in 2017 and 2018, a FOIA requestor submitted seven FOIA requests to three different public bodies. After the public bodies denied each request based on applicable FOIA exemptions, the requestor appealed each denial to the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC). The PAC notified the requestor that no further action would be taken in response to his appeals. The requestor then filed a lawsuit against the PAC, alleging it violated FOIA by refusing to perform “a clear ministerial duty” by denying his requests for review.  

The trial court ruled in favor of the PAC and dismissed the requester’s lawsuit holding that it lacked jurisdiction to review the PAC’s decision because the PAC did not issue a binding opinion in response to any of the requester’s appeals. The requester appealed.

In Shehadeh v. Raoul, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the requestor’s complaint. The appellate court ruled that a courts cannot review a PAC decision to notissue a binding opinion, because a PAC decision to resolve a request for review by issuing an advisory rather than a binding opinion is entirely discretionary and, therefore, not subject to review by the courts.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink