After multiple discussions with fellow prosecutors from around the State of Illinois, my office has joined those of my colleagues (both Republican and Democrat) who have filed a lawsuit in our respective counties seeking a declaratory judgment that the SAFE-T Act (lllinois Public Act 1 01 -652) be declared unconstitutional , both in substance and in the procedure in which it was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Govemor Pritzker, Speaker of the House Emanuel Chris Welch, and Senate President Donald Hannon have been named as the respondents to the lawsuit in their respective official capacities. I expect and hope that more state's attorneys across the state will file lawsuits with essentially the same arguments in short order.
Specifically, the complaint that my office has filed is a five-count complaint. After pleading the facts that detailed the process in which the SAFE-T Act was passed, Count 1 seeks a finding from the Court that the SAFE-T Act violates the Single Subject Rule. Article IV, Section 8 of the Illinois Constitution provides that ··Bills, except bill s for appropriations and for the codification, revision or rearrangement of laws, shall be confined to one subject." As a 764 page piece of legislation, the SAFE-T Act covers a minimum of fi e (5) distinct and divergent subjects ( 1 : policing and criminal law; 2: elections; 3: expanding the Partnership for Deflection and Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment Act to include first responders other than police officers; 4: granting the attorney general increased powers to pursue certain civil actions, some newly created ; and 5: expanded whistleblower protection). If successful on this count, the entire SA FE-T Act would be declared unconstitutional and thus void.
Count II seeks a finding from the court that the SAFE-T Act violates the constitutional right to bail in Article I, Section 9 of the Illinois Constitution. That constitutional guarantee provides that "all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for the following offenses where the proof is evident or the presumption great: capital offenses; offenses for which a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed as a consequence of conviction; and felony offenses for which a sentence of imprisonment, without conditional and revocable release, shall be imposed by law as a consequence of conviction, when the court, after a hearing, detemines that release of the offender would pose a real and present threat to the physical safety of any person.'·The SAFE-T Act creates new categories of offenses which can result in the denial of the right to bail for said offenders that the Illinois Constitution does not allow. Consequently, the legislature enacted and Governor Pri tzker signed into law new laws that will violate the rights of many individuals in violation of the Illinois Constitution. Furthernore, as ministers
of justice with the obligation of protecting the rights of all people, the legislature has placed state's attrneys in an ethical dilemma of being in violation of the lllinois Constitution. Essentially, to do what the Illinois General Assembly has done, they were required to ask you, the People of Illinois, to amend the Illinois Constitution through a vote.
Count III requests a finding that the SAFE-T Act violates the separation of powers located in the Illinois Constitution by unconstitutionally infringing on the authority of the judicial branch. Essentially, Article II of the Illinois Constitution prohibits separate branches from exercising powers properly belonging to another branch. ··The constitutional right to bail must be qualified by the auth01ity of the courts, as an incident of their power to manage the conduct of proceedings before
them, to deny or revoke bail when such action is appropriate to preserve the orderly process of criminal procedure.··People ex rel. Hemingway v. Elrod, 60 Ill. 2d 74, 79 ( 1975). The General Assembly may only enact legislation ·"that complement(s) the authority of the judiciary or that has only a peripheral effect on court adminstration" Kunkel v. Walton, 179 lll.2d 519, 528, 689 N.E.2d 1047, 1051 (1997)(citing People v. Williams. 1 24 Ill.2d 300 (1988)). Essentially, the Illinois General Assembly
has sought to remove an inherent tool of the court developed over centuries to manage the court process without asking the People of lllinois to consent to said removal through the appropriate constitutional process.
Count IV requests a finding that the SAFE-T Act violates the Three Readings Clause. Article IV, Section 8 provides that "a bill shall be read by title on three different days in each house." This applies to amendment that are a substantial departure from the original bill. As is clear when this legislation went from seven (7) pages affecting one statute to seven hundred sixty-four (764) pages affecting no less than two hundred sixty-five (265) separate statutes through its amendments, it clearly deviated
from the original bill. Furthermore, it was "read" multiple times in the Senate on one day (January 13, 2021) before being voted upon and was then voted upon in the House on the same day without any readings being conducted. Count V is a request for a preliminary injunction pending the conclusion of the litigation.
In March of this year, my office released a statement regarding the dangerous consequences of the substance of the SAFE-T Act's elimination of cash bail, regardless of one's thoughts of the concept of a monetary bail system, and its replacement with a system that would make it nearly impossible to detain individuals who have had a finding of probable cause as to having committed serious criminal offenses while making it more difficult for the low-level offenders to be expeditiously released that the current system allows. Myself and almost all of m y colleagues (100 of 102) still have the same serious concerns for public safety and the violation of constitutional rights that the SAFE-T Act poses, hence the filing of lawsuits. Some of my colleagues have been and will continue to attempt to negotiate with lawmakers. I do support the efforts of these colleagues and their diplomatic approach, but I am responsible to the People of White County to do what is in your best interest. Consequently, from these discussions and considering public safety, the constitutional rights of the People, the constitutional power of the People, and the overa l necessity of protecting the administration of justice, it has become clear in my conscience that this lawsuit is the appropriate vehicle at this time due to the multiple constitutional violations by the Illinois General Assembly and the SAFE-T Act.
I also want to thank the assistant state's attorneys from the offices of Will County State's Attorney Jim
Glasgow and Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe for their assistance in this matter, as well as the other state's attorneys who are continuing to work tirelessly in addressing these concerns.
Faithfully your servant,
Denton W. Aud
White County State's Attorney