Kankakee Court hears arguments in SAFE-T Act lawsuit


KANKAKEE COUNTY, Ill. — A crucial test for the SAFE-T Act began taking place today in Kankakee County Circuit Court.

Circuit court judge Thomas Cunnington heard oral arguments Tuesday over claims brought in 64 different lawsuits that have been consolidated into one.

The plaintiffs — prosecutors and sheriffs from across Illinois —allege the landmark legislation violates the separation of powers and improperly amends the state constitution.

“We seek an order from your honor declaring the law unconstitutional,” said Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe.

Prosecutors and sheriffs also argued that when the Democrat-controlled state legislature passed the law in 2021, they did not follow rules requiring bills to be read on three different days.

“I would implore this court do not co-sign the fraud committed by the Senate President [Don] Harmon and Speaker [Emanuel Chris] Welch in affirming three readings over three days when your honor knows, and the record clearly shows, that did not occur,” Rowe said.

The defendants — Governor JB Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, House Speaker Emmanuel Chris Welch and Senate President Don Harmon — counter the sweeping criminal justice reform overall is legal and lawmakers have followed the Illinois state constitution.

“This is clearly a policy issue at its core. It’s a policy disagreement brought by states attorneys and sheriffs who disagree with the policy the people have enacted through legislators,” said attorney for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Darren Kinkead. “If they have standing in this case, then that means they will have standing in every case in which the legislature makes some sort of change to criminal law or criminal procedure.”

Judge Cunnington is expected to make a ruling by next Wednesday, Dec. 28.

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