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Illinois Public Defender Documents Exemptions Discussed

Illinois’ First District Court of Appeal held that a trial court’s use of “one-size-fits-all, generic and conclusionary” affidavits to determine the City of Chicago’s motion to dismiss a prisoner’s document request “is rubber stamp judicature,” and the court said it would “decline to take part in it.”

Arnold Day was convicted in 1994 of the 1991 murder of Gerrod Irving. The only evidence linking Day to the murder was a confession he gave to Chicago Police Department (CPD) detectives Kenneth Boudreau and William Foley, which Day said came only after he was physically tortured.

The trial court dismissed Day’s motion to produce documents, specifically his arrest report and the general offense case report. It accepted the CDP’s statutory exemptions of an ongoing criminal investigation, personal privacy, and deliberative process.

The CPD relied upon three affidavits to support its exemptions to disclose the documents. The appellate court found those affidavits to be “entirely conclusionary and inadequate to sustain.” The documents were exempt because disclosure would “obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation.”

The court noted Day’s conviction occurred 14 years ago, and there was no explanation of how disclosure would obstruct and investigation into the 17 year old murder. “Simply saying there is an ‘ongoing criminal investigation because the case has not been cleared,’ with little additional explanation is not ‘objective indica,’ sufficient to show the ongoing investigation exemption applies,” said the court.

As to the personal privacy exemption, Day argued it was not applicable because the documents were produced during his criminal trial without any expectation of privacy. The court added that precedent holds that “voluntary disclosure in one situation can preclude later claims that records are exempt from release to someone else.” The trial court must determine the circumstances of the previous disclosure to determine this exemption.
Finally, the deliberative process exemption applies to “predecisional materials used by a public body in its deliberative process.” The affidavits fail to demonstrate which, if any, of the requested documents includes opinions or formulated policies or actions.
The trial court’s dismissal order was reversed, and it was ordered to review each document on camera and make appropriate findings. See: Day v. City of Chicago, 388 Ill. App.30 70; 902N.E 201144; 2009 Ill. App. Lexis 66 (2009)

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Related legal case

Day v. City of Chicago