This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Tina Margaret Brenteson,
Bartsh Bail Bonds and Nobel Insurance Company,
Bartsh Bail Bonds, et al.,
State of Minnesota,
John Howard Rose,
Filed October 31, 2000
Wright County District Court
File Nos. K5991558, K7991559
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Thomas N. Kelly, Wright County Attorney, Wright County Government Center, 10 Second Street Northwest, Room 150, Buffalo, MN 55313-1189 (for respondent State of Minnesota)
Kelly Madden, Assistant Public Defender, 1675 South Greeley Street, Stillwater, MN 55082 (for defendant Tina Margaret Brenteson)
Patrick J. Fugina, 229 Jackson Street, Suite 134, Anoka, MN 55303 (for appellant)
Thomas Schway, 245 Ruth Street, St. Paul, MN 55119 (for defendant John Howard Rose)
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Bartsh Bail Bonds posted appearance bonds of $15,000 and $20,000 on behalf of defendants Tina Brenteson and John Howard Rose. When defendants failed to appear for scheduled court hearings, the district court ordered the bail bonds forfeited. Following the subsequent apprehension of Brenteson and surrender by Rose, appellant made a motion for reinstatement and discharge of the bail. Appellant contends the district court erred by granting its motion subject to a requirement that it pay penalties of $7,500 and $10,000. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant first contends the district court erred in finding appellant was not a direct cause of Rose’s apprehension. We disagree. It is not the province of the appellate courts “to reconcile conflicting evidence.” Fletcher v. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 589 N.W.2d 96, 101 (Minn. 1999). “On appeal, a trial court’s findings of fact are given great deference, and shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.” Id. (citation omitted). A reviewing court will not disturb those findings, “[i]f there is reasonable evidence to support the trial court’s findings of fact * * *.” Id.
Here, the district court found that appellant was not “a direct cause of [Rose’s] ultimate apprehension,” but that appellant “acted in good faith to secure [Rose’s] reappearance.” The record indicates that although Rose asked for appellant’s assistance in turning himself in, he was not apprehended by appellant. Thus we conclude the record supports the district court’s findings.
Appellant next argues that the district court abused its discretion in ordering it to pay a penalty equal to 50% of the bonds. We disagree.
“By accepting a premium and agreeing to act as surety, a bond writing company undertakes to ensure that a defendant will personally appear to answer the charges against him.” State v. Williams, 568 N.W.2d 885, 888 (Minn. App. 1997) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Nov. 18, 1997). When a defendant fails to comply with bail release conditions, the court may forfeit the bond and order the surety to “pay * * * the amount for which the surety was bound * * *.” Minn. Stat. § 629.58 (Supp. 1999). In its discretion, the court “may forgive or reduce the penalty [of a forfeited bond] * * * on any terms and conditions it considers just and reasonable.” Minn. Stat. § 629.59 (Supp. 1999).
This court reviews a district court’s decision on mitigation of bail under the “abuse of discretion” standard. Farsdale v. Martinez, 586 N.W.2d 423, 425-26 (Minn. App. 1998). In determining whether the district court abused its discretion we consider
the purpose of bail and the civil nature of the proceedings and the burden of proof as well as the cause, purpose, and length of defendant’s absence; the good faith of the surety as measured by the fault or wilfulness of the defendant; the good faith efforts of the surety--if any--to apprehend and produce the defendant; and the prejudice--by way of delay or otherwise--to the state, in its administration of justice.
In re Application of Shetsky, 239 Minn. 463, 471, 60 N.W.2d 40, 46 (1953). The surety bears “the burden of proof to establish a justification for a mitigation of forfeited bail * * *.” Id. at 472, 60 N.W.2d at 46.
We cannot say the district court’s decision here was an abuse of discretion. First, although appellant returned Brenteson and assisted in the return of Rose, the fact remains that both defendants acted in bad faith and willfully defaulted on their bail by missing their court appearances. A defendant’s willfulness or bad faith is attributable to the surety. Id. at 471, 60 N.W.2d at 46. The district court found that there were mitigating factors, and returned half of the bond to appellant. The district court cited appellant’s good faith in attempting to return the defendants, and the state’s failure to show prejudice as a justification for the mitigation. See Farsdale, 586 N.W.2d at 425-26. But these factors alone do not require that the district court return the full amount of the bail forfeiture.
We reject appellant’s argument that this court’s holding in Farsdale mandates a reversal of the district court’s mitigation of bail decision. Farsdale is distinguishable from appellant’s case because in Farsdale, we reversed and remanded the district court’s refusal to mitigate any part of a $50,000 bond while the court here returned half of the bond amount to appellant. Moreover, although the Farsdale court ordered more than 50% of the bond returned, there were unique facts in Farsdale, including: (1) the district court allowed the defendant to go to Texas before sentencing without informing the bond company; and (2) the Farsdale court found that the defendant fled Minnesota because his life was in danger. Here, the defendants offered no justifiable excuse for their absence. Finally, unlike the district court in Farsdale, the district court here appropriately considered and addressed the bond company’s efforts to apprehend the defendants. Under these facts we cannot conclude that the district court abused its discretion.