Despite the Existence of Bail Remission Procedures Does the Court Have the Authority to Act
In People v. Wirtschafter (305 NY 515), a surety moved to vacate a judgment of bail forfeiture.
The lower court denied the motion.
The Appellate Division affirmed the denial.
In affirming the denial, the Appellate Division applied the Statute of Limitations applicable to bail remission applications.
The Court of Appeals reversed the denial of the vacatur of the bail forfeiture and granted the motion, saying (at 519):
"It was error for the Appellate Division to treat this motion to vacate as an application for remission under section 598 of the code and subject to the time limitation therein contained.
An application for remission is addressed to the discretion of the court (People v. Parkin, 263 N. Y. 428, 431-432; People v. Cohen, 245 N. Y. 419, 421), and is conditioned upon the payment of the costs and expenses incurred in the proceedings for the enforcement of the forfeiture. (Code Crim. Pro., 598.)
National Surety's motion is a direct challenge to the right of the court to enforce the forfeiture of a void bond. by such motion National Surety seeks to invoke the inherent power, possessed by a court, to declare null and void an act performed by it which was done without authority of law and which it was beyond its power to do.
As such it is not subject to the time limitation applicable to a motion for remission of the forfeiture."
The Court held that despite the existence of bail remission procedures, the Court still maintained its inherent power to "declare null and void" an act which was done without authority of law.