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In re Lewis Bonding Co.

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 19, 2017

IN RE LEWIS BONDING COMPANY

          Assigned on Briefs May 2, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C-16-205 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The appellant, Lewis Bonding Company, appeals the denial of its "Petition to Allow Lewis Bonding Company to Use Real Property as Security Collateral, " arguing the trial court abused its discretion by denying the appellant's request to pledge real property to underwrite bonds in lieu of a cash deposit with the clerk of court. The State contends the trial court's denial of the petition was a proper use of its broad discretion to regulate bondsmen. Following our review of the record and pertinent authorities, we agree with the State and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lewis Bonding Company.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE

         Facts and Procedural History

         This appeal arises as the result of the trial court's denial of the appellant's request to use unencumbered real property located at 212 East Main Street, Jackson, Tennessee, valued at $120, 000.00, as collateral security for bail bonds written in the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District. In its petition, the appellant argued it has been authorized, without incident, to write bail bonds in the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District since 1960 and has $80, 000.00 deposited with the court clerk as collateral and requested permission from the trial court to substitute the real property as collateral in lieu of the cash.

         The trial court held an evidentiary hearing in which Daryl Lewis, an owner of Lewis Bonding Co., testified he has been writing bonds in the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District for fifty-five years and is in good standing with the court and all licensing agencies. He understood the local rules require bail bondsmen to post collateral with the court and confirmed the appellant had $80, 000.00 deposited in the court clerk's office in compliance with that requirement. According to Daryl, [1] the appellant wished to substitute the cash security with unencumbered real property located at 212 East Main Street, Jackson, Tennessee, the office building from which the bond company operated. Daryl and his brother, Mr. David Lewis, owned the property. Daryl testified he and David would use the $80, 000.00 retrieved from the court clerk to pay for building renovations.

         David Lewis testified next. David confirmed he and his brother wished for the trial court to take the unencumbered title to the real estate located at 212 East Main Street, Jackson, Tennessee, and place it in the clerk's office in lieu of the $80, 000.00 currently held by the court clerk as a security deposit. David further confirmed they wished to use the $80, 000.00 to renovate their office building and, thereby, increase its value. If the trial court would accept the unencumbered title as the Tennessee-mandated security deposit, then he would happily execute the paperwork necessary to ensure the proper security interest vests with the court clerk.

         At the conclusion of their testimony, the trial court required Daryl and David Lewis to undergo random drug screenings. Following the screenings, David Presson, a probation officer with Madison County Community Corrections, testified as to the results. Mr. Presson indicated he performed a ten panel drug screen on both gentlemen, and the results were negative for both.

         After receiving the results of the drug screening, the trial court denied the petition, stating, "[W]e want bondsmen who are willing to invest their money and their time and their resources in the bonding business." Other local bail bond companies posted the requisite cash collateral, so the trial court found the appellant must do the same and could only retrieve the $80, 000.00 cash collateral if it ...


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