I am new to the bond forfeiture-civil-world and am hoping to get some insight as to how other jurisdictions handle judgment nisi negotiations.
At least two of our local bond companies have advised that the previous prosecuting office in this area would settle for 20% or less of the bond, even if the defendant had absconded and was still at large.
Does any office follow some sort of percentage-schedule? Based on what your jurisdiction is doing, does 20% seem awfully low or is this a norm? Any guidance is much appreciated.
Our practice is that we will settle for 25% if the bondsman lets us know pretty soon after the FTA that they don't know where the defendant is (or can't get to him) and want to settle it without going through the whole forfeiture process.
A settlement after a forfeiture has been filed is costs plus a percentage, which typically increases the longer the forfeiture case has been open. That way, they still have an incentive to get things resolved quickly rather than drag it out. If they drag things out to the 180/270 day exoneration mark without settling or locating the defendant, we go after the full amount.
The more work I do, the higher percentage I want.
Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
I do not accept less than 80% if the defendant has absconded. I think you have to keep in mind the constitutional provisions that do not allow us to grant public money for a private purpose. If they can't find the defendant they owe 100% of the bond. I will reduce by 20% to avoid trial preparation.
Could anyone point me to some authority (if it exists), that would allow a county, through the county judge, to make and accept compromises after a FINAL judgment is entered? That is, may the county accept, for instance, a 10% reduction from the stated judgment total?
Arron P. Swink
Assistant County Attorney
Cherokee County, Texas
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