An inmate submitted a FOIA request to the Cook County
State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) seeking records related to a criminal case
involving the inmate’s co-defendant in a criminal matter. The SAO denied the
request citing FOIA exemption 7(1)(d)(i), arguing that because the
requestor had an active post-conviction petition pending, the requested records
were exempt from disclosure because disclosing the records would interfere with
those proceedings. The requestor sued claiming the SAO improperly
denied his FOIA request by asserting a blanket exemption over the records, and the
circuit court ruled in favor of the SAO.

On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed the circuit court’s ruling and concluded
that FOIA exemption 7(1)(d)(i) does not authorize a public body to claim a
blanket exemption over an entire investigatory file, especially where, as here,
potentially all of the information had already been publicly disclosed. Makiel
v. Foxx
. Instead, the SAO was required to, but failed to, provide
sufficiently detailed information or documents demonstrating that disclosing
any of the requested records would have interfered with a pending law
enforcement proceeding.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink