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Thursday, September 6, 2012

PAC Orders Police to Release Records of 15 Year Old Shooting Victim

On August 14th, 2012, the PAC office of the Illinois Attorney General issued a binding opinion finding that the Illinois State Police (ISP) improperly withheld investigatory records involving the shooting death of a minor pursuant to FOIA.  The ISP cited to section 7(1)(a) of FOIA which permits a public body to withhold records when federal or state law specifically prohibits disclosure.  In support of its denial of the FOIA request, the ISP had cited multiple sections of the Juvenile Court Act (JCA) which prohibit disclosure of records regarding minors in certain situations. 

The ISP's denial was appealed to the PAC.  In finding that the ISP had violated FOIA, the PAC determined that the JCA only applied to minors who had been arrested, taken into custody, or in cases in which a juvenile court proceeding was initiated.  The minor was neither arrested nor taken into custody, and the PAC refused to extend the statutes despite the ISP’s assertion that had the minor survived, he would have been the subject of criminal charges.  The PAC did, however, allow the ISP to redact certain unique identifiers in the requested records, including the names and dates of birth of the victim's family members pursuant to various provisions of FOIA, including the protection of personal privacy and confidential sources. 

Based on the PAC's opinion, a minor who commits a crime will be afforded more privacy rights under FOIA than a minor who is the victim of a crime.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink, with assistance from Sara Smith


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