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All Star Bail Bonds, Inc. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nevada

Supreme Court of Nevada

June 5, 2014

ALL STAR BAIL BONDS, INC.; AND SAFETY NATIONAL CASUALTY CORP., Petitioners,
v.
THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE JENNIFER P. TOGLIATTI, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and CLARK COUNTY, A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, Real Party in Interest

Original petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a district court order that denied a motion to exonerate a bail bond and entered judgment against the surety.

Mayfield, Gruber & Sheets and Damian R. Sheets, Las Vegas, for Petitioners.

Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, Steven S. Owens, Chief Deputy District Attorney, and Bart Pace, Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Real Party in Interest.

BEFORE HARDESTY, DOUGLAS and CHERRY, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1108

CHERRY, J.

NRS 178.509 allows the district court to exonerate a surety's bail bond obligations only in certain enumerated circumstances. One of those circumstances is when the defendant has been deported. NRS 178.509(1)(b)(5). In this original writ proceeding, we consider whether the defendant, who left the country voluntarily but was denied admission when he tried to return, was deported for purposes of NRS 178.509(1)(b)(5). We also consider whether common law contract defenses, such as impossibility, permit the district court to exonerate a bond. On both issues, we decide negatively. The defendant here was excluded, not deported. And the district court may not exonerate a bond without a statutory basis for doing so. Accordingly, we deny the surety's petition for extraordinary relief from the district court's order denying the motion for exoneration.

FACTS

Real Party in Interest Clark County (the State) charged Rodrigo Rascon-Flores with multiple counts relating to fraudulent use of a credit card. He appeared at his arraignment and pleaded guilty in district court. The court continued sentencing for more than six months after the guilty plea. Petitioners All Star Bail Bonds, Inc., and Safety National Casualty Corporation (collectively, the surety) posted a bond for Rascon-Flores's release.[1]

Sometime after the arraignment, Rascon-Flores traveled to Mexico. Rascon-Flores attempted to return to Las Vegas just days before his scheduled sentencing. At the border, he was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection because the U.S. Arrival System indicated a " hit," presumably due to his charges in Las Vegas. Rascon-Flores admitted his arrest and charges, and admitted to behavior consistent with his guilty plea on those charges. Customs and Border Protection detained Rascon-Flores before deciding that he was inadmissible under section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) (2012). Under the INA, federal law prohibits admitting an alien " who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of--(I) a crime involving moral turpitude . . . ." 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) (2012).

Page 1109

Federal officers then revoked Rascon-Flores's nonimmigrant visa due to his inadmissibility. Officers verified his return to Mexico.

After Rascon-Flores missed his sentencing, the district court sent a notice of intent to forfeit bond to the surety. The surety filed a motion to exonerate the bond. The government opposed the motion and the surety replied. After a hearing, the district court denied the motion but stayed entry of judgment on the forfeiture for 30 days in order to give the surety time to petition for writ relief. The surety could not file for writ relief within 30 days, however, because it did not receive the hearing transcript and written order until ...


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