Editorial Note:

This decision is not final until exception of the 21 day petition for rehearing period. Pursuant to rule 118 of the Idaho Appellate Rules

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Richard D. Greenwood, District Judge.

Order partially exonerating bail bond, affirmed.

Eagle Law Center, LLC, Eagle, for appellant. Aaron J. Tribble argued.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Carl J. Withroe, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Carl J. Withroe argued.

LANSING, Judge. Chief Judge GUTIERREZ and Judge GRATTON CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 307

LANSING, Judge

Big Dawg Bail Bonds posted a surety bond for Suzana Marie Connor. She failed to appear at a scheduled hearing, and the district court ordered forfeiture of her bond. Big Dawg filed a motion seeking exoneration of the bond on the ground that state entities frustrated its ability to arrest Connor, who is believed to have fled to India. The district court granted partial exoneration and Big Dawg appeals, arguing that it is entitled to full exoneration of the bond.

I.

BACKGROUND

Connor was charged with a felony count of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in violation of Idaho Code § § 18-8004, 18-8005(9). Big Dawg posted a $50,000 surety bond on Connor's behalf and she was released from custody. After her release, Connor appeared at her arraignment and at another hearing where she entered a not guilty plea. She failed to appear, however, at a hearing on January 15, 2013. At that time, the court ordered that the bond be forfeited and indicated its intent to issue a bench warrant for Connor's arrest. On January 23, the clerk of the district court mailed a notice of the forfeiture to Big Dawg, but the notice was not received by Big Dawg until January 28. The bench warrant for Connor's arrest was not issued by the district court until January 24, and it did not appear on the district court's register of actions until January 31.

Big Dawg filed a motion to set aside the forfeiture and exonerate the bond. It argued that the district court's delays and a sheriff's policy combined to prevent it from arresting Connor before she fled. Kevin Elliot, the owner of Big Dawg, testified as follows at a series of evidentiary hearings. He first became concerned that Connor might abscond on January 12, before she missed a hearing. On that day, Connor's mother-in-law told him that Connor was acting strangely and might abscond. Elliot was suspicious that the mother-in-law was giving a false report to influence certain child custody proceedings and was concerned that he would violate a

Page 308

Department of Insurance guideline if he arrested Connor without actual proof ...


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