Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul appeals Kankakee County judge’s ruling on cashless bail

Raoul blasts ‘11th hour theatrics’ by prosecutors, sheriffs to block SAFE-T Act

Illinois State Attorney General Kwame Raoul addresses members of the community on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at Joliet Area Historical Museum in Joliet, Ill. Illinois State Attorney General Kwame Raoul and his team held a small meeting with community members after his announcement of a civil investigation into the Joliet Police Department.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a notice Friday to appeal a Kankakee County judge’s ruling that the cashless bail provision of the SAFE-T Act is unconstitutional, about two days before the provision is set to take effect across the state.

Raoul is appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court following Wednesday’s ruling from Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington that found a provision of the SAFE-T Act that allows defendants to be released without cash bond was in violation of the Illinois Constitution.

Early next week, Raoul’s attorneys plan to request an expedited schedule and proceed according to the schedule set by the Illinois Supreme Court, according to Raoul’s office.

Raoul also criticized “11th hour theatrics” by some prosecutors and sheriffs in Illinois to prevent the SAFE-T Act from going into effect by filing motions for temporary restraining order on Friday.

Raoul said some of those motions seek to prohibit his office from enforcing any provisions of the SAFE-T Act, not just the pretrial provisions that led to the lawsuit.

“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.

Raoul said his office also learned of plaintiffs obtaining a temporary restraining order without giving his office notice or providing copies of the complaints or motions.

“To say that this is an abuse of the judicial process is an understatement,” Raoul said.

Because of Cunnington’s ruling, many counties throughout Illinois – with the notable exception of Cook County – plan to not implement the cashless bail provision of the SAFE-T Act that is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.

While Cunnington found cashless bail was unconstitutional, he did not grant prosecutors’ request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of the bail provisions in the SAFE-T Act.

That was apparently not needed because Cunnington issued a final decision on the merits of the case by holding the pretrial provisions of the SAFE-T Act unconstitutional, according to Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s Office.

Cunnington’s decision was binding only in the consolidated case, Raoul’s spokeswoman April McLaren said.

Cunnington’s ruling does not affect the rights of other people, including criminal defendants awaiting trial, who were not parties in the case, and whose rights under the SAFE-T Act and Illinois Constitution remain unaffected by Cunnington’s ruling, McLaren said.

“As of Jan 1, individuals – who are presumed innocent until proven guilty – will have the right to seek release from jail pending their trials – as allowed by the SAFE-T Act and the Illinois Constitution. Judges in those individual cases will have to decide if they agree with Judge Cunnington’s decision,” McLauren said.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News