On Monday, Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail. A provision of the state’s criminal justice reform law was supposed to eliminate the use of cash bail across the state on January 1, but was put on hold after prosecutors and sheriffs in 64 counties filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. In a 5-2 ruling in July, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned a ruling by a Kankakee County judge that the law ending cash bail was unconstitutional.
The bill does not limit its application to those newly charged with crimes. Defendants who are currently being held on cash bail are entitled to request a hearing to determine if they should be released. In fact, according to this story, a woman—who is alleged to have assaulted four Chicago police officers on Sunday—was released from custody on the day the cash bail was eliminated.
Keep reading for more criminal law news.
Sometimes inmates escape from custody… Less than a week after the recapture of a convicted murderer who escaped from prison in Pennsylvania and remained on the loose for two weeks, nine juveniles escaped from a Pennsylvania detention center after a riot broke out. Authorities believe the teens overpowered two guards during the riot and took their keys. All of the boys were found and taken into custody on Monday morning.
…and sometimes they are accidentally released. A manhunt has commenced for an inmate who was accidentally released from a detention center in Indianapolis last week. According to this CNN article, the inmate was mistakenly released two days after his arrest “due to a faulty records review” by staff. The two records clerks involved in his release have since been fired. Officials have been searching for the inmate since they discovered the error on September 13.
Illegal gambling in Chatham County. A Chatham County Sheriff’s Office investigation uncovered 17 businesses in violation of North Carolina gambling laws. According to this article, the violations included possession of illegal gaming equipment, promotion of illegal gambling, and cash payouts for winnings. In North Carolina, it is illegal to give cash payouts for winnings on gaming machines and for businesses to possess more than five video gaming machines. Deputies charged nine people with a total of 36 felony charges and 39 misdemeanor charges for their involvement.
Settlement for convictions based on fabricated evidence. US News reports that two men are poised to receive a hefty settlement from the state of Connecticut after spending decades in prison for murder, based partly on evidence that was later found to have been fabricated. During their murder trial in 1985, forensic scientist Henry Lee testified that there were stains consistent with blood on a towel found in the victim’s home. A judge vacated the murder convictions in 2020 after testing found the towel was free of blood. Under the settlement, which must still be approved by the Connecticut General Assembly, the two men would each receive $12.6 million.
Murdaugh signs plea agreement. Alex Murdaugh has agreed to plead guilty to 22 federal charges alleging he stole millions of dollars from clients. The charges include wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Murdaugh has already been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering his wife and son, but still remains entangled in several other state and federal cases. If he complies with the conditions of the plea bargain, the prosecutors are asking the judge that he serve the time concurrently with his two life sentences.
No special treatment for Hunter Biden. A federal judge has denied Hunter Biden’s request for his arraignment to be held virtually. Last week, Biden was indicted for possession of a gun while being addicted to a controlled substance and falsely denying his status as a drug user on the purchase paperwork. CNN reports that special counsel David Weiss argued Hunter Biden should be required to attend his arraignment in person to “promote the public’s confidence” that the president’s son is not receiving special treatment.
Welcome to the world, baby Methamphetamine Rules! For now, this is what people are saying to the newborn son of Australian journalist Kirsten Drysdale who named her baby in an attempt to test Australia’s naming restrictions. As a general rule, names that are prohibited in most states and territories across Australia include ones that are offensive, contrary to the public interest, swear words, sex acts, slurs of any kind, and official titles. According to this New York Post story, while researching for a story on “What can I legally name my baby?”, Drysdale was trying to decipher what the Registrar default names a child if the parents’ first submission is rejected. She chose a name that she was sure to be rejected, but to her surprise, the official birth certificate arrived in the mail with “Methamphetamine Rules” listed as her son’s given name.