Court of Appeal:
Bail Bond Company Can’t Appeal Error in Ordering Summary Judgment Against It
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Div. One of the Court of Appeal for this district has held that where a defendant did not show up for trial and grace period for producing him had expired, the judge might have erred in ordering summary judgment against a bail bond company by failing to take into account the Judicial Council’s April 2020 emergency rule tolling all statutes of limitations in civil cases, but if she did, there was still no right of appeal.
Allegheny Casualty Company purported to appeal from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria B. Wilson’s order granting summary judgment as to forfeiture of the $30,000 bond that was put up to assure the appearance of a criminal defendant, Jaime Banegas, who was due in court on May 22, 2019. By statute, Allegheny had 185 days to get him into court.
Pursuant to a timely motion, that is statutorily authorized, Wilson extended the period by 180 days. The new deadline was June 10, 2020.
On June 30, with Banegas still missing, Wilson ordered entry of summary judgment against Allegheny. That, the company argued in its appeal, contravened the Judicial Council’s emergency “Rule 9” freezing statutes of limitation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild declared in an opinion that was filed Wednesday and not certified for publication:
“We dismiss the appeal because summary judgment in bail forfeiture cases is a consent judgment, and is not appealable when, as here, it was entered pursuant to the terms of the surety’s consent.”
Rejecting Allegheny’s contention that appealability exists because, in light if Rule 9, the summary judgment weas outside the scope of its consent, the jurist wrote:
“Emergency rule 9 did not exist at the time Allegheny agreed to act as Banegas’s surety, so Allegheny’s consent could not have been conditioned on the application of the rule. The trial court entered summary judgment in accordance with the law as it existed when Allegheny agreed to serve as surety, and the judgment was consistent with Allegheny’s consent.”
“…Allegheny contends that emergency rule 9 tolled the appearance period from April 6, 2020 until October 1, 2020, and that the trial court erred by entering judgment on June 30. If Allegheny is correct regarding the application of emergency rule 9, an issue we do not decide, then the appearance period, which would have expired on June 10, 2020, was extended by 179 days, to December 6, 2020. If Allegheny had objected to the entry of summary judgment on this basis before the trial court, the court could have corrected the alleged error and vacated the summary judgment, and then issued a new summary judgment after Banegas failed to appear by the extended deadline. Instead, Allegheny filed this appeal, and did not file its opening brief until April 26, 2021, by which time the 90-day window for entering summary judgment had closed. The law does not require us to reward Allegheny for using these tactics.”
The case is People v. Allegheny Casualty Co., B306969.
Santa Ana attorneys John Mark Rorabaugh and Crystal L. Rorabaugh represented Allegheny and Los Angeles Deputy County Counsel Stephen Watson acted for the People.
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