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State v. Worth

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 18, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
MICHAEL HEP WORTH

          Appealed from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Suit Number 05-16-0104 Honorable Richard D. Anderson, Presiding

          Hillar C. Moore, III District Attorney Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee State of Louisiana

          Sarah Tirrell Assistant District Attorney Baton Rouge, LA

          R. Neal Wilkinson Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Defendant/Appellant American Surety Company

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.

          GUIDRY, J.

         American Surety Company appeals from a judgment of the trial court denying its motion for release from bond obligation. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant, Michael Hepworth, was arrested on November 5, 2015, for aggravated arson, aggravated criminal damage to property, theft, and resisting an officer. His bail was set in the amount of $27, 500. On November 12, 2015, A American Bail Bonds of Louisiana executed a bond on behalf of the defendant, backed by commercial surety, American Surety Company (American Surety).

         Thereafter, the defendant was charged by bill of information with aggravated criminal damage to property in violation of La. R.S. 14:55. The matter was set for arraignment on June 14, 2016, and notice was sent to American Surety; however, the defendant failed to appear in court for arraignment. The trial court ordered that a bench warrant be issued for the arrest of the defendant and rendered judgment in favor of the State of Louisiana and against the defendant and American Surety, jointly and in solido, in the full amount of the bond. The court further ordered that the notice of the entry of the forfeiture be sent to the defendant and to American Surety. The trial court signed a bond forfeiture judgment on June 15, 2016.

         On October 7, 2016, American Surety filed a motion for release from bond obligation, asserting that on August 11, 2016, the defendant was arrested and incarcerated in Davenport, Scott County, Iowa, and that the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Office was notified but failed to transport the defendant and he was released from custody. Therefore, American Surety asserted that it was entitled to be released from its bond obligation.

         A hearing on American Surety's motion was set for November 17, 2016. After several continuances, the matter was finally heard on April 5, 2017, at which time the trial court denied the motion. The trial court signed a judgment in conformity with its ruling on May 16, 2017, and American Surety now appeals from this judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure article 345(D), which was in effect at the time American Surety filed its motion for ...


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