Back to Top

Nelson Wins FOIA Case

     The Illinois News Broadcasters Association is pleased by the unanimous decision of the Illinois Supreme Court Thursday in Nelson v. Kendall County and by the determination of Nelson Multimedia, Inc., WSPY-AM/FM/TV and owner Larry Nelson to see this case through. In this case, Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis tried to dodge the requirements of Illinois Freedom of Information Act disclosure by claiming that his office was a part of the state's judicial branch, which is not subject to FOIA, even though his office has the FOIA officer required of executive branch agencies under the law.  .
     By definition, the state’s attorney is charged with upholding the laws of the state of Illinois, not with trying to circumvent them.  The Illinois Constitution plainly places the state’s attorney’s office in the executive branch, which is subject to the provisions of FOIA.  The court ruled correctly that state’s attorneys are not a part of the judicial branch.
     Transparency in government is a good thing and should be a standard, not a goal.  Illinois rewrote its Freedom of Information Act at a time when it became clear that a law riddled with exemptions is not in the public’s interest.  We have nothing but praise for the high court in decision to draw back the curtain and let the sun shine in.
    The case now returns to the trial court level for a rehearing. The full 10-page opinion can be found athttp://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2014/116303.pdf.

Laura.Trendle.Polus's picture
ABOUT THE AUTHOR