The suburban prosecutors taking the lead in the legal battle to topple the SAFE-T Act
When more than half of Illinois' state's attorneys go to court in Kankakee County next month in a last-ditch effort to block the controversial SAFE-T Act, the proceedings will have a distinctly suburban flavor.
The offices of McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally and Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow have been chosen to serve as lead counsel in a lawsuit they and 61 of their peers have filed seeking to have the massive criminal justice reform bill ruled unconstitutional.
"There's a lot of work to be done on this case," Kenneally told us Thursday. "It's a constitutional challenge involving a lot of intricate, thorny, difficult legal issues. If this was just handled by a law firm, there probably would be six to 15 attorneys assigned to it."
Kenneally and Glasgow will be joined on the case by prosecutors from Kankakee, Kendall, Sangamon and Vermilion counties.
On Wednesday, they filed a 35-page motion for summary judgment, asking Kankakee County Judge Thomas W. Cunningham to find the law unconstitutional and issue a restraining order preventing the state from implementing it.
Summary judgment is how courts settle cases in which there is no dispute over the facts -- those conflicts settled by a trial -- but instead there's a dispute over the law.
As with most of the debate surrounding the SAFE T Act, the suit focuses on the bill's elimination of cash bail in Illinois as of Jan. 1.
The state's attorneys argue that violates several parts of the state constitution, including the Separation of Powers Clause by stripping judges of their full authority to detain defendants, set monetary bail and revoke bail. They also argue that a portion of the Act that gives police discretion to release defendants without bail on low-level offenses unlawfully takes that authority away from the courts.
And they contend that the legislation violates both the bail provisions of the Illinois Constitution and the Crime Victim's Bill of Rights, which voters overwhelmingly approved as a constitutional amendment in 2014.
"Because both the substance of (the Act) and the process through which it was enacted are in flagrant violation of the Illinois Constitution, this statute should be stricken as void in its entirety," Wednesday's motion states.
Listed as defendants in the case are Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, House Speaker Christopher Welch and Senate President Don Harmon.
Where do we go from here?
According to a timeline laid out by the plaintiffs this week, a hearing before Judge Cunningham is set for Dec. 6, and he's expected to rule on Dec. 13. That would give the losing side a little more than two weeks to appeal before the elimination of cash bail is scheduled to become official on New Year's Day.
Aurora cop among world's best
Being one of the top young officers on the second-largest municipal police department in Illinois is quite an accomplishment. Being one of the top young officers in the world is, well, out of this world.
That's where Aurora school resource officer Skyy Calice-McDowell finds herself these days after the International Association of Chiefs of Police recently named her to its annual "40 Under 40" list recognizing rising law enforcement leaders around the globe.
According to her profile, Calice-McDowell was inspired to join the law enforcement ranks by her father, also a police officer. Shortly after being hired in Aurora in 2013, she noticed rising crime rates among young women in the area and set out to do something about it.
Her solution: Girls Run the World Aurora.
The program works with teenage girls at four high schools -- Metea Valley, East Aurora, West Aurora and Yorkville -- to support and encourage their personal and professional endeavors.
Over the 20-week program, participants are exposed to unique experiences and community resources, make mentors and friends, and learn coping, conflict resolution and leadership skills.
"We talk about home life, we talk about building leadership, we talk about career development, we talk about just working through societal issues, how to carry yourself with grace and elegance in situations where things can kind of get testy," Calice-McDowell said during a recent appearance on Fox 32 Chicago news. "We deep dive into a lot of things and we focus on their passion. If you keep them focused on their passion, they won't have time to indulge in bad behavior."
Lake picks interrupters
In June, we wrote about Lake County's plans to deploy "interrupters" in communities hard-hit by violence and gun- and gang-related crime.
Now we know who's going to head up the effort. The Lake County state's attorney's office has announced that the Waukegan-based Coalition to Reduce Recidivism and Waukegan Township will manage the new Gun Violence Prevention Initiative's interrupter program.
They'll use county funds to hire a program manager and three teams of interrupters who will work primarily in Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion.
The program will attempt to connect people at risk of committing violence with career counseling, mental health treatment, GED classes and mentors known as "violence interrupters," who will help steer them down a better path.
Also assisting will be county resident Marcus McCallister, a consultant who has helped establish similar programs across the country.
"The opportunity to work in the community that I call home to reduce gun violence is dear to my heart," McCallister said.
Kibble for K-9s
Congratulations to the Aurora Police Department's police dogs. They were one of four teams nationwide to receive a $2,500 grant from Aftermath, a crime-scene-cleanup and biohazard disposal company. People voted online from Oct. 24 to 31.
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