Two suburban state’s attorneys ask Supreme Court for emergency action to clarify cash bail mish-mash

Top prosecutors in two suburban counties are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to quickly provide guidance about whether or not the state’s courts should proceed with the elimination of cash bail on January 1.

A Kankakee County judge presiding over a lawsuit involving state’s attorneys and sheriffs from more than 60 counties ruled on Wednesday night that the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform bill’s elimination of monetary bail is unconstitutional.

However, Judge Thomas Cunnington did not issue a statewide injunction to prevent the law from taking effect, leading many officials to believe that his decision only prevents cash bail from being implemented in the counties named in the lawsuit.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser | Robert Berlin; Kane County State’s Attorney’s office

The confusion grew shortly after Cunnington’s ruling was announced Wednesday evening, when Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office issued a press release saying Cunnington’s finding was “not binding” in any county.

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. About 70 of the state’s 102 counties are now poised to maintain the cash bail system.

The resulting jumble of some counties keeping cash bail and others not prompted DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser to ask the Supreme Court for an emergency order on Friday afternoon.

Berlin, a Republican, and Mosser, a Democrat, issued a statement saying they want the court to “enter an order sufficient to maintain consistent pretrial procedures [statewide] because without such an order, 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.”

Neither Kane nor DuPage counties were involved in the lawsuit, and both Berlin and Mosser worked with legislators to improve the SAFE-T Act after its initial passage.

“We have no personal or political agenda regarding the Safe-T-Act and remain committed to serving the residents of DuPage and Kane Counties under legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor,” Berlin and Mosser said in their written statement.

Raoul, the state attorney general, issued his own statement Friday night, calling some counties’ decisions to seek temporary restraining orders “11th hour theatrics.”

Raoul pointed to the action by Berlin and Mosser as “an appropriate way to challenge a new law.”

Earlier Friday, the attorney general’s office filed a notice of intent to appeal the Kankakee County judge’s ruling.

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