Insolvent insurance companies cause bonds for 300,000 defendants to be canceled nationwide

Sunday, December 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ More than 300,000 criminal defendants nationwide will have their bail bonds canceled Sunday because the insurance companies that issued them have been declared insolvent.

The implications of the cancellations are not entirely clear, because individual judges have discretion on how to proceed. However, most violent criminals are held on high bail or no bail and are not expected to be affected.

Some defendants who had posted the bonds that will be canceled could be rearrested and jailed, or required to post bond a second time.

Others could be released on their own recognizance or skip bail without fear of pursuit by bounty hunters. Many will lose premiums paid to bond agents.

The two Los Angeles County-based companies, Amwest Surety Insurance and its subsidiary, Far West Insurance, were liquidated earlier this year by a judge in Lancaster County, Neb., where Amwest is incorporated.

Neil Berger, an attorney for Amwest, said the company regrets the liquidation but must observe Nebraska law.