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Monday, March 15, 2021

Court Rules in Public Body's Favor in FOIA Case Brought by Inmate

In 2015, an inmate filed two substantially identical FOIA requests with the Chicago Police Department asking the CPD to release records regarding the murder of an individual for which the inmate was prosecuted and convicted. After CPD initially failed to respond to both requests, the inmate sued CPD alleging that CPD had violated FOIA by failing to respond to his requests. After the trial court conducted an in camera inspection of the records produced to the plaintiff and confirmed that CPD conducted a reasonably diligent search for responsive records, the court ruled in CPD’s favor, finding that the inmate’s lawsuit was "moot" because CPD had already produced all non-exempt public records responsive to the inmate’s requests. The inmate appealed.

In Love v. City of Chicago, the First District Appellate Court also ruled in favor of the CPD. First, the appellate court rejected the inmate’s contention that CPD failed to produced certain records, finding no evidence that the CPD’s search was inadequate. Second, the court rejected the inmate's argument that CPD violated FOIA by not producing an index for certain records, finding that public bodies are not obligated to produce an index in response to a FOIA request outside of a court order which did not exist in this case. Finally, the court also rejected the inmate’s request to conduct his own "in camera" inspection of CPD’s records, noting that FOIA only allows a court to conduct in camera inspection of records when appropriate to determine whether records may be withheld under applicable FOIA provisions. 

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink


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