Lawsuit Against Sheriff Dart Continues
This past winter, CCBF worked with Thedford Garber Law to file a class action lawsuit against Sheriff Dart’s practice of unconstitutionally denying people release on Electronic Monitoring (EM). In February 2018, Dart announced the implementation of unilateral reviews for people whose bond conditions he found unsatisfactory in interviews with the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. Under that practice, Sheriff’s Office employees detained individuals in Cook County Jail even after their bonds had been paid or they were otherwise eligible for release in order to conduct their own additional discretionary “reviews” of the presumed innocent people’s current charges and backgrounds. CCBF discovered the impact of this practice just a few days after it was announced when we paid bond for Taphia Williams. After we paid her money bond, Ms. Williams was not released on Electronic Monitoring as ordered by the court and instead remained in Cook County Jail until after this lawsuit was filed on her behalf. Ms. Williams has since been released onto EM and is currently fighting her case.
Yesterday, federal district court judge Harry Leinenweber ruled on Sheriff Dart’s motion to dismiss Ms. Williams’ lawsuit against him. Judge Leinenweber technically granted the motion in part and denied it in part, however, he ultimately found that the Plaintiffs have viable procedural and substantive due process claims that can proceed against the Sheriff for detaining individuals after they have been cleared for release by a judge. The ruling clearly states that if Sheriff Dart disagrees with a court order, he cannot simply deny a person release from the jail without implicating the constitutional rights of the individual.
This is a huge victory! Thedford Garber will be amending the lawsuit to add additional claims and additional plaintiffs and continuing this fight. Recent records obtained via FOIA show that as many as 80 individuals may have been impacted by this unconstitutional practice. CCBF will continue to support Thedford Garber Law and the Plaintiffs in this important fight! Let’s celebrate this important decision and continue to push for an end to pretrial incarceration!
Join us outside Thompson Center this Tuesday, September 18th at 10am for the Rally To #EndMoneyBail!