In 2022, an inmate sent a letter to the mayor of Taylorville, IL complaining about the City attorney and other matters. The letter also included a FOIA request for a copy of the letter. The City’s FOIA officer denied the inmate’s FOIA request. The inmate filed a complaint under FOIA arguing that when the mayor received his letter it became a public record as defined by the FOIA and that there was no legal basis for denying his request for a copy of the letter. The City filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted by the circuit court. The inmate appealed the decision.

The Appellate Court in Shehadeh v. City of Taylorville held that the inmate’s letter was not a public record because it did not “pertain to public business” within the meaning of FOIA since the complaints concerning the conduct of counsel in the inmate’s own litigation against the City did not involve community interests as opposed to private affairs.

The Appellate Court also considered whether the letter addressed to and received by the mayor was received by or under the possession or control of a “public body.” After analyzing FOIA’s definition of a “public body” and prior Illinois cases concluding that an alderperson was not a “public body” under FOIA, the Appellate Court concluded that a mayor is not a “public body” under FOIA.

Please keep this in mind when reviewing FOIA requests.

For more information about this article, please contact Tressler attorney Jey Claudio at