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

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

PAC Issues Binding Opinion on FOIA and Police Report Involving Juvenile Victim

The PAC issued its eighth binding opinion for 2020 finding a public body in violation of FOIA for withholding a police report involving a juvenile victim in PAC Op. 2020-08

In September, an attorney submitted a FOIA request to a Sheriff’s Office seeking a police report involving the alleged sexual assault of a minor. The attorney submitted the FOIA request on behalf of his client (the minor’s father) for a civil matter. The Sheriff’s Office denied the request citing FOIA section 7(1)(a), claiming the report was specifically prohibited from disclosure by the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (JCA). After the attorney submitted an appeal with the PAC office of the Attorney General contesting the denial, the PAC issued a binding opinion finding that the Sheriff’s Office violated FOIA by improperly withholding the responsive report. 

The PAC rejected the Sheriff’s Office conclusory assertion that reports involving minors are entirely exempt from disclosure. The PAC noted that the Sheriff's Office's denial lacked the detailed factual and legal basis necessary to withhold the report under FOIA section 7(1)(a). In addition, the report concerned an alleged crime committed by an adult against a minor so it did not qualify as a “juvenile law enforcement record” as defined in the JCA because the report did not relate to a juvenile committing or suspected of committing an offense. Since the JCA does not prohibit disclosing police reports regarding a minor who is an alleged victim (unless the suspect or perpetrator is also a juvenile), the PAC concluded that the report was improperly withheld from disclosure. 

The Sheriff's Office did not raise a privacy exemption for the records pertaining to a juvenile victim, maybe because the attorney for the minor's father was the requester. However, public bodies might want to keep that exemption in mind (i.e., section 7(1)(c) of FOIA) when they receive a FOIA request asking for records pertaining to a juvenile victim.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink


Post a Comment