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At The Palms Las Vegas: not just for frolicking & O.J. Arrest

The Palms may be famous for their exotic clubs including The Playboy Club, fantasy suites, and of course the most recent arrest of O.J. Simpson, but California bail bondsman came here for a different reason: the Annual California Bail Agents Association (CBAA) meeting and required continuing bail education. Hot on the heals of the OJ Simpson arrest, The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas hosted the 28th Annual CBAA Convention.

The Bail Industry: Local California and National

The conference opened with updates on California bail bonds and the national bail industry. On the state level, the California Bail Agent Association has formed a task force to work hand-in-hand with the California Department of Insurance, the state bail regulator, for resolution of consumer issues. Further information is to come from both sources on their websites.

Linda Braswell, Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) President, provided an update on HR2286 (Wexler/Keller), the Bail Bond Fairness Act, which has been making it’s way through congressional committees. The bill clarifies that purpose of bail bonds is to guarantee appearance of a defendant and not to guarantee provisions of a release. Such provisions might include remaining within a jurisdiction or submitting to substance testing. Historically, the bail bond purpose of ensuring appearance has been consistent. However, in 1986 a Ninth Circuit judge forfeited a bond when a defendant did not adhere to the terms of release (US v. Vaccaro). Judges have used this as precedence. In cooperation with Congress, bail agents now seek to provide clarity for federal judges as to the purpose of a bail bond being to guarantee appearance in court.

Post Conviction Bonds was the topic for Judge Nancy Russo, of the Cuyahoga County Ohio Common Pleas Court, who reviewed the benefits of Post Conviction Release Bonds. While such bonds do not currently exist, the American Legislative Exchange Council (www.alec.org) has published model legislation advocating such bonds as a means to elevate overcrowding of prisons while providing monitoring those released thereby reducing crime and providing potential increased revenue for states.

Other hot topics from the California bail convention included a regulatory update from Larissa Kosits, California Department of Insurance Senior Staff Counsel, a bail law panel, a bail recovery agents’ panel and a review of local issues and progress in the California bail profession.

Los Angeles District Attorney and California Speaker of the Assembly Address Bail Agents

The conference hosted two keynote luncheons: Steve Cooley, Los Angeles District Attorney and Fabian Nunez, Speaker of the California Assembly. Mr. Cooley reviewed and renewed the dedication of his department to upholding the integrity of the legal system including the bail industry. During Cooley's campaigning in 2004, the District Attorney indicated that bail reform was a top priority for him, noting that similar to law enforcement, a few bad apples poorly represent the larger good. Mr. Cooley continues to collect information on bail companies that engage in corrupt practices and make indictments where necessary.

Assembly Speaker Nunez ended the California Bail Agents Association conference on a high. Nunez spoke favorably for the bail industry noting that bail upholds the innocent until proven guilty ideal which is imperative in the American society. Nunez said of the bail bond industry, “at the end of the day it’s businesses like yours that keep the American dream alive and make California better place.”