CHICAGO (CBS) -- In a late afternoon ruling Saturday, the Illinois Supreme Court put thefor the entire state just hours before it was set to go into effect.
It was supposed to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1 and eliminate cash bail for some crimes.
The state Supreme Court found the measure would unfairly take discretion on bail out of the hands of judges.
"Tomorrow was supposed to be absolute chaos at 26th and California with this new law taking effect, and I think the Illinois Supreme Court realized that in making this rather late decision today to stop that from happening tomorrow," said CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller. "So I think they were sitting around today thinking, 'How are we going to remedy this catastrophe?' And I'm going to use the word catastrophe if this went ahead."
Critics of the current bail system say it unfairly punishes the poor.
The Supreme Court has not set a date to hear appeals in the case, so it is unclear when or if the measure will be enacted.
CBS 2 reached out to several state and county offices about the decision. In a joint statement, the Kane and DuPage county state's attorneys said, "We are very pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court's decision."
Attorney General Kwame Raoul also responded, saying in part, "We look forward to mounting a robust defense of the constitutionality of the law ... and ensuring that it goes into effect across the state."
Wednesday a judge in Kankakee County ruled parts of the controversial SAFE-T Act are unconstitutional, just a few days before cash bail was set to be eliminated statewide.
The ruling by 21st Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Thomas Cunnington late Wednesday found that the pretrial release portions of the SAFE-T Act violate the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution, and will not take effect in 65 counties that had sued to block the abolishment of cash bail. Other provisions of the law, including body camera requirements for police departments, and new police training mandates, will go into effect as planned on Jan. 1.
Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who have defended the law, pledged to appeal the judge's ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The following is Raoul's full statement:
As we have stated previously, my office filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court because in this matter, only the Supreme Court's final decision on the merits will be binding on all Illinois courts. It is important to note that the order issued today by the court is not a decision on the merits of the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act, and I appreciate the court's interest in expediting the appeal. We look forward to mounting a robust defense of the constitutionality of the law and ensuring that it goes into effect across the state.
The Cook County Public Defender's Office released the following statement regarding the stay:
The Illinois Supreme Court today issued an order suspending implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act while it reviews a lower court opinion that found the law unconstitutional.
The Cook County Public Defender's Office is disappointed that this historic and transformative law will not take effect as planned tomorrow, Jan. 1.
We are confident that the Supreme Court will swiftly reverse the lower court finding and confirm the constitutionality of the Pretrial Fairness Act. In the meantime, we are grateful that the court is providing uniform guidance to courts across the state.
Money bond is a deplorable practice, and it is high time that Illinois abolish a system that punishes people – most of them Black and Brown – for being poor. We decry the frivolous lawsuit that was brought against the Pretrial Fairness Act almost two years after it was signed into law.
We continue to look forward to a day in the near future when Illinois will move forward as a beacon for our nation, reforming our inequitable pretrial legal system.
The 19th Judicial District Circuit Court in Lake County, Illinois, released the following statement:
On Saturday, December 31, 2022, hours before Lake County was to begin following the SAFE-T Act, eliminating cash bail, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a stay statewide in a Motion for Supervisory Order Kankakee County Circuit Court 22CH16.
As a result, the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court will act in accordance with the Illinois Supreme Court and any amendments or orders entered by or associated with the Pretrial Fairness Act that would become effective on January 1, 2023, are hereby stayed until further order of the Illinois Supreme Court.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser released the following statement on the stay:
This afternoon, the Illinois Supreme Court granted an Emergency Motion for Supervisory Order jointly filed by our offices that will suspend implementation of the SAFE-T Act pending resolution of current litigation. In our motion, which was filed late Friday afternoon, we sought "an order sufficient to maintain consistent pretrial procedures" to not only clarify the implementation of the SAFE-T Act, but to also maintain an orderly administration of justice. Had the SAFE-T Act gone into effect on January 1, 2023, while litigation is pending, the administration of justice in Illinois would have been uneven, thus harming all the citizens of the State. Additionally, DuPage and Kane Counties, would have faced additional challenges as multiple municipalities are in multiple counties, some of which were bound by the pending litigation and others that were not.
We are very pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court's decision. The equal administration of justice is paramount to the successful and fair administration of our criminal justice system. Today's decision will ensure that those accused of a crime in Illinois will receive equal and fair treatment throughout the State.
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