In response to the Chicago Police Department’s attempts to keep details of its stingray surveillance from the public, today Loevy & Loevy responded on behalf of our client, transparency activist Freddy Martinez.
Electronic surveillance is a key issue of our times, and we are proud to be representing Mr. Martinez in this fight. CPD’s reply brief is due August 28. On September 23 we will be in court to set a hearing date.
Here is the introduction to our brief, with a link to the full brief:
“The legislature and courts of this state have consistently and repeatedly made clear that left unchecked, government will operate in secrecy to the detriment of the public. Efforts by government generally, and the CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT specifically, to hide information from the public based on conclusory affidavits and expansive interpretations of FOIA exemptions have been firmly and loudly rejected by reviewing courts and lawmakers alike. Despite the overwhelming weight of authority establishing these principles, CPD asks this Court to dismiss this case, without the opportunity for any discovery, on the basis of generic, one-size-fits-all affidavits and in derogation of the requirement that exemptions be read narrowly and in light of the statutory presumption of disclosure.
“It falls to this Court to uphold the important principle that access to information under FOIA “is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest.” 5 ILCS 140/1. While CPD, the FBI, and Harris Corporation summon the frequent bogeymen of “national security” and “terrorism,” this Court may not and must not accept these bare assertions, which are devoid of supporting detail, contradicted by a wealth of public information and expert testimony, and made before MARTINEZ has had any opportunity to conduct discovery to test the veracity of the claims. It is not in spite of, but especially because of, the nature of the surveillance at issue in this case and the possibility of abuse by CPD (a department with a long history of illegal and unconstitutional surveillance), that these principles of transparency must be upheld.”