Local Government Lowdown

Get insights and analysis on all the latest Illinois government legal news from Tressler’s local attorneys.

Sometimes Freedom of Information Act requests are vague and so government entities are left seeking clarification from the requester. The best practice for government agencies is a follow-up discussion with a requester, resulting in simplification and narrowing of the request which can lead to a requester getting what they want and fewer government resources spent getting them the information. However, sometimes the quest for clarification can be taken by a requester to be gamesmanship, whether actually intended or not.

In Edgar County Watchdogs v. Joliet Township, 2023 IL App (3d) 210520 (February 23, 2023), the plaintiff submitted a Freedom
Continue Reading Illinois Appellate Court Denied FOIA Attorneys Fees and Civil Penalties Due to “Clarification” Process

We are proud to announce that Tressler local government attorneys John M. O’Driscoll and Darcy L. Proctor have been selected as 2023 Illinois Super Lawyers. Learn more about these accomplished attorneys below. Congratulations to both!

John M. O’DriscollPartner

John is a partner and Co-Chair of Tressler’s Government Practice Group. His practice includes representing companies and individuals in business disagreements and providing general counsel services to local governmental bodies such as municipalities, school districts and park districts. John handles a wide variety of disputes such as business litigation, breaches of contract, construction issues, employment disputes, property damage, tort liability defense,
Continue Reading John O’Driscoll and Darcy Proctor Recognized as 2023 Illinois Super Lawyers

As Election Day creeps closer and candidate signs litter the landscape, a brief reminder regarding legal restrictions on political signage is appropriate:

Electioneering outside the 100-foot campaign-free zone is permitted

“Electioneering” is conduct that urges a vote for or against a party, candidate, or issue or engaging in political discussion within 100 feet of a polling place. 10 ILCS 5/7-41(c), 5/17-29.  Electioneering may take the form of either verbal communication or non-verbal communication – displaying signs, wearing campaign buttons, or distributing campaign literature.

Sections 7-41 and 17-29 identify that the 100-foot zone runs from each entrance to the voting room itself,
Continue Reading Election Season, Electioneering and Campaign Sign Reminders

On August 9, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Public Act 101-0221, also known as the Workplace Transparency Act, creating new protections for employees and contractors and rules for employers regarding sexual harassment. Most public entities are aware that the Act requires all employers in Illinois to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. However, a reminder is necessary that it also requires that public entities report all adverse judgments and administrative rulings against it from the preceding calendar year to the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Adverse judgments and administrative rulings are any final and non-appealable judgments issued
Continue Reading Workplace Transparency Act Reporting Mandate for Illinois Employers

In Moran v. Calumet City, 2022 WL 17173891, (7th Cir. 2022), the court provided further insight as to whether fabricated evidence influenced a jury’s guilty verdict. There, a jury convicted Moran of attempted murder with a firearm but was later acquitted when exculpatory evidence, including a ballistics report linking the firearm to a different shooter, had not been turned over to the defense before trial. Moran filed suit seeking redress for a decade spent behind bars alleging that two detectives fabricated a police report and gave false testimony during his trial that led to his criminal conviction.

Under Seventh Circuit
Continue Reading What’s Material in a Fabrication of Evidence Claim?

In Ziccarelli v. Dart, 35 F. 4th 1079 (7th Cir. 2022), the Court of Appeals held that employers may violate the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) by simply discouraging employees from exercising their rights under the FMLA without actually denying a leave request. On October 12, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision leaving the 7th Circuit ruling intact.

The Ziccarelli case involved FMLA claims brought by a corrections officer who had developed several serious health conditions over his long career with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Due to these conditions, the employee had taken intermittent
Continue Reading Denial of FMLA Benefits is Not Required to Prove FMLA Interference Claim

A recent ruling of the Illinois First District Appellate Court affirmed the Melrose Park Board of Fire and Police Commissioners’ decision to fire a Melrose Park Police Officer following a string of alleged misconduct.

In Scatchell v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners for the Village of Melrose Park et al, (2022 Ill App (1st) 201361 a (now former) Melrose Park police officer, John Scatchell, brought a suit contesting his firing. In late 2017, Scatchell took paid leave to recover from an injury he suffered while on duty. During his leave, the police department learned that Scatchell was allegedly out
Continue Reading Appellate Court Upholds Firing of Police Officer Following Issuance of Garrity Warning

Transgender legal issues can be tricky for local government bodies. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled for a Muslim inmate who claimed that his religious rights were violated by strip searches conducted by a transgender prison guard. West v. Radtke, 20-1570 (Sept 16, 2022).

Rufus West, an inmate at the Green Bay Correctional Institution asserted that strip searches by prison guards who were female at birth conflict with his religious faith, which bars him from exposing his body to a woman other than his wife. West sued after a prison guard, who is a transgender man, participated in a
Continue Reading Strip Search By Transgender Guard Violated Inmate’s Religious Rights

In June, Governor Pritzker signed The Decennial Committees on Local Government Efficiency Act into law (Public Act 102-1088). This new law applies to any unit of local government that levies taxes, with the specific exception of municipalities and counties. This broad sweeping law requires units of government to form a specialized committee by June 2023 for the purpose of studying the efficiencies of local government. These committees must meet at least three times, comply with the Open Meetings Act and requires an opportunity for public feedback at the conclusion of each meeting. The scope and breadth of their
Continue Reading New Law to Promote Local Government Efficiency

A recent ruling of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the City of Indianapolis’ motion to vacate a $1.24 million jury verdict against the City following a bar fight involving two off-duty police officers.

In Bohanon v. City of Indianapolis, No. 20-3125 (7th Cir. 2002), two off-duty police officers were drinking in a pub when they noticed another patron, Bradford Bohanon, get into an argument with the bartender. When the two officers intervened, a fight ensued and Bohanon was brutally beaten by the two officers in the parking lot. Bohanon sued the City of Indianapolis under 42 U.S.C.
Continue Reading Court Rules City Not Liable for Off-Duty Officers’ Actions Following Bar Fight

Tressler is proud to welcome Charles “Chuck” LeMoine to our General Defense and Litigation Practice Group. Chuck is known for litigating a wide range of civil matters and is a fierce advocate in the courtroom and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) venues. Chuck’s commercial litigation practice focuses on professional liability, insurance coverage, product liability, construction and contractor disputes, class and collective actions and business torts. He also has a depth of experience defending school districts, counties and municipalities. Chuck has appeared in state and federal courts on behalf of clients in claims arising from student fights, school bus accidents, sexual abuse, discrimination,
Continue Reading Charles LeMoine Joins Tressler’s General Defense and Litigation Practice Group

The Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court recently heard a FOIA case pertaining to attorney fees, Martinez v. City of Springfield, 2022 IL App (4th) 210290.

Plaintiff, Freddy Martinez, filed a complaint against the City of Springfield and the Springfield Police Department (collectively, “Springfield”) asserting a violation of the Freedom of Information Act (the “FOIA”) 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. Plaintiff sought a declaration that Springfield violated FOIA and requested an order mandating production of the requested records, attorney fees and civil penalties. Springfield subsequently produced the requested records to Plaintiff and moved for summary judgment on the complaint. The
Continue Reading Missing the FOIA Statutory Response Deadline Could Cost You 

In the 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld an assistant football coach’s right to pray after football games. Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist. 597 U.S. (2022). The case was filed by Joseph Kennedy, an assistant football coach at a Washington State high school. Kennedy’s contract was not renewed after he continued to pray after games at the 50-yard line despite being told not to by the school district in 2015. Kennedy argued that his free speech rights were violated and filed a lawsuit.

Lower courts mostly ruled in favor of the school district, which argued that Kennedy’s actions disregarded
Continue Reading School Districts Determine How to Move Forward in Light of the Supreme Court’s Recent Decision

Recently, in Staake v. Department of Corrections, 2022 IL App (4th) 210071, the Appellate Court heard a case pertaining to alleged FOIA violations. In 2018, an inmate, Jared Staake, filed two separate FOIA requests with the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) for documents including a complaint on file in a class action against DOC personnel and educational documents. The DOC denied both requests citing Section 7(1)(a) of FOIA which exempts information prohibited from disclosure by federal or State law or rules and regulations implementing federal or State laws. 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a).

Staake filed a complaint against DOC for declaratory
Continue Reading Civil Penalties For FOIA Violations Survive Even After Documents Are Disclosed

On May 27, 2022, Illinois passed a new law, HB5193, which allows public schools supported wholly or partially by the State to provide instruction in safety education in all grades. Sponsors of this bill say it is the State’s effort to reduce all gun violence and prevent future shootings. The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support.

Safety education includes instruction in the following:

  • Automobile safety, including traffic regulations, highway safety, and the consequences of alcohol consumption and the operation of a motor vehicle;
  • Safety in the home, including safe gun storage;
  • Safety in connection with recreational activities;
  • Safety in

  • Continue Reading New Illinois Law Allows Public Schools to Teach Students About Gun Storage Safety

    By: John M. O’Driscoll

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) published guidance on web accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It explains how state and local governments (entities covered by ADA Title II) and businesses open to the public (entities covered by ADA Title III) can make sure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities in line with the ADA’s requirements. https://beta.ada.gov/web-guidance/

    The DOJ guidance discusses a wide variety of areas, such as the importance of web accessibility, barriers that some websites create, when the ADA requires web content to be accessible and other resources. The guidance also
    Continue Reading New Web Accessibility Guidance Under the Americans with Disabilities Act