Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow sues Pritzker, challenges end of cash bail in Illinois

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow has filed a lawsuit that seeks to put a stop to the elimination of cash bail in Illinois in 2023.

In a news release, Glasgow’s office announced the lawsuit was filed Friday in Will County court and names as defendants Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Gov. JB Pritzker, Illinois House Speaker Emanuel Welch and Illinois Senate President Don Harmon.

Glasgow’s lawsuit is aimed at the SAFE-T Act, which was signed by Pritzker on Feb. 22, 2021, and went into effect July 1, 2021.

The law eliminates the cash bail system, or payments imposed by a judge, as a condition of a person’s release pending trial. The law also allows Raoul’s office to conduct investigations into possible patterns or practices of unlawful policing.

Will County States Attorney James Glasgow speaks to the Herald-News on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, in Joliet, Ill.

Glasgow’s lawsuit alleges that the SAFE-T Act imposes significant new obligations on him while at the same time “fundamentally altering the criminal justice system in Illinois, especially with regard to the elimination of cash bail.”

Glasgow’s lawsuit claims that the SAFE-T Act violates the bail provisions of the Illinois Constitution and will lead to increased delays in cases handled by his office, delays in the administration of justice, as well as increased staff and workload costs.

“Without the ability to secure the appearance of defendants for trial, [Glasgow] will be severely hamstrung in his ability to proceed with the prosecution of cases, much like the courts will be stripped of their inherent authority to manage their courtrooms,” Glasgow’s lawsuit said.

Glasgow did not respond to a call about the lawsuit Friday.

Drew Hill, Raoul’s deputy press secretary, said their office will review the lawsuit when they receive it.

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.

In a statement, Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said Glasgow’s lawsuit is 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,” Abudayyeh said.

Abudayyeh said victims’ rights organizations support the law, and the state “will defend creating a more equitable criminal justice system in court.”

Glasgow’s lawsuit also took aim at Raoul’s new investigative powers over law enforcement in Illinois.

“[Glasgow] is further harmed by the fact that his employees [or the office itself] are now subject to pattern and practice investigations by defendant Raoul, and thus must devote resources to respond to these allegations whether they possess merit or not,” Glasgow’s lawsuit said.

On Sept. 8, 2021, Raoul’s office opened a civil investigation into the Joliet Police Department in response to concerns raised by city officials – including Joliet Mayor Robert O’Dekirk – regarding the 2020 death of Eric Lurry in police custody.

Glasgow himself cleared the officers involved in Lurry’s arrest of any wrongdoing because of a Will County Coroner’s Office finding that Lurry died from an accidental drug overdose.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.