Breaking: Illinois Supreme Court puts end of cash bail on hold until further notice

The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered courts statewide to continue operating on the cash bail system until further notice, according to an order issued by the court Saturday afternoon.

A provision of the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform bill scheduled to go into effect on January 1 would have eliminated cash bail across the state. But a Kankakee County judge found that portion of the law unconstitutional last week.

The Supreme Court’s action stems from a filing by DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser on Friday afternoon that sought guidance from the Supreme Court to clear up confusion about whether the Kankakee County judge’s decision affected all 102 counties or only the 60-plus counties that were involved in the lawsuit that challenged the SAFE-T Act.

Berlin and Mosser asked the Supreme Court to step in because, without intervention by the high court, “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.”

Confusion about the future of the bail measure began shortly after Judge Thomas Cunnington’s ruling was announced Wednesday evening. Soon after Cunnington’s decision came down, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office issued a press release saying Cunnington’s finding was “not binding” in any county. But more than 60 counties involved in the lawsuit said they would not adopt the bail reform measure.

Cook County officials said on Thursday that cash bail would end in its court system on January 1. But officials in several other counties not involved in the lawsuit went to court on Friday and won temporary restraining orders blocking the law. Before the Supreme Court’s decision, about 70 of the state’s 102 counties were planning to keep the cash bail system.

The Supreme Court order said the bond reform start date is on hold “to maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois” pending an appeal of the Kankakee judge’s decision by Raoul.

All other amendments and orders of the court associated with the Pretrial Fairness Act scheduled to become effective on January 1 are held in abeyance until further order of the Supreme Court, the order said.

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