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Friday, November 7, 2014

LEADS Data Exempt From Release Under FOIA

The Better Government Association (BGA) filed a FOIA request with the DuPage County Sheriff seeking records disclosing the vehicles and drivers who were the subjects of LEADS inquiries allegedly conducted by the Sheriff's teenage son.  The County denied the request, stating that it was "unable to supply any information that is responsive to your Freedom of Information request" because "LEADS is a system controlled by Illinois State Police."  

The BGA appealed the denial to the circuit court, and the County filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it could not legally comply with the FOIA request because disclosure of LEADS information was prohibited by the County's agreement with the ISP and by Illinois Administrative Code regulations. The trial court agreed with the County that the information was prohibited from release under state regulations and was, therefore, exempt under 7(1)(a) of FOIA.  The court dismissed the BGA's complaint.

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the BGA's complaint.  Better Government Ass'n v. Zaruba, 2014 IL App (2d) 140071.  The court determined that the state regulations broadly prohibit any disclosure of information relating to LEADS, including inquiries performed by LEADS users. As a result, the public is not entitled to "view or possess data that is transmitted through, received through, or stored in LEADS."  The court extended this protection to LEADS data transmitted to or searched from the Sheriff's office.  The court rejected the BGA's argument that its ruling would shield abuse of the LEADS system, finding that the state periodically audits LEADS agencies and that the BGA is not the proper organization to investigate LEADS use. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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