Why Will No Cash Bail Need Remote Hearings

Safe-t Act Remote Hearings

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.

By Donald P. Eckler

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.


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Brian Armstrong Journalist
Brian Armstrong grew up in a small farm town in rural Indiana and learned to shoot before he learned to drive. His career began in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where he worked as a firefighter and a medic before moving to Chicago. Throughout the years, he has owned multiple businesses, from construction to technology. He is back to his emergency services roots -teaching emergency first aid and firearms courses, along with writing for numerous publications. He believes the best way to learn "HOW" to do something is first to answer "WHY" you do something. He is your average guy with views like yours. Now, he's sharing the knowledge he's gained from teaching, learning from others, and researching topics you don't have time to explore. His feeling about staying safe is "The best way to win a fight is not to get into a fight!" He is always looking for new ideas. If you have a topic, current news you would like covered, or a publication looking for content, please reach out and let him know. You can follow him @LetsTalkDGU and #LetsTalkDGU


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