April 12, 2017
OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
from Charleston County Stephanie P. McDonald, Circuit Court
T. Williams, Sr. and Benjamin Allen Stitely, both of
Williams, Stitely & Brink, PC, of Lexington, for
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and V. Henry Gunter,
Jr., both of Columbia, and Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson, of
Charleston, for Respondent.
appeal arises from an order estreating a surety bond and
remitting one-half of the bond forfeiture. The court of
appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion. State v.
Mitchell, Op. No. 2016-UP-070 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Feb.
17, 2016). We affirm the court of appeals' holding that
the bond estreatment was proper and that the amount of
forfeiture remitted was not arbitrary or capricious. We hold
that the circuit court may consider the willfulness of a
bondsperson's actions, in addition to the willfulness of
a defendant's actions, when determining whether, and to
what extent, to remit a bond forfeiture.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Mitchell was arrested for possession with intent to
distribute cocaine and was released on a $25, 000 surety
bond. Subsequently, Mitchell was arrested for trafficking in
cocaine, distribution of cocaine, and involuntary
manslaughter; bond was set at $400, 000. Mitchell's bonds
were then consolidated for all his pending charges and the
circuit court set a $150, 000 surety bond. Bond conditions
included a standard good behavior condition, plus house
arrest and electronic monitoring. AA Ace Bail by Frances and
Palmetto Surety Corporation (collectively, Bond Company)
executed the $150, 000 surety bond and Mitchell was released.
the State moved to revoke Mitchell's bond on the basis
that Mitchell blatantly disregarded the house arrest and
electronic monitoring provisions of his bond and thus,
violated the "good behavior" requirement of the
bond contract.Mitchell appeared at the revocation hearing
and testified that he was never informed of the conditions of
his bond and that he was never informed he was violating a
condition of his bond.
bondsperson, Frances Jenkins, testified at the revocation
hearing th at she has b een a bo ndsper son f or almost
twenty years. She testified she was aware electronic
monitoring was a condition of Mitchell's bond. Jenkins
admitted the monitoring company contacted her two to three
times to inform her that Mitchell was violating the
electronic monitoring conditions; she testified that she in
turn contacted Mitchell and told him to "tighten
up." Concerning her responsibilities as a bondsperson,
Jenkins initially testified, "I write appearance bonds,
not behavior bonds." Later during her testimony, she
conceded that her responsibilities as a bondsperson include
helping to enforce bond conditions other than the
defendant's appearance in court.
Robinson, the owner of the monitoring company, testified at
the revocation hearing that his office contacted Mitchell and
Jenkins on several occasions regarding the electronic
monitoring violations, and that after continuing violations,
his office notified Jenkins she needed to arrest Mitchell
because "it was very obvious" that he was staying
out all night. Robinson testified "it got to where there
was just no compliance" and that Mitchell committed
daily house arrest and electronic monitoring violations.
Robinson testified he advised Jenkins that it appeared
Mitchell was "out there doing drug transactions."
Robinson testified that Jenkins refused to pick Mitchell up
and responded, "well, that's how he makes a
living." Jenkins denied telling Robinson that she knew
Mitchell made money dealing drugs.
circuit court found Mitchell's claims of ignorance as to
the conditions of his bond were not credible and revoked the
bond for repeated violations of the terms and conditions of
the bond. Mitchell was placed in custody until he pled guilty
and was sentenced to a term of incarceration.
August 8, 2012, the State filed a Notice of Forfeited
Recognizance seeking estreatment of the bond posted by Bond
Company. The circuit court held two hearings on the motion,
and on July 9, 2014, the circuit ...