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In the landmark legal case State v. French (88 Wn. App. 586, Wash. Ct. App. 1997), the affidavit of prejudice emerged as a pivotal issue. This case, involving Amwest Surety Insurance Company’s appeal against the forfeiture of a $75,000 bond for defendant James Robert French, delves deep into the nuances of RCW 10.64.025 and the seldom-discussed yet crucial affidavit of prejudice.

Background: Conviction and Bond Controversy

James Robert French, accused of serious crimes, was released on a significant $75,000 bond secured by Amwest, his company. Post-conviction, the trial court faced a complex decision regarding his release and the bond’s status. Amwest challenged this, arguing for automatic bond exoneration at conviction, a point initially rejected by the court.

Amwest’s strategic move to file an affidavit of prejudice highlighted a critical element of legal proceedings. This affidavit enables parties to question a judge’s impartiality, seeking a different judge when bias is perceived. As a new litigant, Amwest’s action ignited discussions on the affidavit’s timeliness and necessity.

Trial Court’s Perspective

Initially, the trial court found Amwest’s affidavit of prejudice untimely, interpreting that Amwest’s involvement commenced with its listing as the surety on French’s bond.

Appellate Court’s Reinterpretation

Contrasting with the lower court, the appellate court recognized the distinct role of a surety in criminal cases. A surety like Amwest, it noted, becomes a central party only when specific actions, such as bond forfeiture motions, are filed.

The appellate court cited previous rulings and legal doctrines, affirming that the right to file an affidavit of prejudice applies to new participants in ongoing cases. This right, the court emphasized, is vital for maintaining fairness, especially in intricate legal scenarios involving surety companies.

Conclusion: A Landmark Ruling on Judicial Impartiality

The appellate court’s decision to reverse the lower court’s ruling and uphold Amwest’s right to an affidavit of prejudice set a significant precedent. This ruling underscores the judicial system’s commitment to impartiality and equity, especially in complex legal situations involving bail bonds and surety companies.

State v. French thus becomes an essential case for understanding the complexities and applications of affidavits of prejudice, shaping future legal strategies and judicial considerations in similar cases.

Does a Bonding Company get their own Affidavit of Prejudice

You can read the text of State v. French 88 Wn. App. 586 (Wash. Ct. App. 1997) here:

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We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us