Monday, March 17, 2014
Court of Appeal Countermands Bail Forfeiture Ordered After Defendant Skipped Contempt Hearing
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The trial court lacked jurisdiction to order that bail in the amount of $100,000 be forfeited based on the failure of a defendant in multi-felony case to show up at a contempt hearing, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled Friday.
The case is People v. American Contractors Indemnity Co., H038148. It was not certified for publication.
Justice Eugene Premo, writing for the panel, said that Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Philip H. Pennypacker lacked the power to order the forfeiture after defendant Ramon Brown snubbed his order to appear before him “tomorrow morning with your lawyer at nine o’clock.” The hearing was set to determine if he would be held in contempt for snapping photos in the courthouse.
Pennypacker said in his order that Brown had been observed “taking pictures of the security set up in the downstairs department area of this court which is extremely serious,” and “a violation of a court order not to take pictures inside of the court without written permission.”
“The only question is whether the court’s order to appear for a hearing relating to Brown’s possible violation of a court order was the legal equivalent of an order directing him to appear for matters related to the ongoing criminal case against him. We think it is not.”
He said the picture-taking, will a cell phone, was “entirely separate and unrelated to the acts forming the basis of the criminal charges against Brown,” declaring:
“The only possible connection between the two was that Brown was only in the courthouse and able to take these photos because he had been ordered to appear that morning in his criminal case.”
The bond was intended to “insure Brown’s appearance to answer the charges set forth in the accusatory pleading,” Premo said, and “[i]ts obligations did not extend beyond those charges.”
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