City Clerk Devon Reid has filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the City of Evanston, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and Corporation Counsel Michelle Masoncup.
The suit was filed Tuesday afternoon in the chancery division of the court and seeks a declaratory judgment.
Update 12:45 p.m.: Reid, in a telephone interview this afternoon, said his complaint argues that he should be provided copies of body camera footage released by the police department in response to Freedom of Information Act requests,
The state Freeedom of Information Act, at 5 ILCS 140/3.5, provides that the FOIA officer shall “create a file for the retention of the original request, a copy of the response, a record of written communications with the requester, and a copy of other communications.”
He also argues that he should be provided with unredacted copies of all documents produced in response to FOIA rquests to be able to determine whether the redactions were appropriate.
His complaint does not cite a specific statutory provisions to support that claim, and the statute, at 5 ILCS 140/7, specifies that “the public body” shall determine what information is exempt from disclosure.
City Manager Bobkiewicz said this morning that he hasn’t yet seen the complaint and was not in a position to comment.
Update 4:12 p.m.: Corporation Counsel Masoncup this afternoon issued a statement saying, “The City of Evanston operates within the statutory limitations established by the Illinois Body-Worn Camera Act and the Illinois Freedom of Information Act with respect to which individuals may review the body worn camera footage.”
“In addition,” she said, “the attorney-client privilege is fundamental to the lawyer-client relationship. The City believes that the City Clerk cannot be the arbitrator of whether or not an individual has privacy rights with respect to these issues.”
In 2017 aldermen considered designating someone else as the city’s official responsible for handling FOIA requests after controversy developed over Reid’s decision to publicly release data that identified a sexual assault victim and an arrested juvenile.
But the aldermen let him keep that role after backers of his campaign for election as clerk spoke in support of him keeping the FOIA responsibilities.
Reid says the procedural issues that led to the earlier controversy have been resolved and no similar issues have arisen since.
Update 8/14/19: Reid dropped his suit last week. He no longer had standing to sue after the City Council reassigned responsibility for FOIA requests involving the police and law departments to other city officials.
Clerk gets to keep FOIA role (10/17/17)
Clerk’s role as FOIA officer in doubt (9/28/17)