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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bondsman Seeks Help in Issue of Critical Importance

Editors note: Below is a letter I received from a bondsman in southwest Missouri seeking help in determining why bonds are disappearing in his/her circuit.

This is a sincere request that I believe is of the most critical importance. Our judge is the head of an organization of circuit judges in Mo. I am effectively out of business down here. It has spread to Barry County and will expand quickly to other circuits. It is kind of like an experiment. Other judges are experimenting in other ways for example one judge in Jasper County. Carthage is utilizing a cash bond in conjunction with a surety bond. I do not know why they are doing it, possibly for revenue? Perhaps for political reasons I’m not aware of? This is the beginning of the end for all of us and this issue needs to be addressed quickly and we have little time left. I assure you that if we don’t deal with it now, we will all be out of a reasonable living very soon. I mean all of us! Many who read this know of me. I’ve been a bondsman since 1998.


  1. Could you please tell us what counties specifically, and what judges, and what they are doing? That may help if we need to take action to know who, what and where we need to take the action.

  2. Bondsman seeking help!
    Help from who?
    I have been doing this for 16 years and what the Judges are doing are not experiments. My advice to you is look for another job. The Bail Bond Industry as we know it, is on its way out.

    There use to be a day, when Bondsman, Judges and law enforcement all co-operated in dealing with defendants and criminal cases. Those days are long gone. Why? Because several years ago, the bail bond industry and several General agents, some of which were working with Insurance companies, decided that they wanted to tell the Judges how to do thier jobs.

    That legislation cost us our biggest allies.
    Now, many of those same bondsman and or general's have implimented some of the most un-ethical, loan shark mentality, and thug attitudes that have contributed to digging an even deeper whole in this industry. Some of those even sit today on the States review board.
    Those tatics, solicitations and mass credit bonding has contributed to the down fall of this industry to the point of no return.

    When a Judge sets a bond, (lets say at 50,000) and a bondsman will write that bond for 500 down and take payments. You spit in the Juges face, the PA's face and the victims face. Pretty sure, those people take that a little personal.

    So, how you going to fix it?? what, by introducing more legislation to further tell the Courts how to do thier Jobs. Yea, that'll fix it.

    Better pay attention. The Judges, the PA's, the criminals and the victims are not going anywhere. The only ones who are going to be kicked out of this game are the bondsman. Some say we serve a great purpose to the system. Use to!!, but when we line our pockets in the process, and we try to tell them how to do it. You can pretty well figure that they have had enough. They have had enough of us, law enforcement have had enough of us and in all honesty, the Department of Insurance has had enough of us. This industry has been its own worse enemy for years and has no one to blame but itself.
    Pure speculation or truth?? Sit and watch what happens next.

    Tim Bruce / General Agent
    Springfield, Mo.

  3. Yes we do have a judge here in Jasper County who is also requiring a cash bond on top of a surety. As I have been told he is doing it due to bondsman that will turn a person in then bond them back out right away. Also we have bondsman that are getting people out with little to no money and collateral. He has gotten very upset with these bondsman and unfortunately taken it out on all of us bondsman. I have talked to said judge and tried to explain the situation but unfortunately he is still doing it. It is not right but unfortunately the bad bondsman that are causing this problem. I wish I could figure this out and fix it but have had no luck sorry.

  4. The city of St Louis has been doin it for years. Nuthin new just makes it harder to post bonds...they ar nicknamed Swiney bonds, because he is the one who started it.

  5. Tim your talking to the choir, Yes you know me I`m a good friend of Herb and Ken. Yes I have several other jobs. You have Judge Conklin as an ally, I have a retaliatory Judge. Tim I am not one of those unsavory bondsman that you speak of so don`t be high minded. It will happen to you as well.
    To anonymous that asks where the area is.
    What type of action do you propose?
    Basically the information I received was first hand from the Judge. If a person can afford to post a bond, regardless of where the money came from. The person must obtain an attorney for his/her court case. This is the only issue I`m aware of. The Judge made it clear as crystal that is what he wants, He is the Judge. Other bondsman do not care or they do not instruct their customers of this issue,
    I told the Judge I understood this and it was my policy to inform the customer before hand and gave them opportunity to back out of the bond before it was written.
    I don`t need some condescending thoughtless
    comment on my situation,I`m looking for tactful
    Ideas from some of the greater minds I know read these forums.

  6. To the one I know???

    I am not speaking as a high minded individual and Judge Conklin is an allie of all Bondsman. I know that this affects me as well. That is why I have two other business' that I operate.

    The problem is, the bondsman who have caused most of this, do not think they are doing anything wrong. (go figure) Legislation of any kind cannot, or will not segregate when half of them play both sides of the fence anyway.

    Individual Judges have the right to operate thier own courts as they see fit. (should be anyway) The Judges all communicate Statewide and they all discuss options on how to address the issues that revolve around the bail bond industry. They all agree that we do serve, or atleadt use to serve a purpose with in the Justice system. What they have discovered, is that this industry as I stated, is its own worse enemy and 10% cash bonds, ROR bonds, Signature bonds, are a whole lot easier for them, rather than have to put up will all our crap. (don't blame them one bit)

    If anyone proposes any kind of new legislation to fix the problems as some have, the ones who are the problem get involved and it never turns out the way that it should. Don't think that dirtbag bondsman are just going to sit by and let you run them off. (The Judges all know this too!) That is why they are looking for a fix that is easier for them to enforce individually.

    Trust me, I wish things were the way that they use to be. Those days are gone. Bondsman are popping up like apples falling from a tree. If you get rid of one bad apple, 6 more show up.

    I just do not think that there is any kind of fix that we as an industry can impliment, enforce and make everyone happy at the same time. (but hey, I am an optimist. I still buy lottery tickets too!)

    Tim Bruce/General Agent
    Springfield, MO.

  7. The last thing we need is to antagonize the Judges anymore. Obviously it is their court and we have no right to question the manner that they administer it. It is in their power to deny or grant the style or type of bonds they will allow.
    To those greedy unsavory bondsman out their, you know who you are. I believe the Judges set a bond for a reason, Although it is not suppose to be punitive and I stress this only because of the spit in the face comment and a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. It is meant as
    incentive only that the person appear in court
    based on information the prosecutor receives from law enforcement. It is proven based on statistics that those bonds posted with a surety are far more likely to appear when a bondsman is involved, It is called accountability. Most responsible sureties ensure their clients go to court. The biggest issue pointed out by Tim has been the practice of taking a very small down payment on the larger bonds and putting them back in jail when they have no prospect for payment. Common sense
    tells us that if they cannot pay you, they cannot pay for an attorney. This puts a strain on the public defenders and extends the time a case can be disposed of. I believe this is the main problem we are having. I know alot of Generals do not want anyone involved in our financial business and herein lies the problems we now face. I simply do not believe it has been addressed as yet. Please tell me if I`m wrong. I don`t see a problem with taking payments so long as they are not put back in jail for it. This is what collateral is used for. We need to get back to basics of securing a bond properly so we may have recourse when there is an issue for non payment instead of using Thug tactics to extract it from the clients. That is the proper way to do it,in civil court. Take the time with your clients so
    they know what is expected and have a back up plan. Look into their finances, you have that right before you bond them out. Don`t be greedy,You are exposing yourselves and your generals to ten times the liability, cover your butts. It is in your best interests to make sure your clients have good representation so they feel comfortable in their situation and they will be less likely to run on you! Maybe we should be getting all the money up front, we won`t have to chase after money. If they cannot afford to bond out, Perhaps the Judges will then lower the bond amounts so they can do so.
    Align yourselves with one or more attorneys whom you trust to do a good job and you never know, you may find yourself needing their help one day.

  8. This is what I mean. Not in my life time or yours, are you ever going to get all the Bondsman in this State to agree on anything.

    If you go back to the original concept of bail bonds and bail being nothing more than an extension of the Jail. I am not real sure where it is acceptable by any Judge that credit be extended to any defendant. If a Judge wants a defendant out for $500.00, he'll set the bond at $500.00

    Maybe since I may not know what I am talking about, you should check in to what the State of Arkansas implimented almost a year ago after that State considered that cheap credit bonding that was putting defendants back on the streets for little or no money was considered to be of great public safety issues. Louisiana is close behind, along with New Mexico and portions of Arizona.

    The concept of collateral was ideally for the principal of the bond. This became popular as half the General Agents licensed today, if not partnered up with an insurance company couldn't pay a 50,000.00 forfieture if they had to and the Judges already know this.

    As the number of General Agents and Bail Bond Agents steadily increase, there has become so much competition in each County that discount letters and cheaper rates and credit bonding was born. If everyone had stood thier ground, I promise you that the majority of defendants would come up with all the money to bond out.

    There in lies the options of a good bondsman. Do you take the money and run, or do you responsibly explain to your client what all thier options are? Do you explain to them that at a certain point they will not qualify for a public defender? Do you even remotely explain to them that if they hire an attorney first, the attorney could request a bond reduction, allowing them to both bond out and have an attorney for the same amount of money?

    The current bail bond laws on the books are sufficient if enforced. If the bail bond industry of this state truly conducted themselves in a proffessional and ethical manner, then for the most part there wouldn't be all the issues we are facing.

    Unfortunatley, the un-ethical and un-proffessional bondsman, both agent and general agents in this state honestly do not feel that they are doing anything wrong and certainly will not change.

    I would absolutely love to be able to turn the clock back 10 years and impliment some kind of control over the ethics and proffessionalism of this industry before it had gotten out of hand, but sadley none of us can do that.

    So, whats the answer??? Allow the Judges to have control of thier courts back, consult with the Judges and the ethical bondsman in your area and I promise you, If allowed to do so, the Judges will clear out the problem bondsman and help in putting everything back on track. Alienate the Judges, and you will have nothing.

    Tim Bruce
    General Agent
    Springfield, Mo.

  9. It looks like I answered my own question.
    The problem with the answer is this.
    The selfish will take advantage of this method
    of discretion and take that risk even to the detriment of their generals! I can count several
    that have gone out of business because of selfishness and greed without regard for their company or generals. Perhaps this is food for thought for the generals, some of you need to be much more careful who you allow to obligate
    and trust your property with.
    I hope your all thinking about things that must change for our survival. Tim your right but don`t throw in the towel, I refuse to do it!
    I am treating this like a bad runner, I need to stew and think about it before I go half cocked. As far as the person who asked where the
    situation is, I`m waiting for your reply, what
    action do you propose? I propose no action, I believe we have done enough and this is where it will get us,It will really be upsetting to any judge and that is not the idea. The idea is to reason with the Judges and change our ways.
    It is either we change our behavior or we die off as the most viable pretrial release program ever devised by man that has no cost at
    all to the tax paying public! It is this simple.

  10. That`s the answer I was looking for Tim I knew
    you had it all along, you simply replied right before I answered! Folks this is what we must do!
    We must have a delegation or a representative
    Judge that can talk on our behalf. I do not have that in my area. Thank you Tim for such an accurate answer! For the rest of us. I believe I can get some information from a buddy down in Ark.
    If our kind moderator will allow, I will post it on here. Inaction is not a choice we have! The right kind of action may make all the difference in the world.
    The right person in the right forum (Judges
    talking to other Judges) Can make a difference!
    Tim you gave an excellent answer, Thank You!
    This may be our very last opportunity to get it right. If anyone has a strong relationship with
    their Judge, Please talk to them. If you love your Job, We must do this. I believe that is what this forum was designed to do. I know of faster generic forums however I`m sure our moderator can and would speed things up.
    Thank you madam moderator for all the help!

  11. My opinion goes with deeper issues. 1. In many counties I see bondsmen "bribing" jailers. Either by cash, food, or offering your parking lot for closer parking. It's all the same to me. You give, you take it's not right. This is where allot of complaints to the jail/courts start. The captains,sheriffs, and judges catch wind of the issues over and over. They can't go fire all the workers so they find a way to slow us down. We as bondsmen have corrupted the system from the bottom up. It is greed but not from the generals. It's greed from the local guys that get to friendly with jailers. It's greed from the bondsman that claim " this is my county" "this is my jail". This causes bondsman to work the courts, stay in the jail waiting on a bond, and sending out letters. Bondsmen with out an "in" source in the jails will fail because we don't offer extras to jail employees. This is a problem everywhere.

  12. Why can't they fire every jailer who takes kick backs and block every Bondsman who solicits in the jail?

    I can't think of a single reason they couldn't do that. Eventually it'll become part of the jail culture and the surviving jailers will see that the short term gain isn't worth the long term loss.

    The same logic would apply to us bondsman. If we had a few Bondsmen get shut down in their counties for this would you risk it?

  13. How about bondsman working in jails? Bob Agles works in the Miller County Jail. He gets through the loophole that he doesnt work for the county, but 911 as a contractor. However, half the time he is sitting in booking.

    I have seen him write a bond and then go to work.

  14. It takes time and money to train jailers. Plus most captains/sheriffs deny any jailer wrong doing from my past issues. Also if you do get a jailer fired you will see rejection from other jailers, I have had this happen to me.


Although Missouri Bondsman encourages debate on topics of interest to the bail industry, please be aware that comments are moderated. Please observe the posting rules. No comments will be printed that contain spam, profanity, or libelous comments. Please post comments in a civil, professional manner.