In 2020, an individual submitted a FOIA request to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) seeking certain information related to victim/witness relocations. In response, the SAO provided certain non-exempt records, but withheld other records based on several asserted FOIA exemptions, including the personal privacy exemption as well as exemptions that apply to criminal and law enforcement records. The requestor sued the SAO claiming that the SAO violated FOIA by failing to prove that the withheld records were exempt from disclosure under the asserted exemptions. The trial court ruled in favor of the SAO, finding that the SAO sufficiently demonstrated
Continue Reading Appellate Court Directs Trial Court to Review Relocated Witness Records Requested by FOIA

An Illinois appellate court recently interpreted a provision in the Pension Code regarding the timing of receipt of surviving spouse benefits. Thornley v. Board of Trustees of River Forest Police Pension Fund.A police offer retired in 2015, and then passed away three years later. His spouse applied for surviving benefits under the Pension Code. The Pension Board granted the application, but determined that the spouse was not entitled to benefits immediately because the deceased officer, had he lived, would not have been entitled to benefits until he reached age 60 (he was a deferred pensioner). The spouse sued, claiming
Continue Reading Court Interprets Pension Code Provision on Survivor Benefits

Last Friday, the Governor extended the state disaster proclamation for another 30 days. You can access the updated disaster proclamation here. That means that public bodies can continue to conduct remote or hybrid meetings so long as they (1) make a local determination that a fully in-person meeting is not practical or prudent and (2) follow all of the other remote meeting requirements of section 7(e) of the Open Meetings Act for that meeting.     Related Stories

Continue Reading Governor Extends Disaster Declaration for Another 30 Days

By: Darcy L. Proctor

Recently, in Christopher See v. Illinois Gaming Board, 2022 WL 831601, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a federal lawsuit alleging First Amendment retaliation under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Plaintiff Christopher See is a law-enforcement officer for the Illinois Gaming Board, a state agency tasked with regulating gambling in Illinois. In his capacity as a union representative, the Plaintiff began voicing concern over the Board’s promotion policies, claiming that State Police employees were given unfair advantages over Gaming Board employees.

After expressing concerns to
Continue Reading Fitness-For-Duty Exam For Public-Safety Employee Upheld By Federal Court

Two commercial property owners sued a municipality to challenge its sprinkler ordinance. The businesses claimed that the burden to comply outweighed any benefit of having an automatic sprinkler system installed. They also claimed that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it applied to commercial buildings but not residential dwellings and that the ordinance was an unconstitutional “taking” of their property. The trial court upheld the sprinkler ordinance, finding that it provided a public safety benefit that outweighed the property owners’ cost to comply. The court also rejected the owners’ equal protection argument, finding that commercial buildings and residential buildings are not
Continue Reading Court Upholds Village Ordinance Requiring Sprinklers in Commercial Buildings

We don’t see a lot of zoning cases that make their way to the Illinois Appellate Court but last week, we saw two which we will report on this week. In Wortham v. Village of Barrington Hills, 2022 IL App (1st) 210888, the Village notified a homeowner who was renting out their home as a short-term rental more than 40 times on VRBO that the short-term rental use was not allowed in the R1 district which only permits single-family uses. The homeowner ignored the notice, and continued to rent out their home. The Village sent two additional notices before sending
Continue Reading Court Upholds Village’s Finding that Short-Term Rental Use Violated Zoning Code

Senate Bill 2553 will be of interest to units of local government in Illinois with elected officials. The bill is called the Local Official Vacancy Posting Act, and has been approved by the Illinois Senate and is currently in the Illinois Houe. If approved by the House and signed by the Governor, it would require a unit of local government to post every elected official vacancy on its website, if the website is maintained by full-time staff of the government. That notice would have to remain on the website until the vacancy is filled. The bill also requires local governments
Continue Reading Bill Would Require Posting of Notice of Elected Official Vacancies

The Public Access Counselor of the Attorney General’s office (PAC) issued its fourth binding opinion of 2022 finding a public body in violation of FOIA when it redacted an email from a retiring police chief. PAC 22-004.

A news reporter submitted a FOIA request to a police department asking for a copy of an email that a police chief sent to all Village employees on his last day of employment. The Village initially denied the request in its entirety but later that day amended its response and disclosed a redacted copy of the email, citing section 7(1)(c) (invasion of personal
Continue Reading PAC Finds Public Body in Violation of FOIA For Redacting "Goodbye Email"

By: Jim Hess

Last week, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit that was filed against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) continuing a history of decisions with respect to moving trains presenting an “open and obvious danger.”

In Pryor v. Chicago Transit Authority, 2022 IL App (1st) 200895, a plaintiff alleged that a train operator “negligently and willfully and wantonly operated the train” that struck and killed her son when he walked from the platform onto the tracks as the train was approaching. The lawsuit also claimed that the driver failed to reduce the speed
Continue Reading Appellate Court Upholds Application of “Open and Obvious” Danger With Dismissal of Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the CTA

Today, Governor Pritzker extended the State’s COVID-19 Disaster Declaration over all counties in Illinois for another 30 days. The Governor also issued EO 2022-07 extending a number of previously issued Executive Orders through April 2, 2022, including the EOs relating to cannabis licenses, Phase 5 reopening plan, EO 2022-06 which relaxed the mask mandate in most places, EO 2021-22 imposing vaccination and testing requirements for certain health care workers (as amended by EO 2021-23, 2021-27, and EO 2022-05) and EO 2021-28 imposing vaccination and testing requirements for day cares, among many others. The
Continue Reading BREAKING: Governor Extends Disaster Declaration Another 30 Days

A new Ancel Glink’s Quorum Forum Podcast episode has been released: Quorum Forum 62: Sunshine Laws for Springtime Spring is almost here, so we’re celebrating increasing sunshine and sunshine laws with Ancel Glink attorneys. In this episode, we review important Freedom of Information Act and Open Meeting Act decisions that local government should know.      Related Stories

Continue Reading A New Quorum Forum Podcast Episode Released: Sunshine Laws for Springtime

Spring is almost here, so we’re celebrating increasing sunshine and sunshine laws with Ancel Glink’s Steve Mahrt and Eugene Bolotnikov! We review important Freedom of Information Act and Open Meeting Act decision that local government should know. Email your FOIA and OMA questions to! — Resources — Summary of 2020 PAC Binding Opinions Summary of 2021 PAC Binding Opinions (FOIA) Summary of 2021 PAC Binding Opinions (OMA) Court Rules in Favor of Public Bodies in FOIA Case Involving Security Video Footage Appellate Court Reverses Order Requiring Release of Records Subject to Protective Order
Continue Reading 62: Sunshine Laws: Recent FOIA and OMA Decisions

There have been a lot of questions recently about the relaxation of certain COVID mitigation measures (such as the mask mandate) and how these changes might affect public bodies in conducting future meetings under the Open Meetings Act. As of today, we don’t know whether the Governor will extend his current disaster declaration that was issued on February 4th and is set to expire later this week so we are providing two potential scenarios.

If the Governor does issue another disaster declaration this week, then public bodies can choose to conduct their meetings remotely or in a “hybrid” fashion subject
Continue Reading The Open Meetings Act, Remote Meetings, and COVID Measures

In 2019, two individuals submitted FOIA requests to the Illinois State Police (ISP) seeking copies of their own applications for a firearm owners’ identification (FOID) card and ISP’s FOID card denial letters. ISP denied both FOIA requests, on the basis that the applications and denial letters are expressly exempt from disclosure under FOIA exemption 7.5(v), which exempts the following: Names and information of people who have applied for or received Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards under the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act or applied for or received a concealed carry license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, unless otherwise authorized by the
Continue Reading FOID Card Holders Can Obtain Own FOID Card Application and Records

By: Courtney Willits

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) recently issued PAC Opinion 22-003 where they found a City Council in violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) for its remote meeting practices. An individual filed a request for review with the PAC claiming that the Sumner City Council provided inadequate notice when they held a remote meeting in January 2022. She claimed that the City posted an agenda of the meeting at City Hall, which stated it would be held via Zoom, but it did not include the access link or information on how to attend the
Continue Reading Better Take Note…Proper Notice is Required for Hybrid Meetings

An Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of a public body in a lawsuit claiming the public body violated the Open Meetings Act and FOIA relating to a closed session. Pal v. City of Elmhurst, 2022 IL App (2d) 210048-U.On June 15, 2020, a City Council went into closed session to discuss the pending retirement of a City director and whether to fill the soon-to-be vacant position. After that meeting, the City mistakenly posted the closed session minutes from that meeting on the City’s website, and plaintiff was able to download those minutes. The plaintiff then filed a request for
Continue Reading Court Finds FOIA and OMA Lawsuit Challenging Closed Session Was Properly Dismissed