Public Access Opinion 17-002

Failure to Respond to a FOIA Request

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 17-002
Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A public body violated FOIA by failing to comply with, deny in whole or in part, or otherwise appropriately respond to a FOIA request. An individual submitted a request via email on Jan. 4, 2017 for a copy of a police report and documents related to a police pursuit that began in East St. Louis on the morning of Dec. 13, 2016. Twelve days after making the request, the requestor had yet to receive a response and requested the PAC review the City’s failure to respond. The City did not respond to the PAC’s first correspondence regarding this matter, but it responded to the PAC’s second correspondence by indicating that the request had been forwarded to the Police and City Attorney. On March 1, 2017, the requestor resubmitted her FOIA request and was informed by the City Manager that he would work with the police department to fulfill her Jan. 4, 2017 request. As of April 18, 2017, the City had not responded to the FOIA request.

The PAC found that the City violated Section 3(d) of FOIA by failing to provide the requested records, to extend the time for its response, or to deny the request in whole or in part within five business days of receiving the request. The PAC ordered the City to immediately provide all records in response to the FOIA requestor, subject only to any permissible redactions under Section 7. Again, the bottom line here is that public bodies must respond to FOIA requests within the time permitted per statute.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.

Cassandra Black, IASB Law Clerk