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Friday, February 8, 2019

Release of Complaint Registry Under FOIA Renders Appeal Moot

In Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Chicago and Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Police Department (CPD), notified the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) that, in respond to FOIA request by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times,  it intended to release lists of complaint registry (known as CR) files against all CPD officers since January 1, 1967. The FOP then filed a motion for preliminary injunction and a complaint asking a court to enjoin the release of the registry files on the basis that release of the records would violate Section 8 of the Illinois Personnel Records Review Act, which prohibits release of personnel records or disciplinary action over 4 years old.  The FOP also argued that release would violate the collective bargaining agreement, the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, and Section 6 of the Personnel Records Review Act.

The trial court ruled in the FOPs favor, barring the release of the registry files. That ruling was appealed by defendants. The Appellate Court vacated the trial court orders barring release of the CR records, finding that Section 8 of the Personnel Records Review Act did not categorically exempt CR files from disclosure under FOIA because they did not relate to disciplinary or personnel files.  The Court also found that the collective bargaining agreement’s provisions regarding destruction of files was against public policy and unenforceable.  After the Court’s decision, CPD released the CR files pursuant to the original FOIA requests.

The proceedings continued as the trial court addressed the amended complaint, ultimately dismissing the amended complaint because the Appellate Court previously found that no FOIA exemptions applied to the registry files.  On appeal to the Appellate Court, the case was dismissed as moot, as the documents had already been released under FOIA.

Post Authored by Erin Pell, Ancel Glink


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