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Devore: SAFE-T Act Violates Bill of Rights and Separation of Powers

From the police to citizens’ accused of a crime, Tom Devore continues his record of defending the interests of those in Illinois who don’t have political power

September 22, 2022 – In a press conference, GOP nominee for Attorney General Tom Devore delivered a damning legal analysis of Kwame Raoul and JB Pritzker’s SAFE-T Act. Devore warned that the ‘no-cash bail’ provision in the SAFE-T Act opens up Illinois courts to civil rights violations. He pointed out the purpose of bail, and the reason that it is guaranteed in the constitution is to protect the rights of the accused, since citizens accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in American courts. 

 

If a judge were to remove the possibility of bail indiscriminately for crimes not listed in the constitution – every civil rights attorney in the country would be filing suit against him or her.

 

Devore also demonstrated how the legislature had unlawfully violated the separation of powers in its attempt to direct the judiciary on bailable and non-bailable offenses. 

 

Kwame Raoul, as Attorney General, worked hand-in-hand with progressive lobbyists to compose and whip votes for an extreme anti-police bill that now appears to be unconstitutional on numerous counts. 

 

By contrast, Tom Devore thoughtfully and thoroughly examined the bill to ensure that the rights of Illinoisans – including citizens accused of a crime, were not being violated. 

 

In this race, the choice is clear: Kwame Raoul has pushed the agenda of the most extreme ideolouges in his party. Tom Devore has stood up for the interests of the people of Illinois. 

 

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Other Key points from the press conference: 

 

To the issue of bail: Bail merely means the ability for a citizen accused of a crime to be released from jail pending trial. So if an offense is bailable it means that citizens accused of a crime, under certain conditions must be released. If it’s non-bailable, it means the court may not be required to offer bail, and can detain the citizen until trial with no release being possible on any conditions.

 

The questions around the cash component that they are attempting to eliminate is: should a citizen accused of a crime be required to provide some type of financial security to ensure that they will actually comply with the conditions of release. If they’re let out on their own recognizance, or a promise, it means the court is satisfied that a mere promise to comply is sufficient. If cash is required, it means the court has determined on a case by case basis that some amount of financial security is needed to ensure compliance. 

 

Devore pointed out that this issue of whether or not offenses are bailable or not bailable is an issue for the judiciary – not the legislature and not the executive branch. He went on to point out the purpose of bail, and the reason that it is guaranteed in the constitution is to protect the rights of the accused, since citizens accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in American courts. If a judge were to remove the possibility of bail indiscriminately for crimes not listed in the constitution – every civil rights attorney in the country would be filing suit against him or her.

 

All people have a constitutional guarantee in the Bill of Rights… under Article 1 Section 9, it says that all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties – except (and it lists three categories of offenses) capital offenses, offenses for which life imprisonment is possible, and felony offenses for which no probation is possible. So if under the constitutional provision in the Bill of Rights, you have a citizen who is alleged to have committed one of these categories of crimes (which is very small), and the court is convinced that that person poses a threat to the safety of another person or persons, the court can then hold them without bail pending trial.  



… Additionally, the court under certain circumstances has some inherent authority to control the administration of justice. If the judge is convinced, for example, that a citizen accused of a crime is a threat to a witness or a threat to a juror the court can deny bail, even if it’s a bailable offense. So the court has some authority, regardless of whether the offense is bailable or non-bailable. That is the court’s purview.

 

The problem coming from the SAFE-T Act is that one of the many things that the  LEGISLATURE is trying to accomplish is to create numerous categories within section 6.1 of crimes that THEY say are non-bailable, and determine the conditions for which the court may or may not detain certain persons. 

 

Our legislature – in the SAFE-T Act – is trying to create these categories of new non-bailable offenses that exceed those that the constitution allows. They cannot do that. It is unlawful. It is unconstitutional. 

 

The court is set up to administer justice. The Judiciary gets to determine how that justice is administered. Bail is one of the primary components over which they have inherent authority and constitutional authority. The legislature cannot impede that. They cannot get into the middle of that. 

 

So, when Kwame Raoul – after all of the conversation around this bill over the last three weeks – suggested “we may have to take a look at that… I asked myself – and I ask the people of the state to consider: why now? After almost two years, why is Kwame Raoul just now acknowledging we may have to look at this? Kwame Raoul had an obligation to all people in this state – including citizens accused of a crime – to make sure that our legislature doesn’t unlawfully impede their rights under our system of justice. 

 

All of these categories that were created in the SAFE-T Act, beyond those enumerated in the Constitution, are clearly unconstitutional. Yet, Kwame Raoul did nothing for almost two years. He wouldn’t even talk about it. He violated his oath and duty to raise the issue that I am bringing in front of you right now. 

 

Decades ago the Illinois Supreme Court made it clear that the legislature doesn’t have any discretion to define what is and isn’t a bailable offense. This is within the purview of the courts to do under the constitution. 

 

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