Court Strikes Down Governor Pritzker's Executive Order in Sheriffs' Suit

A Sangamon County Judge has entered a Temporary Restraining Order against Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services in litigation filed by Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell and 5 other Illinois Sheriffs. The suit was filed over extended delays in transfer of mentally-ill inmates from county jails for admission into DHS facilities to receive psychiatric treatment for restoration to fitness to stand trial.

Sangamon County State's Attorney Dan Wright represented Sheriff Campbell and requested the temporary restraining order against Governor Pritzker's Executive Order 22-15. Granting Wright's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Associate Judge Karen Tharp found:

"[T]he Governor exceeded the authority given to him under [the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act] when he issued [Executive Order 22-15]. … "[The Governor and DHS Secretary] state there remains the issue of bed availability and a staffing shortage… [and] that [the Sheriffs] are trying to shift the responsibility for the care of unfit criminal defendants onto the State. [The Sheriffs] are not shifting the responsibility… The legislature did that by its enactment of [the applicable statute requiring DHS to admit and treat inmates found unfit to stand trial]. The court is mindful that there is a staffing shortage at DHS facilities but a lack of staff or a lack of bed space does not mean that they can ignore their responsibilities under the law. They cannot foist that responsibility onto someone else, and ultimately let unfit inmates and crime victims pay the price."

The Illinois Attorney General's Office said it intends to file an appeal of the decision on behalf of the Governor and DHS. The appeal would be heard by the Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield and a ruling would be anticipated within weeks.