Someone carjacked the daughter-in-law of a friend of our family while her 9-month-old was in the car. Fortunately, the mother and child were unharmed.
The alleged criminal was out on a recognizance bond for another car theft and failed to appear. This time, he is being held without bond.
Anecdotes are bad arguments and logical fallacies but can be helpfully illustrative of a problem.
Carjackings Are Easier Than Auto Thefts
It should not come as a surprise that a car thief will steal cars. As it has gotten more difficult to steal cars, it has become necessary for thieves to steal them with people in them, as the market for stolen vehicles has not decreased.
That is what makes the theft of Kias and Hyundais so notable and demonstrates that the lawsuits against them by municipalities like the city of Chicago are so inane. The difficulty in stealing cars has led to increased carjackings, which is a far greater crime than mere car theft. Kia and Hyundai have done us a favor, though not insurers, by making their cars easy to steal.
But this case also illustrates a problem with the SAFE-T Act. The alleged carjacker in this case was out on bond for another car theft in March. It turns out that car thieves like to steal cars, which might escalate to the kind of violent crime alleged in the carjacking of my friend’s daughter-in-law and her 9-month-old child.
Why an Increase in Remote Hearings for No Cash Bail
This brings us to the below order from the Illinois Supreme Court regarding the need for remote proceedings in SAFE-T Act bond hearings, starting with the statute’s effective date on September 18, 2023, following the court’s opinion in Rowe v. Raoul.
During the debate on the SAFE-T Act, they reliably informed me it would not lead to the mass release of alleged criminals currently being held in pre-trial detention. If that were true, one has to wonder why the court states the following in allowing these bond hearings pursuant to the SAFE-T Act to proceed remotely when the statute, with exceptions, requires them to proceed in person:
“Due to the anticipated volume of investigations and hearings on pre-trial detention or conditions of pre-trial release beginning September 18, 2023, and the current limited resources of circuit courts, state’s attorneys, public defenders, and other justice partners, statewide compliance with the SAFE-T Act will only be possible with the use of two-way audio-visual communication systems.”
There are a number of currents here that flow together that demonstrate a wholesale failure of the criminal justice system. I suspect the situation will only get worse.
Donald “Pat” Eckler is a partner at Freeman, Mathis, & Gary LLP, focusing on professional liability defense, insurance coverage litigation, and general tort defense. He is the secretary/treasurer of Illinois Defense Counsel. Eckler also co-hosts the Podium and Panel podcast with Daniel Cotter. His views are his own and not those of his firm or its clients.