On December 31, 2022 the Illinois Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act pending appeal from the Kankakee Circuit Court Order entered on December 28 which severed those portions of the Safe-T Act.
On October 31, the Illinois Supreme Court entered an order consolidating all of the pending litigation into one case pending in Kankakee. This was done by agreement of all the parties. A number of smaller counties did not originally join this lawsuit but upon entry of the Kankakee Circuit Court Order of December 28 began issuing orders and opinions that the Kankakee Order meant that the Pretrial Fairness Act was severed in their counties as well. This would obviously have lead to a great deal of litigation regarding whether the Kankakee Order applied to those counties which originally declined to join the lawsuit. The Statewide stay pending appeal curtails litigation on this subject.
On December 28, the Kankakee Circuit Court entered an order on the cross motions for summary judgment pending before it.
The 36 page opinion issued by the Kankakee Court, does a number of things. First, it dispels the State’s Attorneys’ contention that the Act violates the single subject rule in Illinois. The single subject rule essentially says that each public act (or bill) can only deal with one subject. For example, if the legislature passed an act that dealt with criminal justice and it threw in one provision regulating uses for farm fields in that same act, then it would have violated the single subject rule. The reason that the Kanakee order denying the State’s Attorneys’ argument that the Safe-T Act violates the single subject rule is important is because if a statute is found to have violated the single subject rule, then the offending provision is not simply severed rather the entire act is invalidated.
The State’s Attorneys argued that six different subjects violated the single subject rule. In its 36 page opinion, the Kankakee order dispenses with each of the State’s Attorneys’ arguments on this topic. Accordingly, the Kankakee Court refused to invalidate the statute.
Rather, the Kankakee Court reasoned that the specific provisions of the Safe-T Act which do away with cash bail violate Article I, Section 9 of the Illinois Constitution which says that “[a]ll persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties” and then lists the following exceptions: capitol offenses, offenses where life in prison may be imposed, and felonies for which a sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed. The Kankakee order specifically finds that the pretrial release provisions violate the separation of powers principle; essentially, the Kankakee Court found that the Illinois Legislature was stepping on its toes regarding the issue of bail. The Kankakee opinion goes on to sever the pretrial release provisions from the Act.
This is a circuit court order regarding a constitutional issue and it is as yet unclear what the Illinois Supreme Court will say regarding these issues, though it seems likely that the Supreme Court will concur in the analysis of the Kankakee Court that the Safe-T Act does not violate the single subject rule.
For the time being cash bail remains in place in Illinois.