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State v. Harris

December 27, 2005

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
TONY HARRIS, JR., DEFENDANT, AND LEXINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 03-09-3184.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stern, P.J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued November 16, 2005

Before Judges Stern, Grall*fn1 and Lihotz.

Lexington National Insurance Company appeals from an order of December 16, 2004, which granted in part but denied in part its motion for remission of the forfeiture of the bail of defendant, Tony Harris. While a remission was granted in the amount of $26,250, judgment was entered in the amount of $8,750 against the corporate surety.*fn2 On this appeal, Lexington argues that "the trial court's order forfeiting $8,750 of the bail bond was not in the interest of justice and was an abuse of discretion."

The material facts are not in dispute. The $35,000 bail was posted on January 8, 2003.*fn3 Defendant failed to appear on April 8, 2004, and bail was forfeited. Defendant was arrested on June 26, 2004. He was not captured or surrendered by Lexington, but was apprehended by the Camden County Sheriff.

The court ordered a 75% remission.

According to the certification of an agent of Lexington in support of the "motion to vacate bail forfeiture and discharge bail":

3. During the time the defendant was released on bail our office kept in close contact with him to assure his presence in Court. He was required to report to our office every week to insure he would appear in Court when required; the defendant did report as required. Attached is a checklist maintained by my office with specific dates the defendant reported to our office. The list is not inclusive of the contact he had with our office. Field agents sporadically went to his home to assure he remained available to appear in Court.

4. Immediately upon notification of the bail forfeiture a search was conducted to locate him. Investigators were sent to his last known address but to no avail. Friends and family members of the defendant were contacted who were unaware where the defendant could be located.

5. Several addresses were received in Camden, Vineland and the surrounding areas where the defendant may be located and numerous surveillance's [sic] were conducted at those locations.

Attached to the certification was a printed "check[-]in history," revealing "check-ins" by telephone while defendant was released on bail.

In opposition to the motion, the Camden County Sheriff certified as to the direct and indirect costs of operating the fugitive recovery unit of his office, which captured defendant and returned him to the County Jail. The State "also point[s] out that the . . . defendant stopped regularly reporting to the surety after April 1, 2004," over a month before Lexington ...


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