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Illinois state’s attorneys are subject to FOIA

1 year, 2 months ago by Denise Donley

Adams County State’s Attorney not surprised by the ruling

State’s Attorneys in Illinois will now be required to release public records.

The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that state’s attorneys are government officials subject to the state public-records law.

County prosecutors are now required to release public records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

An appellate court found that state’s attorney offices aren’t public bodies subject to the open-records law; however, the state Supreme Court reversed that ruling.

Adams County State’s Attorney Jon Barnard said he’s not surprised by the ruling.

“It doesn’t really matter what my thoughts are. When they speak, we listen. There was a presumption that we have been subject to FOIA but yet at the same time there’s a little bit of room for argument,” said Barnard. “Now that State’s attorney are subject to FOIA, it doesn’t really shock or offend me. I think the only real flashpoint, and that’s rare, is when sensitive documents that might be the subject of ongoing prosecutions are requested but there’s a basis to deny on that ground anyway.”

Barnard said he routinely gets FOIA requests in Adams County.

“I respond to them. I’ve always operated on the assumption that we’re subject to FOIA.  I get requests several times a week and I respond based on that assumption.”

He added his office won’t need to change procedure based upon the ruling.

“Because I’ve been operating on the assumption that we are subject to FOIA, it will have virtually no effect on our office,” said Barnard. “The offices that have taken the position that States Attorneys are not subject to FOIA will have a major change of policy because the Supreme Court has ruled and that’s the end of the discussion.”

 


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