WHEATON, ILLINOIS - DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser filed an emergency motion to the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday asking for a statewide suspension of the enforcement of the entirety of the controversial SAFE-T Act legislation set to go into effect on Sunday.
Two collar county prosecutors released a joint statement late Friday announcing their filing of an Emergency Motion for Supervisory Order to the Illinois Supreme Court seeking clarification regarding implementation of the controversial SAFE-T Act, set to go into effect on Sunday, January 1, 2023.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser's joint statement cited the recent legal filings and court rulings out of Kankakee County's 21st Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cunnington.
Berlin and Mosser asked the Illinois Supreme Court to exercise its supervisory authority on all 102 counties in Illinois. Specifically they wrote to the court, "...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."
Further, they wrote, "as State’s Attorneys for Illinois’ second and fifth largest counties, our top priority is to protect the public. 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."
In response to the filing, Attorney General Kwame Raoul also issued a statement.
"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," Raoul's statement began. Later, Raoul said, “...my office received less than one hour’s notice of hearings in some counties and no notice at all in others. 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."
Raoul's statement finished by accusing other prosecutors of 11th-hour theatrics.
To say the SAFE-T Act has been controversial is no overstatement. Republicans claim it will mean the release of violent criminal suspects with no assurances they'll return for trial, while proponents say it's unfair that a person with limited resources has to stay jailed before trial while a wealthy one can bail out.
The Act is an expansive criminal justice overhaul that outlines numerous plans for additional police training, use-of-force by law enforcement, the filing of anonymous complaints against officers, use of body cameras, and more. Some police organizations have reported high numbers of retirements from their ranks and difficulty in recruiting newcomers who are afraid of becoming hamstrung on the job.
The most contentious aspect of the legislation has been the provision that includes the so-called Pretrial Fairness Act that would eliminate cash bail statewide, making Illinois the first state in the country to do so.
Late Wednesday night, Kankakee Circuit Court Chief Judge Thomas Cunnington ruled in favor of 65 counties that filed a consolidated lawsuit against the Pritzker Administration, Attorney General Kwame Raoul and others, arguing that certain provisions of the SAFE-T Act was unconstitutional.[1:1] Judge Cunnington's ruling means that the pretrial provisions and the no-cash-bail portions of the Act will not go into effect at the beginning of the new year for the 65 counties that participated in the suit.
That ruling was not binding by an injunction, however, leading to the actions from Berlin and Mosser today.
If the Illinois Supreme Court does not intervene, Cook County and Lake County are proceeding forward with the law as currently written starting on Sunday.
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Notes & References
Press, Associated. “Illinois Lawmakers OK Crime Bill, Plan Ends Bail.” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, December 4, 2022. https://www.chicagojournal.com/illinois-lawmakers-ok-crime-bill-plan-ends-bail/. ↩︎ ↩︎
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