People v. Granite State Insurance Co – Case Brief Summary (California)

In People v. Granite State Insurance Co. (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 758, the defendant failed to appear and the court ordered forfeiture of the bond.

The defendant was not returned to custody. The surety moved to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond, and argued the court lost jurisdiction over the bond when it allowed the defendant to remain out on bail after taking his guilty plea.

The surety's motion to vacate was filed before expiration of the appearance period, and the hearing was scheduled within the 30 days after expiration of the appearance period.

The motion was denied, and the trial court entered summary judgment on the bond within 90 days following the denial. The surety moved to set aside the summary judgment and claimed the trial court lost jurisdiction to enter it after the expiration of the appearance period. (Granite State, supra, at pp. 761-762.)

On appeal, Granite State held the trial court had jurisdiction to enter the summary judgment. "Given that subdivision (i) of section 1305 specifically authorizes the court to hear a motion to vacate forfeiture after the expiration of the exoneration period, if such a motion has been timely filed, summary judgment cannot be entered before the motion has been decided even if that decision occurs after the expiration of that period. To hold otherwise would require a court to enter summary judgment before reaching a decision on a motion to vacate the forfeiture, the hearing on which may have been properly extended for good cause as authorized by section 1305, subdivision (i), beyond 90 days from the expiration of the exoneration period, rendering those proceedings futile." (Granite State, supra, 114 Cal.App.4th at p. 764.) The court concluded that the 90-day period to enter summary judgment does not begin until the pending motion to vacate forfeiture is denied. (Id. at p. 768.)

In that case, the issue on appeal was whether the provision allowing a motion to vacate forfeiture to be heard after the expiration of the exoneration period (§ 1305, former subd. (i) now subd. (j)) had "the effect of also extending the period (provided by § 1306) within which the court may enter summary judgment."

The Court concluded that it did have that effect. (Granite State, supra, 114 Cal.App.4th at pp. 760-761.) In that case, a prior extension of the exoneration period had been granted to November 13, 2001.

On November 8, 2001, the surety filed a timely motion to vacate forfeiture, and scheduled the hearing for December 12, 2001.

The trial court continued the motion several times based on good cause, and the motion was ultimately heard and denied on April 24, 2002. Within 90 days after denial of the motion, the trial court entered summary judgment against the surety pursuant to section 1306, subdivision (a). The surety appealed on the ground that summary judgment had to be entered within 90 days after expiration of the extended exoneration period (i.e., 90 days after Nov. 13, 2001), not 90 days after the denial of the motion and, therefore, the summary judgment was entered too late. (Granite State, supra, at pp. 761-762.)

Thus, the appeal required us "to determine the date upon which summary judgment 'may first be entered' when ... the surety has filed a motion to vacate the forfeiture before the expiration of the exoneration period, but the motion is decided after the expiration of that period." (Id. at p. 764.)

Rejecting the surety's argument that summary judgment could be entered while the motion was pending, we held that the filing of the timely motion to vacate forfeiture during the exoneration period postponed the first day in which summary judgment may be entered to the day after the motion is decided. (Ibid.) Specifically, the Court concluded that "where a surety timely files a motion to vacate forfeiture prior to the expiration of the exoneration period, and the motion is decided after expiration of that period as provided under section 1305, former subdivision (i) now subdivision (j), the court's power to enter summary judgment begins on the day following denial of the motion and expires 90 days later." (Granite State, supra, at p. 770.)