01/31/02 - Posted 11:49:34 PM from the Daily
Chester P. Borinsky sought the right to
carry a gun. Photo by Bob Karp / Daily Record.
Bounty hunter denied gun use
By Peggy Wright, Daily Record
Ruling against a Chester Township manís request to carry
a handgun in his job, a judge in Morristown has taken the much broader step of
calling for an end to the historic practice of bounty hunting.
On Wednesday, Superior Court Assignment Judge Reginald
Stanton denied Chester P. Borinskyís bid to carry a gun as a bail enforcement
agent for the Newark-based S&S Fugitive Recovery Co. In doing so, he
denounced as "bad law" an 1872 U.S. Supreme Court case regularly cited
by bail agents as the authority for how they perform their jobs, with or without
The 1872 case, Taylor v. Taintor, seemingly gives agents
hired to apprehend bail-jumpers ó better known as bounty hunters ó
extraordinary powers to catch fugitives, without the accountability that sworn
law enforcement officers are subject to in making arrests.
Stanton said Wednesday that times have changed and that
the Legislature, with input from the state Attorney Generalís Office, should
consider laws so that only trained, public law enforcement officers ó not
private citizens working as enforcement agents ó may catch fugitives. The
130-year-old U.S. Supreme Court case does not reflect modern public safety
issues or the sophistication of criminals and should be overturned, Stanton
"This isnít optional social welfare," Stanton
said. "This is hard-core law enforcement. They (trained officers) are the
ones who should do it and have a monopoly on it."
Stantonís opinion applies strictly to the case of
Borinsky, the 35-year-old son of the late Arthur Borinsky, a former U.S.
marshal. Stanton said he did not believe Borinsky demonstrated a
"justifiable need" to carry a handgun.
People who want to carry weapons in New Jersey must show
they are of good character, know how to use a firearm and have a justifiable
need to carry one. Because the state does not have a law directly addressing the
rights of bail enforcement officers to carry weapons, the judge applied existing
gun laws to deny Borinsky.
Wednesdayís hearing was the continuation of a November
proceeding, at which the judge expressed concerns about the traditional practice
of bounty hunting. Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph DíOnofrio opposed
Borinskyís carry permit application, as did state Deputy Attorney General Lori
"We have dangerous criminals frequently armed with
firearms and private citizens going in to grab them," Stanton said.
"Itís not the same thing as being on an active public police force"
with regimented training, discipline, and accountability, Stanton said.
While Stantonís decision is binding only in the Borinsky
case, an appeal to the stateís Appellate Division, as Borinsky lawyer Evan F.
Nappen plans to do, would force a higher court to define their authority. In the
meantime, Nappen said, he believes Stantonís ruling will create chaos in the
industry and open the floodgates to fugitives captured by bail agents arguing
that their apprehensions were illegal.
The International Fidelity Insurance Co., licensed in New
Jersey, intervened in the case on behalf of Borinsky. Its counsel, Richard P.
Blender, filed papers that urged the judge to allow recovery agents to do their
jobs. Blender wrote that New Jersey courts have long recognized the obligation
of a surety to apprehend a bail-jumper, and that this duty arises from the
contract a person agrees to when he makes bond arrangements.
Dominic Farinella, president of the Philadelphia-based
National Association of Bail Recovery Agents, said he believes Stanton is wrong.
But he disagreed that a recovery agent needs a weapon to collar a fugitive,
saying he has apprehended bail-jumpers at least 900 times and only twice took
out his gun, once to fend off a ferocious dog.
"As we all know, the police are overworked and rely
on us to bring in fugitives. The bail bond industry has never cost a state a
cent for extradition," Farinella said.
Farinella said NABRA regularly trains recovery agents in
weapons safety, apprehension techniques and the laws of various states. Borinsky
said he was a firearms instructor in the Marine Corps and served as a civilian
court attendant in Essex County. He attended a police academy but dropped out
after 60 days without completing the course. He now is in his second year at
Seton Hall School of Law and working part time for S&S Recovery.
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