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State v. Weatherholtz Bail Bonding

Supreme Court of West Virginia

May 19, 2017

State of West Virginia, Respondent
Weatherholtz Bail Bonding, Petitioner

         Berkeley County 14-F-29


         Petitioner and defendant below Weatherholtz Bail Bonding, by counsel Paul G. Taylor, appeals the March 25, 2016, "Order Denying Weatherholtz Motions to Amend Final Order and to Re-Open Evidence" that was entered in the Circuit Court of Berkeley County following entry of the court's prior "Order Denying Weatherholtz Bail Bonding's Motion to Return and Remit Forfeited Bond." The State of West Virginia, by counsel Benjamin M. Hiller, filed a response in support of the circuit court's order.

         This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         Roger C. Doleman (hereinafter "defendant") was indicted in February of 2014 on a variety of charges including first degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, assault during the commission of a felony, petit larceny, obstruction, and fleeing from law enforcement by means other than a use of a vehicle. Petitioner, a professional bonding company, posted defendant's bond, which was set at $50, 000. Following a continuance, trial was set for June 24, 2015.

         In the interim, in May of 2014, another criminal complaint was filed against defendant for driving while revoked for driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of an accident with injury. A warrant for defendant's arrest was issued on June 6, 2014. The State thereafter moved to revoke defendant's bail. The circuit court granted the State's motion to revoke bail on the ground that defendant violated the terms and conditions of his criminal bail agreement and issued a capias for his arrest. A copy of the circuit court's order was forwarded to petitioner.

         Defendant failed to appear for trial on June 24, 2014. The court entered a second order revoking defendant's bond and issued another capias.

         On July 2, 2014, the State filed a motion for forfeiture of bond and to show cause why a default should not be entered against petitioner. The circuit court entered an order forfeiting bond and a show cause hearing was held on July 14, 2014, where it was determined that petitioner failed to show cause why default on the forfeited bond should not be ordered. However, the court stayed its ruling, granted petitioner thirty days to apprehend defendant, and further ordered that, if defendant was not located within thirty days, counsel for petitioner "has leave to seek an additional extension of time by filing a motion with the Court and providing a detailed explanation of efforts made by [petitioner] to locate and detain [d]efendant . . . ."

         On September 29, 2014, the circuit court entered an order of default on the forfeited bond, ruling that "[m]ore than sixty days have since passed and the Defendant has not been returned to the jurisdiction of this Court, nor has [petitioner] moved to extend the time." Furthermore, the State represents, and petitioner does not dispute, that petitioner failed to provide the court with detailed information regarding its efforts to apprehend defendant up to that point. The court ordered that petitioner immediately remit the forfeited bond amount of $50, 000 to the clerk of the court.

         On October 2, 2014, petitioner filed a motion to alter, amend, and vacate the court's September 29, 2014, order in which it stated that it "has been diligently attempting to locate [defendant] without success[;]" that it "was and is in a position to detail its efforts for the Court[;]" that it "has filed suit on its surety agreement with defendant and his family/friends in an effort to apply pressure which, hopefully, will force [defendant] to surface[;]" and that it "inadvertently failed to timely seek leave of court for a stay on forfeiting [defendant's] bond and an extension of time to locate [defendant]." The State opposed petitioner's' motion.

         By order entered October 10, 2014, the circuit court denied the motion to alter, amend, and vacate its prior order, finding that "[m]ore than one hundred days have passed since the Defendant absconded from his bail on serious felony charges and crimes of personal violence, " and that there exists "no good cause to vacate its prior order."

         In December of 2014, defendant was arrested in the State of Maryland by Maryland authorities on Maryland charges. In April of 2015, after defendant was convicted and sentenced for the Maryland crimes, he was transferred to West Virginia through the interstate agreement on detainers process.

         On September 8, 2015, the State filed a motion for contempt against petitioner on the ground that petitioner had failed to remit the forfeited bond to the clerk, as previously ordered. A show cause hearing was scheduled for October 5, 2016. On September 28, 2015, petitioner filed an objection to the State's motion for contempt, claiming that it never received a copy of the October 10, 2014, order denying its motion to alter, amend, and vacate the default order and also recounting, in an attached exhibit, its "extensive efforts to apprehend [defendant]."[1]

         By order entered October 19, 2015, following the October 5, 2015, hearing, the parties entered into an agreed order in which petitioner was to remit the previously forfeited bond of $50, 000 no later than October 19, 2015. Also on that date, the circuit court entered a separate order granting petitioner's request for a thirty-day leave to file a motion for return of the forfeited bond, to which the State did not object.

         On October 30, 2015, petitioner filed a motion to return and remit forfeited bond. In its subsequently filed memorandum in support of the motion, petitioner again recounted its extensive ...

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