The Illinois Supreme Court has issued an order halting the cashless bail provision of the SAFE-T Act from going into effect statewide on Sunday.
The Illinois Supreme Court issued the order Saturday afternoon, saying that in order to “maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois” the effective date of the Pretrial Fairness Act has been stayed until further order.
The court’s action comes after DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser filed an emergency motion for supervisory order with the court on Friday.
Berlin, a Republican, and Mosser, a Democrat, accepted an invitation from Illinois Senate President Don Harmon’s Deputy Chief of Staff to serve on a group of stakeholders that included three state’s attorneys to remedy “glaring deficiencies” in the new Safe-T-Act legislation that was passed by the General Assembly.
The group assisted in modifying the legislation, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor earlier this month.
“In our opinion, these amendments go a long way in rectifying many, but not all, of the anticipated problems if the law was allowed to go into effect as written,” the two state’s attorneys said.
Berlin and Mosser said that Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington’s ruling earlier this week has caused confusion statewide regarding the implementation of the law, which was set to go into effect Sunday.
The emergency motion asked the Illinois Supreme Court to “exercise its supervisory authority to enter an order sufficient to maintain consistent pretrial procedures because without such an order, defendants in different jurisdictions will be subject to different treatment upon arrest and throughout pretrial proceedings, creating an equal protection problem for citizens across the State.”
“As State’s Attorneys for Illinois’ second and fifth largest counties, our top priority is to protect the public,” the two state’s attorneys said in a joint statement.
“We have no personal or political agenda regarding the Safe-T-Act and remain committed to serving the residents of DuPage and Kane Counties under legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor,” the statement said.
Dozens of state’s attorneys had filed separate lawsuits against the SAFE-T Act, which eliminates cash bail in Illinois.
Those were later consolidated into a single case out of Kankakee County.
Cunnington made a ruling in the case Wednesday evening in favor of the plaintiffs by declaring the Pre-Trial Fairness Act unconstitutional.
His ruling means the bail reform and pre-trial release provisions are unconstitutional and will not go into effect on January 1 in the 65 counties that were plaintiffs in the lawsuit, according to Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe.
The other provisions in the SAFE-T Act, such as the body camera requirements and police training, were upheld and will still go into effect. Some portions of the SAFE-T Act are already in effect.
Cunnington said the SAFE-T Act violates the Separation of Powers clause, violates the Victim Rights Act and unconstitutionally amends Article I Section 9 of the Constitution because voters were denied their right to vote on such amendments.
“… had the Legislature wanted to change the provisions in the Constitution regarding eliminating monetary bail… they should have submitted the question on the ballot to the electorate at a general election,” Cunnington said.
He also said that the legislature’s action in violation of the Separation of Powers “stripped away” the court’s ability to ensure the safety of a victim and their family.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said his office is appealing the court’s ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Other counties, that were not part of the lawsuit, have since sought court orders to prevent the enforcement of the SAFE-T Act in their counties.
“Beginning this morning, the Attorney General’s office received new complaints and motions for temporary restraining orders (TROs) from state’s attorneys and sheriffs throughout Illinois who are seeking to prevent the SAFE-T Act from going into effect. To be clear, these motions were filed on the last business day before Jan. 1, when the SAFE-T Act will go into effect,” Raoul said in a statement Friday evening.
“In some of these TRO motions, plaintiffs are asking that the Attorney General’s office be enjoined from enforcing any provision of the SAFE-T Act, not just the pretrial release provisions. Many of these provisions have been in effect for more than a year; however, my office received less than one hour’s notice of hearings in some counties and no notice at all in others,” Raoul said.
“Throughout the day, we continued to learn of plaintiffs having obtained TROs without giving our office notice or providing copies of the complaints or TRO motions. To say that this is an abuse of the judicial process is an understatement,” he added.
Officials have said it could take months for the Illinois Supreme Court to make a final ruling on the matter.