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Ruling in Bail Appeal Seeks Precedent

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Appellate judges who affirmed a decision made in Cook County Circuit Court to deny bail to a suspected armed robber conceded they did so absent much in the way of guidance and without complete records of court proceedings. In upholding Judge Thomas Byrne’s decision to keep Larenz Simmons behind bars as he awaits trial for a West Side stick-up last year, they said bail appeals under Rule 604(c) of the Criminal Code lack applicable standards for review. Accordingly, the three-member panel’s 12-page decision offers a critique of procedural steps that are aimed at assisting efforts underway in Springfield to amend the state’s 2017 Bail Reform Act.

Simmons, who was 19 at the time of his arrest, cited hardship to his family in seeking to overturn Byrne’s denial of bail after the victim fingered him as one of two robbers in an incident that took place in Holman Square. However, appellate judges agreed that a weapons charge and failures to appear in his juvenile record were enough to keep him in county lock-up as he awaited trial. Noting the excigencies that necessitate little more than what amounts to heresay written in motions that are the basis of bail appeals, the panel said that abuses of the discretion that judges are allowed in determining whether to grant bail should guide appellate review.