01/31/02 - Posted 11:49:34 PM from the Daily Record newsroom


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 a weapon.

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 said.

"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 Linskey.

"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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