* Press release…
llinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Illinois State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove) were joined by suburban police chiefs from Cook County Monday morning to introduce new legislation that will give law enforcement the ability to override the state’s attorney’s charging decisions, as well as bring transparency and accountability to this process.
“Today’s legislation is a major step towards accountability for the Cook County State’s Attorney with law enforcement and victims of crime,” Leader Durkin said. “This legislation demands transparency in the charging process and gives law enforcement a fair avenue to participate in the criminal court system.”
House Bill 4176 will allow local law enforcement the right to override a state’s attorney’s decision not to file felony charges when law enforcement believes clear and convincing evidence exists. Currently, law enforcement has no recourse when charges are declined on a case by an assistant state’s attorney. This bill will give law enforcement the ability to protect public safety and fight for victims and victims’ families when no one else will.
A 2020 Chicago Tribune analysis found that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx “dropped all charges against 29.9% of felony defendants, a dramatic increase over her predecessor.” In one of the latest egregious cases, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office refused to file Felony charges in a deadly shootout, citing “mutual combat” because both groups were shooting at each other.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cook County is on track to see the highest carjacking numbers in 20 years, with carjackings up 43.5 percent in Cook County this year as opposed to the same time period in 2020. In another tragic case where a seven-year-old was murdered, police officials filed their own charges against the suspect when the Cook County State’s Attorney refused to do so, only to see their charges dropped.
“This proposal brings transparency and accountability to criminal charging decisions made by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office,” said State Senator John Curran. “There have been consistent complaints from law enforcement agencies within Cook County about the State’s Attorney’s charging decisions, oftentimes leaving the public with no information as to why criminal prosecutions are not being pursued while our communities are experiencing a rapid rise in violent crime.”
Leader Durkin held a meeting with over two dozen police chiefs from Cook County last week to discuss ways to empower law enforcement when the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office continues to reject charges for violent and felony cases, some of which have resulted in fatalities. Police chiefs from the villages of Riverside and Worth participated in the press conference today.
Provides that, in a criminal investigation in counties in excess of 3,000,000 involving a forcible felony where the State’s Attorney or an Assistant State’s Attorney rejects the filing of a felony charge or charges or the case is designated by the State’s Attorney or Assistant State’s Attorney as a continuing investigation: (1) a law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred may override the State’s Attorney or Assistant State’s Attorney’s rejection of the felony charge or charges or the case is designated by the State’s Attorney or Assistant State’s Attorney as a continuing investigation if the evidence supporting the charge is clear and convincing and the override is filed with the clerk of the circuit court and the State’s Attorney; and (2) the State’s Attorney or Assistant State’s Attorney may rescind the override within 7 days after the override by petitioning the Chief Judge of the Criminal Division of the circuit court. Provides for petition requirements. Provides that, if the court determines that law enforcement agency’s decision to override was based on clear and convincing evidence, the State’s Attorney must proceed with a preliminary examination or seek an indictment by grand jury within 30 days from the date he or she was taken into custody or, if he or she is not in custody, 60 days from the date he or she was arrested. Provides that the decision of the court on the law enforcement agency’s override is not appealable.
* The Question: Your thoughts on this bill?