Illinois Supreme Court Places Controversial Cashless Bail Law On Hold

 Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The Illinois Supreme Court placed on hold portions of a controversial law know as the SAFE-T Act that would eliminate cash bail for some crimes.

In a ruling on Saturday afternoon—just hours before the law was supposed to be enacted—the Supreme Court placed the cashless bail provision under the SAFE-T Act on hold for the entire state. A ruling from a lower court last week placed that part of the law on hold for dozens of counties, but not all of them.

The law was slated to go into effect on 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, eliminating cash bail for some crimes. The state Supreme Court ruled that the cash bail measure would take power out of state judges’ hands.

“The emergency motion for supervisory order is allowed,” the Illinois high court wrote. “In order to maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois, the effective date of the Pretrial Fairness Act is stayed during the pendency of the appeal … and until further order of this Court.”

In late December, a Kankakee County judge ruled that cashless bail violated the state’s Constitution and would not be applied in counties that filed a lawsuit to block the measure.  Attorney General Kwame Raoul, a Democrat, criticized the ruling and said he would appeal the court ruling.

“Had the SAFE-T Act gone into effect on January 1, 2023, while litigation is pending, the administration of justice in Illinois would have been uneven, thus harming the citizens of the state,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jaime Mosser said in a joint statement. The two officials had joined the lawsuit to block the cashless bail provision, and they filed an emergency motion on Dec. 30 to suspend the law pending its resolution.

They added, “We are very pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision. The equal administration of justice is paramount to the successful and fair administration of our criminal justice system. Today’s decision will ensure that those accused of a crime in Illinois will receive equal and fair treatment throughout the State.

In a Saturday statement, Raoul wrote that it is “only the Supreme Court” that can decide “the merits will be binding on all Illinois courts.”

“It is important to note that the order issued today by the court is not a decision on the merits of the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act, and I appreciate the court’s interest in expediting the appeal. We look forward to mounting a robust defense of the constitutionality of the law and ensuring that it goes into effect across the state,” Raoul said after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (L), announce a shelter in place order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, listens, during a news conference in Chicago on March 20, 2020.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (L), announce a shelter in place order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, listens, during a news conference in Chicago on March 20, 2020. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)

Response

Proponents of the law, including Democrat state Sen. Elgie R. Sims, Jr., said that the measure would “fundamentally change” the state’s criminal justice system and claimed that Republican critics of the measure were telling “lies” about the bill when it was being considered in the state legislature.

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