The Department of Homeland Security declared various immigration bonds breached and the surety appealed the rulings through the appropriate administrative appeals. After losing those appeals, the surety filed suit in federal court. The surety argued that the agency’s breach decision should be reviewed by the court without any deference to the agency’s decision. The federal court, however, held that it would only review the agency’s decision on an “arbitrary and capricious” standard. As such, the court would give great deference to the agency’s decision and the surety could only win if the court found that the agency’s breach decision was not reasonable or was made without adequate consideration of the facts. U.S. v. Gonzales & Gonzales (N.D. Cal. 2010).
Lesson Learned – Immigration bonds are very different than Las Vegas bail bonds. A bail bond forfeiture is decided by a court. An immigration bond breach is decided by a U.S. agency with only limited appeal rights. This is one more reason why immigration bond underwriting must be so strict.
Federal Judge Can Accept Unsecured Bond Without Proof of Solvency – Federal?A Magistrate Judge in federal court set a $100,000 unsecured bond and required three of the defendant’s family members to be co-signers on the bond. The government argued that under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 46(e), all sureties on an appearance bond must demonstrate assets adequate to cover the bond amount. The Magistrate Judge held that she could order an “unsecured” appearance bond pursuant to the catch-all provision of the Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. §3142(c)(1)(xiv): “any other condition that is reasonably necessary” to assure the defendant’s appearance and community safety. As such, the defendant was released without any evidence that the co-signers could pay $100,000 in the event of a bond forfeiture. United States v. Powell (N..D.Cal. 2010).
Lesson Learned – This case provides another example of why very few federal bail bonds are written. Federal Magistrates and Judges have very broad discretion when setting Las Vegas bail bonds and deciding on release conditions. Unsecured bonds and Pre-trial Release supervision (at taxpayer expense) are the norm.