Illinois Supreme Court expected to rule on elimination of cash bail Tuesday

The Illinois Supreme Court is scheduled to issue an opinion Tuesday deciding whether cashless bail for criminal defendants will be implemented in the state.

Illinois Supreme Court Clerk Cynthia Grant issued a notice Friday indicating that the court expects to file its ruling at 9 a.m. Tuesday deciding a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the state’s plan to eliminate cash bail, a key element of the criminal justice reform law known as the SAFE-T Act.

Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington ruled last year that the cashless bail provision of the SAFE-T Act was unconstitutional. The ruling was issued only days before the state was scheduled to eliminate cash bail Jan. 1.

State’s attorneys in numerous counties — including as Will, Kankakee, McHenry, DeKalb, Kendall and LaSalle — filed lawsuits to stop the cashless bail provision from taking effect. Those lawsuits eventually were consolidated Oct. 31.

On Dec. 29, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul appealed Cunnington’s ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court paused the implementation of cashless bail “in order to maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois” pending its ruling.

Among the critics of the proposal has been Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who filed a lawsuit Sept. 16 arguing that cashless bail will cripple his ability to prosecute cases, “much like the courts will be stripped of their inherent authority to manage their courtrooms.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. JB Pritzker, one of the defendants named in Glasgow’s lawsuit, called the suit 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,” Pritzker’s spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.

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