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HRDC v. IDOC, IL, Complaint, FOIA, 2021

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Hearing Date: 12/16/2021 9:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Courtroom Number: 2301
Location: District 1 Court
Cook County, IL

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
COUNTY DEPARTMENT, CHANCERY DIVISION
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER,
Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT
OF CORRECTIONS,
Defendant.

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FILED
8/17/2021 4:27 PM
IRIS Y. MARTINEZ
CIRCUIT CLERK
COOK COUNTY, IL
2021CH04102
14471405

2021CH04102

COMPLAINT
NOW COMES Plaintiff HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER (“HRDC”), by the
undersigned attorneys Loevy & Loevy, and brings this suit to overturn Defendant ILLINOIS
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS’s (“IDOC”) willful violation of the Illinois Freedom of
Information Act. Defendant IDOC failed to comply with HRDC’s FOIA request for 1) contracts
between IDOC and Global Tel Link Corporations, 2) documents that would show the commissions
paid to IDOC resulting from the video visitations services provided in the IDOC facilities, and 3)
the allocations of these commission revenues. After blowing the statutory deadline to respond or
extend its deadline, IDOC refused to produce the records by claiming that it is unduly burdensome
to comply with HRDC’s FOIA request. In support of the Complaint, HRDC states as follows:
INTRODUCTION
1.

Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of

government, it is the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and
complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those
who represent them as public officials and public employees consistent with the terms of the
Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). 5 ILCS 140/1.

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

2.

Restraints on access to information, to the extent permitted by FOIA, are limited

exceptions to the principle that the people of this state have a right to full disclosure of information
relating to the decisions, policies, procedures, rules, standards, and other aspects of government
activity that affect the conduct of government and the lives of the people. 5 ILCS 140/1.
3.

Under FOIA Section 1.2, “[a]ll records in the custody or possession of a public

body are presumed to be open to inspection or copying. Any public body that asserts that a record
is exempt from disclosure has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that it is
exempt.” 5 ILCS 140/1.2.
PARTIES
4.

Plaintiff HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER (“HRDC”) is a non-profit

organization and made the FOIA request at issue in this case.
5.

Defendant ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (“IDOC”) is a public

body located in Cook County, Illinois.
JUNE 10, 2021 FOIA REQUEST
6.

On June 10, 2021, HRDC submitted a FOIA request (“Request”) to IDOC for the

following records: 1) “[d]ocuments detailing the contract between [Global Tel Link (GTL)] and
the Illinois Department of Corrections for video visitation services, including overall income
amounts and sources for each year, from Janauy 1, 2019 to present”; 2) “[a]ll documents showing
the amount of commission paid to the Illinois Department of Corrections or other appropriate
agency resulting from services related to video visitation services in facilities within the DOC”
from January 1, 2019 to present; and 3) “documents showing the allocation of this commission
revenue from January 1, 2019 to present.” Exhibit A.
7.

On June 21, 2021, IDOC assigned reference number 210610114 to the matter and

sought an extension of five-business days. Exhibit B.
-2-

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

8.

On June 28, 2021, IDOC purported that the request “as written” is “unduly

burdensome.” IDOC stated that it has “approximately 5000 responsive records that need to be
redacted” and asked HRDC to “narrow” the request “to make it more manageable for IDOC FOIA
Unit staff.” Exhibit C.
9.

IDOC waived its right to claim that the request is “unduly burdensome” under

Section 3(g) of FOIA when it failed to comply with HRDC’s FOIA request within the statutory
deadline.
10.

Section 3(d) of FOIA states:

Each public body shall, promptly, either comply with or deny a request for public
records within 5 business days after its receipt of the request, unless the time for
response is properly extended under subsection (e) of this Section. Denial shall be
in writing as provided in Section 9 of this Act. Failure to comply with a written
request, extend the time for response, or deny a request within 5 business days
after its receipt shall be considered a denial of the request. A public body that fails
to respond to a request within the requisite periods in this Section but thereafter
provides the requester with copies of the requested public records may not impose
a fee for such copies. A public body that fails to respond to a request received may
not treat the request as unduly burdensome under subsection (g).
5 ILCS 140/3(d). (Emphasis added).
11.

Section 3(f) of FOIA states:

When additional time is required for any of the above reasons, the public body shall,
within 5 business days after receipt of the request, notify the person making the
request of the reasons for the extension and the date by which the response will be
forthcoming. Failure to respond within the time permitted for extension shall be
considered a denial of the request. A public body that fails to respond to a request
within the time permitted for extension but thereafter provides the requester with
copies of the requested public records may not impose a fee for those copies. A
public body that requests an extension and subsequently fails to respond to the
request may not treat the request as unduly burdensome under subsection (g).
5 ILCS 140/3(f). (Emphasis added).
12.

IDOC’s deadline to comply with the request, extend the time for response, or deny

the request was June 17, 2021.
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FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

13.

Even if IDOC were within its statutory deadline to claim that the request is “unduly

burdensome,” which it was not, IDOC did not extend an “opportunity to confer” with HRDC “in
an attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions.” 5 ILCS 140/3(g).
14.

As of the date of this filing, IDOC has failed to comply with FOIA and has produced

no records responsive to the request.
COUNT I – JUNE 10, 2021 FOIA REQUEST,
FAILURE TO PRODUCE RECORDS
15.

The above paragraphs are incorporated by reference.

16.

IDOC is a public body under FOIA.

17.

The records sought in the FOIA request are non-exempt public records of IDOC.

18.

IDOC violated FOIA by failing to produce records responsive to the request.
COUNT II – JUNE 10, 2021 FOIA REQUEST,
FAILURE TO PERFORM AN ADEQUATE SEARCH

19.

The above paragraphs are incorporated by reference.

20.

IDOC is a public body under FOIA.

21.

IDOC bears the burden of proving beyond material doubt that it performed an

adequate search for records responsive to the request.
22.

IDOC has failed to come forward with sufficient evidence to carry this burden.

23.

IDOC has violated FOIA by failing to adequately search for records responsive to

the request.
COUNT III – JUNE 10, 2021 FOIA REQUEST,
WILLFUL AND INTENTIONAL VIOLATION OF FOIA
24.

The above paragraphs are incorporated by reference.

25.

IDOC is a public body under FOIA.

26.

The records sought in the FOIA request are non-exempt public records of IDOC.
-4-

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

27.

IDOC willfully and intentionally, or otherwise in bad faith failed to comply with

FOIA.
WHEREFORE, HRDC asks that the Court:
i.

declare that IDOC has violated FOIA;

ii.

order IDOC to conduct an adequate search for the requested records;

iii.

order IDOC to produce the requested records;

iv.

enjoin IDOC from withholding non-exempt public records under FOIA;

v.

order IDOC to pay civil penalties;

vi.

award HRDC reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs; and

vii.

award such other relief the Court considers appropriate.

Dated: August 17, 2021
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,
/s/ Matthew Topic
Attorneys for Plaintiff,
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER
Matthew Topic
Joshua Burday
Merrick Wayne
Shelley Geiszler
LOEVY & LOEVY
311 North Aberdeen, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60607
312-243-5900
foia@loevy.com
Atty. No. 41295

-5-

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

From:
To:
Subject:
Date:
Attachments:

FOIA General Mailbox
doc.foiarequest@illinois.gov
Public Records Request from the Human Rights Defense Center
Thursday, June 10, 2021 10:36:26 AM
image001.png
Illinois DOC - GTL Contracts - HRDC Records Request 6-10-21.pdf

To the Freedom of Information Act Officer,
Attached, please find a public records request from the Human Rights Defense Center; the text of
this request is duplicated in the body of this message.
The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) makes this request pursuant to the Freedom of Information
Act, 5 ILCS 140/1.
DOCUMENTS REQUESTED
We are requesting the following documents regarding contracts with Global Tel*Link Corporation
(GTL):

1. Documents detailing the contract between GTL and the Illinois Department of Corrections for video
visitation services, including overall income amounts and sources for each year, from January 1,
2019 to present.
We are requesting the following documents regarding commissions:
2. All documents showing the amount of commission paid to the Illinois Department of Corrections
or other appropriate agency resulting from services related to video visitation services in facilities
within the DOC. In addition, documents showing the allocation of this commission revenue from
January 1, 2019 to present.
HRDC is a nonprofit organization and the requested records will be used for the benefit of the public
through our non-commercial news reporting, and will contribute significantly to public understanding of
government operations and activities at the Illinois Department of Corrections. Given this public benefit,
we request a waiver of all fees.
Pursuant to IL ST CH 5 § 140/11, HRDC requests a summary of any applicable charges be provided
before any copies are made.
If this request is denied in whole or part, please justify all denials by reference to specific exemptions. If
any records responsive to this request are denied in part, we expect the release of all segregable portions
of those records. Additionally, please outline any administrative appeals process available.
Please contact me via email, FOIA@humanrightsdefensecenter.org, should you require any additional
information. Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.
Sincerely,

Samantha Beauvais
Public Records Manager &
Development Coordinator
Human Rights Defense Center
Prison Legal News
M: 561-305-4643

Exhibit A

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

Human Rights Defense Center
DEDICATED TO PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS
June 10, 2021
Freedom of Information Act Officer
Illinois Department of Corrections
1301 Concordia Court
P.O. Box 19277
Springfield, IL 62794-9277
Submitted via email to: DOC.FOIARequest@illinois.gov
Re:

Request for Commissions and GTL Contracts

To the Freedom of Information Act Officer:
The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) makes this request pursuant to the Freedom of
Information Act, 5 ILCS 140/1.
DOCUMENTS REQUESTED
We are requesting the following documents regarding contracts with Global Tel*Link
Corporation (GTL):
1. Documents detailing the contract between GTL and the Illinois Department of
Corrections for video visitation services, including overall income amounts and sources
for each year, from January 1, 2019 to present.
We are requesting the following documents regarding commissions:
2. All documents showing the amount of commission paid to the Illinois Department of
Corrections or other appropriate agency resulting from services related to video visitation
services in facilities within the DOC. In addition, documents showing the allocation of
this commission revenue from January 1, 2019 to present.
HRDC is a nonprofit organization and the requested records will be used for the benefit of the
public through our non-commercial news reporting, and will contribute significantly to public
understanding of government operations and activities at the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Given this public benefit, we request a waiver of all fees.
Pursuant to IL ST CH 5 § 140/11, HRDC requests a summary of any applicable charges be
provided before any copies are made.
P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33498
561-305-4643 | FOIA@humanrightsdefensecenter.org

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

If this request is denied in whole or part, please justify all denials by reference to specific
exemptions. If any records responsive to this request are denied in part, we expect the release of
all segregable portions of those records. Additionally, please outline any administrative appeals
process available.
Please contact me via email, FOIA@humanrightsdefensecenter.org, should you require any
additional information. Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.
Sincerely,
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER

Samantha Beauvais
Public Records Manager

P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460
561-305-4643 | FOIA@humanrightsdefensecenter.org

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

JB Pritzker
Governor

Rob Jeffreys
Acting Director

The Illinois Department of Corrections
1301 Concordia Court, P.O. Box 19277 • Springfield, IL 62794-9277 • (217) 558-2200 TDD: (800) 526-0844

June 21, 2021
Samantha Beauvais
foia@humanrightsdefensecenter.org
Re:

Freedom of Information Request #210610114

This letter is in response to your request to the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) pursuant to
the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140/1, et seq.
You have submitted the following request:
We are requesting the following documents regarding contracts with Global Tel*Link Corporation (GTL):
1.

Documents detailing the contract between GTL and the Illinois Department of Corrections for video
visitation services, including overall income amounts and sources for each year, from January 1, 2019 to
present.

We are requesting the following documents regarding commissions:
2. All documents showing the amount of commission paid to the Illinois Department of Corrections or other
appropriate agency resulting from services related to video visitation services in facilities within the DOC.
In addition, documents showing the allocation of this commission revenue from January 1, 2019 to
present.
Response:
IDOC is extending the time to respond to your request because “the request for records
cannot be complied with by the public body within the time limits prescribed by paragraph (c) of this Section
without unduly burdening or interfering with the operations of the public body.” The Department plans to respond
to your request on or before June 28, 2021.
In the event you view this response as a denial of your request, you have a right to have the denial
reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. 5 ILCS 140/9.5(a) you
can file your request for review with the PAC to:
Public Access Counselor
Office of the Attorney General
500 South 2nd Street
Springfield, Illinois 62706

Mission: To serve justice in Illinois and increase public safety by promoting positive change in
offender behavior, operating successful reentry programs, and reducing victimization.
www.illinois.gov/idoc

Exhibit B

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

You also have the right to seek judicial review of your denial by filing a lawsuit in the state circuit court, pursuant to
5 ILCS 140/11.
If you choose to file a request for review with the PAC, you must do so within 60 calendar days of the date
of this denial letter (5 ILCS 140/9.5(a)). Please note that you must include a copy of your original FOIA request and
this denial letter when filing a request for review with the PAC.
Sincerely,
Maggie Meikle

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

JB Pritzker
Governor

Rob Jeffreys
Acting Director

The Illinois Department of Corrections
1301 Concordia Court, P.O. Box 19277 • Springfield, IL 62794-9277 • (217) 558-2200 TDD: (800) 526-0844

June 28, 2021
Samantha Beauvais
FOIA@humanrightsdefensecenter.org
Re:

Freedom of Information Request #210610114

This letter is in response to your request to the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”)
pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140/1, et seq.
You have submitted the following request:
The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) makes this request pursuant to the Freedom of
Information Act, 5 ILCS 140/1.
DOCUMENTS REQUESTED
We are requesting the following documents regarding contracts with Global Tel*Link
Corporation (GTL):
1. Documents detailing the contract between GTL and the Illinois Department of Corrections
for video visitation services, including overall income amounts and sources for each year,
from January 1, 2019 to present.
We are requesting the following documents regarding commissions:
2. All documents showing the amount of commission paid to the Illinois Department of
Corrections or other appropriate agency resulting from services related to video visitation
services in facilities within the DOC. In addition, documents showing the allocation of this
commission revenue from January 1, 2019 to present.
Response:
Your request, as written, unduly burdensome. IDOC has approximately 5000 responsive
records that need to be redacted. Please narrow your request to make it more manageable for IDOC
FOIA Unit staff.

Mission: To serve justice in Illinois and increase public safety by promoting positive change in
offender behavior, operating successful reentry programs, and reducing victimization.
www.illinois.gov/idoc

Exhibit C

FILED DATE: 8/17/2021 4:27 PM 2021CH04102

In the event you view this response as a denial of your request, you have a right to have the
denial reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. 5
ILCS 140/9.5(a) you can file your request for review with the PAC to:
Public Access Counselor
Office of the Attorney General
500 South 2nd Street
Springfield, Illinois 62706
You also have the right to seek judicial review of your denial by filing a lawsuit in the state circuit
court, pursuant to 5 ILCS 140/11.
If you choose to file a request for review with the PAC, you must do so within 60 calendar days
of the date of this denial letter (5 ILCS 140/9.5(a)). Please note that you must include a copy of your
original FOIA request and this denial letter when filing a request for review with the PAC.
Sincerely,
Maggie Meikle
Freedom of Information Officer
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