Cases - New Jersey

State v. Clayton, 825 A.2d 1155 (N.J. Super, A.D. 2003) and State v. Dillard, 824 A.2d 1100 (N.J. Super, A.D. 2003) both hold that in a series of cases the vast majority of the forfeited bond amount should be remitted because of the surety's successful efforts to recover the defendant and the lack of any expense or prejudice to the state.  In one of the cases decided in the Clayton opinion, the surety was entitled to complete exoneration because it apprehended the defendant and objected to forfeiture within the 45 day period (since extended to 75 days) provided by N.J. Rule 3:26-6(b).  The trial court reinstated the bond and again released the defendant who again failed to appear and was again recovered by the surety.  The appeal court held that reinstating the bond without the surety's consent discharged the surety from any obligation for further defaults and the surety had fully performed after the first default as required by the rule.  In the other 8 cases decided in the two opinions, some part of the bond was forfeited but most was remitted in light of the surety's monitoring and recovery efforts.

State v. Harmon, 825 A.2d 515 (N.J. Super.A.D. 2003) is another decision of the New Jersey intermediate appellate court granting some degree of relief from forfeiture on 14 out of 16 bonds under consideration.  The court decided that if the defendant remained at large, no relief was warranted.  On the rest of the cases, some relief was granted depending on the facts of each case.

State v. Simpson, 839 A.2d 896 (N.J. Super. A.D. 2003) is an opinion in 17 consolidated appeals raising constitutional challenges to the New Jersey procedure barring sureties and agents who fail to satisfy an uncontested judgment of forfeiture from writing more bonds until the forfeiture is paid.  The 17 cases all involve two sureties who have the same Program Administrator, Capital Bonding.  The Court found that the constitutional issues were frivolous and resoundingly upheld the right of the New Jersey Supreme Court to establish rules barring defaulting sureties.  The Court was also highly critical of the surety companies for which Capital Bonding is the managing agent for a policy of appealing virtually every forfeiture.   In cases in which the defendant was not recovered, the grounds of appeal have been the constitutional issues now rejected by the Court, supported by identical "verbatim" briefs.  The Court states, "Hundreds of such appeals have been filed in the last several years, but because the appellant saw fit to withdraw or settle them as they were calendared, these constitutional issues were not adjudicated, and the stream of 'verbatim' appeals therefore continues."  This is unusually strong language from a court describing what it clearly thinks is an abusive practice.

In re Preclusion of Brice, 841 A.2d 927 (N.J. Super. A.D. 2004) is another case indirectly involving Capital Bonding Corporation.  The court held that the contracts, court rules and statutes involved permitted the court to de-list (refuse to accept further bonds from) the bail agent, as well as the surety company, if forfeitures were not paid.  Although Capital Bonding was not a party, the court noted that the agent’s contract was with Capital Bonding not with either of the surety companies.