Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Friday, January 11, 2019

FOIA Case Finds City Did Not Violate FOIA

In Turner v Joliet Police Department, 2019 IL App (3d) 170819 the court found that the city did not violate FOIA by exempting police reports concerning the requestor based on Illinois Supreme Court Rule 415 (c).  Rule 415 (c) governs discovery in certain criminal cases.  “Any materials furnished to an attorney pursuant to these rules shall remain in his exclusive custody and be used only for the purposes of conducting his side of the case, and shall be subject to such other terms and conditions as the court may provide.”  Notes to the rule state: “If the materials to be provided were to become, in effect, matters of public availability once they had been turned over to counsel for the limited purposes which pretrial disclosures are designed to serve, the administration of criminal justice would likely be prejudiced. Accordingly, this paragraph establishes a mandatory requirement in every case that the material which an attorney receives shall remain in his exclusive custody.  While he will undoubtedly have to show it to, or at least discuss it with others, he is not permitted to furnish them with copies or let them take it from his office.”

Joliet relied on this rule and FOIA section 7(1)(a) to deny the requested police report to Mr. Turner, who was the subject of a pending criminal prosecution. The court upheld Joliet’s action, along with other exemptions claimed by Joliet. In doing so the court distinguished 2013 Ill. Att’y Gen. Pub. Access Op. No. 13-017 which held that a party’s right to discovery does not constitute a FOIA exemption and does not preclude an FOIA request. The 2013 Public Access Opinion involved civil litigation not criminal prosecution.

Rule 415 applies where the accused is charged with a felony. Public police agencies should consult their attorneys to determine whether Rule 415 and FOIA section 7(1)(a) may be used to exempt police reports when requested by a criminally accused requestor.

Post Authored by Steve Mahrt, Ancel Glink


Post a Comment