Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Police Department Redactions in FOIA Response
Jan 11, 2022
Recently, the Supreme Court of Illinois issued an opinion regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Mancini Law Group, P.C. v. Schaumburg Police Department, 2021 IL 126675. In July 2017, the Mancini Law Group, P.C. sent a commercial FOIA request to the Schaumburg Police Department seeking copies of traffic accident reports in Schaumburg for a two-week period. The request was granted in part and denied in part. Schaumburg agreed to provide the accident reports but redacted certain private information (e.g., driver’s license numbers, personal telephone numbers, home addresses, and license plate numbers) pursuant to Section 7(1)(b) of FOIA and dates of birth and policy account numbers pursuant to section 7(1)(c) of FOIA. However, prior to the FOIA request, the Schaumburg P.D. had provided an unredacted copy of the accident reports to Lexis-Nexis in order to comply with the mandated reporting requirements of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
The Mancini Law Group, P.C. sued alleging that the Schaumburg P.D. had willfully and intentionally violated FOIA by refusing to provide the unredacted reports. The circuit court found that the information the Schaumburg P.D. had redacted was exempt from disclosure under FOIA. The appellate court affirmed. The Mancini Law Group, P.C. then appealed to the Supreme Court of Illinois. The Court found that the Schaumburg P.D. was not precluded from asserting that the private information was exempt under sections 7(1)(b) and 7(1)(c) of FOIA, despite having disclosed the unredacted reports to Lexis-Nexus. The Court noted that an Illinois municipality does not have the ability to waive an individual’s interest in their own private information in public records that are subject to FOIA. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court.
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