The Bar News

Illinois Supreme Court Unveils Plans for Future Statewide Pretrial System

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today a new operational structure for pretrial services which will place all pretrial services under the authority of the Supreme Court’s Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC), including employment of all pretrial officers. The AOIC will be tasked with the development and enforcement of all pretrial standards throughout Illinois in order to support the implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform Act (“SAFE-T Act”). The SAFE-T Act is scheduled to take effect in January 2023. The Judicial Branch looks forward to working with the Legislature on additional statutory changes necessary before the new operational structure takes effect.  

The Illinois Supreme Court, with assistance from the Supreme Court Pretrial Practices Implementation Task Force (Task Force), has determined that placing the operational structure for pretrial services under the supervision of the AOIC will best achieve consistent, statewide pretrial practices and ease the burden on counties facing unfunded mandates and decreased revenue with bond reform. The Court also seeks to ensure the procedures used in circuit courts throughout Illinois are fair, efficient, transparent, accountable and adequately resourced using legal and evidence-based practices. Projected costs for staffing pretrial services statewide are similar to current costs that cover staffing of pretrial services in only a fraction of Illinois counties.

“The Illinois Supreme Court supports a pretrial services system that is consistent throughout the state and provides fair and impartial treatment for all,” Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said. “There is a lot of work to be done and we look forward to achieving this goal over the next 16 months and beyond.”

In April 2020 the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices (Commission) published its report on pretrial reform after studying best practices in use around the country for two years. The Commission’s final report was approved by the Supreme Court in May 2020. Following the release of its final report the Pretrial Practices Commission was replaced by the Task Force, a multidisciplinary group comprised of representatives from all three branches of government which has been meeting regularly since July 2020.

“I would like to thank the Supreme Court for working diligently on this issue over the last several years and look forward to assisting with implementation,” said retired DeKalb County Judge Robbin Stuckert, who served as chair of both the Commission and Task Force. “It is gratifying to see Illinois continue on the path to comprehensive pretrial reform.”

It is estimated by the Task Force that pretrial staff in Illinois will complete 135,000 risk assessments/bond reports and supervise 71,000 defendants placed on pretrial supervision annually. Under the new structure there will be Risk Assessment staff, Bond Report staff, and Pretrial Supervision staff and most of the Pretrial Officers’ work will come from reminding clients of court dates and helping clients overcome obstacles to attend court dates.

Additional information including FAQs is available on the Supreme Court’s website.

Posted on August 20, 2021 by Timothy A. Slating
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Member Comments (3)

The AOIC operates in secrecy.  Unless the AOIC can become a transparent, open institution that engages its constituency, and embraces the community, it is hard to see how the AOIC can operate as an appropriate participant under the proposed new charter.

 

 

i certainly hope this does not include divorce and other family law casess.

 

Hopefully, this standardization will alleviate some of the issues in DuPage county. There, they have a rule that requires all defendants to get a DUI evaluation through probation (at a fee much higher than the private evaluators' charge).

Additionally, they are MONTHS behind, and therefore persons in need of alcohol treatment are being delayed; lawyers cannot complete cases efficiently; prosecutors will not plea bargain with the evaluation. I asked that they allow outside evaluations until the backlog was reduced and it was denied by the Chief Judge. So there is the loss of money issue too.

Finally, the evaluation also includes a background check for EVERY misdemeanor DUI, which is far more onerous and time-consuming than all of the other 101 Illinois counties. And in at least one case emails showed that the prosecutor and the evaluator worked to increase the previous level of recommended treatment ex parte, and the trial court found no misconduct in doing so. 

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