A flurry of filings as SAFE-T Act fight heads to state Supreme Court

  • Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed his final written defense of the state's plan to eliminate cash bail on Monday, setting up March 14 oral arguments with opponents in front of the state Supreme Court.

    Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed his final written defense of the state's plan to eliminate cash bail on Monday, setting up March 14 oral arguments with opponents in front of the state Supreme Court. Courtesy of Capitol News Illinois

  • Authorities say a worker at the Oakbrook Center Macy's store falsified time cards to the tune of nearly $8,000.

      Authorities say a worker at the Oakbrook Center Macy's store falsified time cards to the tune of nearly $8,000. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

Posted3/3/2023 5:00 AM

After a flurry of legal filings this week, the opposing sides in the fight over the elimination of cash bail in Illinois are now less than two weeks away from a SAFE-T Act showdown before the state Supreme Court.

The high court announced this week it would hear oral arguments March 14 in the case of James Rowe and Michael Downey v. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, House Speaker Emanuel Christopher Welch and Senate President Don Harmon.


Rowe and Downey, the Kankakee County state's attorney and sheriff, are the named plaintiffs among a group of prosecutors and law enforcement officials statewide suing to block the elimination of cash bail, which is at the heart of the 2021 criminal justice reform bill dubbed the SAFE-T Act.

In December, Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that ending cash bail would be an unconstitutional infringement on the powers of the judiciary and violate the state's Victim Rights Act.

The decision led the state to postpone the planned Jan. 1 elimination of cash bail until after the Supreme Court decides an appeal of Cunnington's decision.

This week, parties on both sides of the battle got in their final written pitches to the high court.

Among those weighing in was Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7, which called the SAFE-T Act "a recipe for increases in crime, recidivism, dysfunction in the criminal prosecution system, and danger to police officers and the communities they serve."

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"Removing the discretion from our judiciary to determine appropriate conditions, including monetary bail, upon the pretrial release of those accused of crime will only exacerbate the level of fear the residents of our community face as well as the danger our members must confront," the union's brief states.

On the other side, Raoul filed the state's final written arguments Monday, labeling the plaintiffs' case a "grab-bag of constitutional theories (that) should be rejected."

Raoul's 33-page brief takes aim at Cunnington's decision in particular, saying it follows neither state history nor legal precedent. Neither the Illinois Constitution nor the Victims Rights Act require a system of monetary bail, Raoul argues.

"Those unprecedented holdings (by Cunnington) are incorrect, and would effectively bar the General Assembly from ever reforming pretrial procedures in the state," the brief states.


Tune in

Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, the state's high court isn't camera shy. You can tune in at 9 a.m. March 14 to watch the court take on this case via livestream at livestream.com/blueroomstream/events/10782499.

Time bandit?

Fudging your timecard a minute here or there may not land you behind bars, but DuPage County authorities say a West suburban woman did it to the tune of nearly $8,000 in unearned pay between Aug. 11, 2022, and Feb. 20.

Nina P. John, 30, of the 600 block of South Cass Avenue in Westmont, faces a felony theft charge alleging she received about $7,918 for work she didn't do at the Oakbrook Center Macy's store, authorities say.

According to an Oak Brook police report, John entered incorrect times on her timecard on about 100 occasions. The report says John either entered extra hours -- as many as seven per shift -- or left work early but indicated that she left on time.

In all, she was paid for 287.5 hours of overtime and 22.5 hours of regular time that she did not work, according to the report.

A store detective reviewing time sheets discovered the discrepancies. The store then checked surveillance videos to see when John was working.

According to the report, John told police she was trying to make up for losing a second job.

John is free on a personal recognizance bond while she awaits trial, according to DuPage County court records.

Batavia cop honored

Batavia police Officer Mike Walters was named the Kane County Officer of the Year last week by the Kane County Chiefs of Police Association for how he handled a desperate man.

Mike Walters, Batavia police officer
Mike Walters, Batavia police officer

According to the nomination by his chief, Walters was the first officer to respond to a domestic-violence call Jan. 26, 2022, where a woman said her boyfriend had choked her.

When Walters arrived, the boyfriend was holding the couple's 3-month-old child. He refused to hand the baby over to the mother, threatened to harm the infant and said several times that he was going to make police shoot him.

Walters, recognizing the man was having a mental health crisis, stood close enough to the man to rescue the baby if needed, but far enough away so as to not escalate the man's agitation, the nomination said. He got the man to speak to a counselor over the phone and, after more than an hour, the man agreed to hand the baby over to a relative.

"Officer Walters displayed great restraint, patience and compassion during this incident," the association said in an announcement of the award. "If it were not for the actions and determination of Officer Walters, the outcome might have had grave consequences."

Opioid money arriving

DuPage County has received $1.22 million as the first installment of its share of the Johnson & Johnson opioid lawsuit settlement money.

Overall, settlements from that lawsuit and others are expected to net the county $10.5 million. It must be used for addressing opioid abuse, such as medication-assisted treatment, prevention programs, support for individuals in treatment and recovery, and training for health care professionals.

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