Illinois Supreme Court expected to issue opinion in cashless bail case

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.

The Illinois Supreme Court may issue an opinion Tuesday that could decide whether cashless bail for criminal defendants will be implemented in the state.

On Friday, Cynthia Grant, the Illinois Supreme Court clerk, informed the parties involved in a lawsuit over a criminal justice reform law known as the SAFE-T Act that an opinion may be filed at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Last year, Thomas Cunnington, chief judge of the 21st Judicial Circuit, ruled that the cashless bail provision of the SAFE-T Act was unconstitutional. The ruling was issued only days before the provision was set to take effect Jan. 1.

The provision would have eliminated the cash bail system, or payments imposed by a judge, as a condition of a person’s release pending trial.

State’s attorneys in numerous counties – such as Will, Kankakee, McHenry, DeKalb, Kendall and LaSalle – filed lawsuits to stop the cashless bail provision from taking effect. Those lawsuits eventually were consolidated Oct. 31.

On Dec. 29, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul appealed Cunnington’s ruling with the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court then paused the implementation of cashless bail “in order to maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois.”

Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow praises the work of Kelly Sullivan, who recently retired Will County State's Attorney's Office Victim Witness Advocate.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow has long opposed cashless bail. He filed a lawsuit Sept. 16 that argued cashless bail will cripple his ability to prosecute cases, “much like the courts will be stripped of their inherent authority to manage their courtrooms.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. JB Pritzker, one of the defendants named in Glasgow’s lawsuit, said his suit was a “weak attempt to protect the status quo that lets murders and abusers pay their way out of jail.”

“The SAFE-T Act not only prevents that from happening but also provides law enforcement officers the tools they need to fight crime, like body cameras, additional training and access to mental health care,” Pritzker’s spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.

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