The Illinois Attorney General’s Office filed opening arguments in the state’s Supreme Court on Thursday, seeking to overturn a judge’s ruling that parts of the controversial SAFE-T law were unconstitutional.
One of the goals of the landmark criminal justice bill was to eliminate cash bail in the state. This made Illinois the first state in the nation to do so.
The bail reform was set to go into effect on January 1, but was canceled at the last minute after Kankakee County Chief Justice Thomas Cunnington called a group of prosecutors and sheriff’s offices against the bill.
Opponents filed 64 nearly identical cases challenging the reform known as the Pretrial Fairness Act, but they were consolidated into one case before Kankakee County Chief Justice Thomas W. Cunnington.
On December 28, Cunnington ruled that, except for certain crimes, it was part of an act that violated the state constitution’s requirement that the defendant be released on bail “with sufficient bond.” He also found that it violated the separation of powers between the judiciary and the legislature.
“The adequacy of bail is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts and not to be determined by statutory law,” Cunnington wrote in the judgment.
In Thursday’s filing, Attorney General Kwame Raul’s office argued that Cunnington’s decision was “flawed” and that the state’s constitution requires Illinois to “maintain a monetary bail system.” He claimed he didn’t.
“The Circuit Court’s opposing decision should be reversed,” the office argued.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, state bail constitutional language seeks to generally guarantee the right of a defendant who is presumed innocent to seek pretrial release while the case is pending.
It argued that the wording did not explicitly include monetary bail. He argued that history was on its side.
At the time, the Attorney General’s Office said the defendants’ continued appearances were ensured by their friends and family’s promises to ensure that they would appear at trial.
Raul’s office also cited a dictionary definition of bail that dates back before the United States was a country that had never linked bail to the act of placing cash deposits.
“Certainly, defendants released before trial, or ‘bailed’, have historically been subject to both financial and non-monetary terms intended to ensure that they appear at trial.” He was released. But the law’s pretrial release clause allows courts to do just that,” the attorney general’s office argued.
The filing also argues that key case law empowers the legislature to set policy, and that Cunnington’s reasoning for finding the act violated separation of powers was “grossly flawed.” ‘ said.
The Supreme Court argued that “the General Assembly never held that it unreasonably violated its powers by setting the conditions under which it could exercise them.”
Opponents of the law must submit their responses by February 17. Oral arguments are scheduled for March, but no date has been set.
In addition to reforming the bail system, the SAFE-T Act also addresses longstanding public safety issues, some of which are already in effect. The regulations set a requirement that all police officers in the state be equipped with body-worn cameras to extend services to victims of crime.