US ruling: Reasons for making FoI requests are not relevant

The 4th District Appellate Court in Illionois has ruled that the reasons why someone wants information under the state's Freedom of Information Act should have no bearing on whether or not the request is granted.

The court reversed the decision of a Sangamon County circuit judge who dismissed an attorney's FOIA request for Springfield's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission records because the lawyer had been denied the information during federal court discovery proceedings.

The appellate court found that Circuit Judge Leslie Graves was wrong to consider the purpose of the FOIA request by Cox's legal assistant, Judith Carson: "To allow the trial court's dismissal to stand ... could lead to the absurd result where a public body could refuse disclosure of information to some individuals ... but disclose the information, or even be required to disclose the information, to others," wrote Judge James Knecht. "This is not what the legislature intended when enacting the Act ... The relevant question is ... whether the information requested is exempted from disclosure ... "

City attorney Jenifer Johnson said Wednesday the city was considering whether to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Court turns ruling in FOIA request: Reason for information inquiry has no relevance to approval (State Journal Register, Illinois, 1 December 2005)