Government Transparency/Freedom of Information Act
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted many years ago that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Keeping with this important American value, the Illinois Freedom of Information Act provides that “it is the public policy of the State of Illinois that access by all persons to public records promotes the transparency and accountability of public bodies at all levels of government. It is a fundamental obligation of government to operate openly and provide public records as expediently and efficiently as possible in compliance with this Act.”
Sadly, our government often treats public records as its own property, throwing up illegal roadblocks to public transparency and acting with contempt for the accountability principles that are supposed to be “the public policy of the State of Illinois.” Given the attitude of secrecy that pervades so much of our government, it is little surprise that the former head of the FBI in Chicago has said that “if [Illinois] isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it is certainly one hell of a competitor.”
At Loevy & Loevy, we have the experience, dedication, and tenacity to take on federal, state, and local governments when they try to operate in secret. Our FOIA attorneys have obtained dozens of favorable results in FOIA cases, in the process often exposing possible misconduct by government employees and officials. We have represented journalists, non-profits, businesses, activists, and other attorneys in dozens of FOIA cases, often at no cost. Our successes include:
- Forced Chicago Police Department to release Laquan McDonald and Ronald Johnson III shooting videos
- Forced Chicago Police Department to release records showing allegations of misconduct by officers (commonly known as “CR files”)
- Forced Chicago Police Department, Chicago Public Schools, and other public bodies to address widespread problems with untimely FOIA responses
- Forced FBI to release records about a corrupt CPD officer who testified against an individual in his criminal case, ultimately assisting the individual in obtaining his exoneration
- Forced a Cook County municipality to produces years worth of emails after waiving the “undue burden” exemption through failure to respond
- Overturned an Attorney General opinion that allowed a public body to lock an electronic document based on a “fear of manipulation”
- Forced Chicago Police Department to conduct more thorough searches for records relevant to potential exoneration claims by people who may have been wrongfully convicted.
- Forced release of state grand jury subpoena over the objection of the Cook County State’s Attorney
- Forced release of various Chicago Police Department electronic data
- Reached ongoing settlement agreement to resolve question of whether individuals using public records on social media qualified as news media.
- Forced Chicago Transit Authority to release extensive records regarding the Ventra bidding process
- Forced Chicago Police Department to release records showing acquisition of “stingray” surveillance equipment
- Forced public pension plan to release gift and perk information
- Forced school district to produce settlement agreement wrongfully withheld on the basis of confidentiality
View our Freedom of Information Guide to learn more about how to make a FOIA request and to understand your rights if your FOIA request has been denied.
Take Action Today
If the government has refused to provide you documents under the Freedom of Information Act, we encourage you to contact us today for a free initial consultation with an accomplished FOIA attorney.