Public Access Opinion 20-010

Duty to Respond to FOIA Requests

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 20-010
Date: Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Cook County Assessor’s Office (Assessor) violated Section 3(d) of FOIA by failing to respond to a FOIA request.
On September 29, 2020, Requestor submitted a FOIA request to the Assessor, seeking information regarding who had filed for a division of an identified property and a copy of the recent application related to the property, which Requestor identified by its Property Index Number. Requestor did not receive a response to his request.
On October 21, 2020, Requestor submitted a Request for Review to the PAC, alleging the Assessor failed to respond to his FOIA request. The PAC then wrote to the Assessor regarding this matter, but the Assessor did not respond. After multiple communication attempts by the PAC, on December 15, 2020, the Assessor finally responded to the PAC via a voicemail stating that the Assessor was preparing its response to the FOIA request and anticipated the response would issue within 10 days. As of December 30, 2020, the PAC had not received a written response from the Assessor and Requestor had not received a response to his FOIA request.
Section 3(d) of FOIA states that “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…” Because the Assessor did not comply with Section 3(d), the PAC ordered the Assessor to take immediate and appropriate action to provide Requestor with all records responsive to his request, subject only to permissible redactions.
This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.