Bross wants motion questioning local interpretation of Pretrial Fairness Act to be ‘heard and addressed’

Kevin Bross

Public Defender Kevin Bross speaks during a status hearing Thursday morning in Adams County Circuit Court. | David Adam

QUINCY — Bills of indictment were filed Thursday against two men lodged in the Adams County Jail, but the debate continues over how the Pretrial Fairness Act, also known as the Safe-T Act, is being interpreted in Adams County.

The arraignments of Kareun Brewer, 21, of Springfield and Latwaon McCray, 42, of Quincy were delayed when Public Defender Kevin Bross filed an “objection to arraignment” motion on May 21. A status hearing was held Thursday morning in Adams County Circuit Court before Circuit Judge Tad Brenner.

Bross told Brenner last week his motion was a challenge to the application of the Pretrial Fairness Act. He believes the constitutional rights of Brewer and McCray have been violated. Both men were denied pretrial release by Brenner and Judge Zach Boren.

Bross noted in his motion that the Illinois Constitution states, “No person shall be held to answer for a crime punishable by death or by imprisonment in the penitentiary unless either the initial charge has been brought by indictment of a grand jury or the person has been given a prompt preliminary hearing to establish probable cause.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Keck opened Thursday’s hearing by asking that the hearing on Bross’ motion be continued because the cases against Brewer and McCray were scheduled to go before a grand jury Thursday morning. 

“I think the issues will likely be moot in the next couple of hours,” Keck said.

Bross did not object to Keck’s motion for a buccal swab to have a DNA test completed in McCray’s case. Brenner asked if convening the grand jury made Bross’ objection “moot.” Bross replied that it would depend on several factors outside his control.

“The state indicated last Tuesday when this (hearing) was set for today that they would be prepared to argue this motion today,” Bross said. “They indicated they would be filing a responsive pleading with the court. Obviously, that hasn’t happened at this point. I will certainly object to any continuance as these individuals are lodged, and there are still timing issues that matter.”

Admitting grand jury indictments would make his motion “moot,” Bross said he believes the previous nine days should be attributed to the state and not his clients’ speedy trial rights. As he made his point, Brenner interrupted him.

Circuit Judge Tad Brenner listens during Thursday’s status hearing in Adams County Circuit Court. | David Adam

“Mr. Bross, we’re well within the speedy trial timeframe right now. It’s an issue that’s premature, isn’t it?” Brenner asked.

“Maybe,” Bross replied, “but I want to make sure my objection is noted now.”

“It is noted,” Brenner interjected.

“Because at some point, it may become relevant,” Bross said.

“You’re making an argument for another day today,” Brenner said.

“I’m making a record today,” Bross said.

“You made your record,” Brenner said.

Bross repeated he wanted to be heard on the motion because it is “relevant and necessary.”

“We continue to have this issue come up in case after case in which detention is sought by the state,” he said.

Bross said he filed objection to arraignment motions on May 28 and May 29 in two other cases — a domestic battery case against Patrick Lewis and a residential burglary case against Roxann Hasting.

The grand jury that was convened Thursday returned bills of indictment in the cases against Lewis, Hasting, Brewer and McCray.

Bross, however, appears ready to continue filing motions when a court finds probable cause to deny pretrial release without a grand jury indictment or a preliminary hearing.

“We continue to have this issue here in Adams County,” he said. “I think it needs to be heard and addressed so that we don’t have the same problem. … When I file an objection, the state agrees to send (the case) to the grand jury at that point. It seems like it’s not the most efficient use of the judicial resources available.”

Brenner granted the continuance Keck requested. Another status hearing is set for Tuesday, June 4.

Brewer faces charges of an Illinois Department of Corrections parole violation as well as charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated discharge of a firearm and home invasion.

McCray, who was arrested May 13, is charged with being an armed habitual criminal, manufacturing or delivering between 100 and 400 grams of heroin (both Class X felonies) and felony possession or use of a weapon or firearm (a Class 3 felony). 

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