The Illinois Public Access Counselor’s (PAC) Office recently issued a binding PAC opinion finding a public body in violation of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for improperly denying a FOIA request for records concerning a juvenile victim. This PAC opinion involved a request for a police report concerning the investigation of an alleged crime committed by an adult against a minor. Generally, the Juvenile Court Act protects the confidentiality of juvenile law enforcement records and prohibits them from being disclosed to the general public. In its analysis, the PAC found that the requested police report was not a juvenile law enforcement record because the minor in the report was a victim of an offense, not a suspect or perpetrator. As such, the confidentiality provisions of the Juvenile Court Act did not apply to the requested police report and the police report was not exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
This new PAC opinion is helpful to public bodies (especially police departments) because it provides some clarity on the types of records that are protected by the confidentiality provision of the Juvenile Court Act, namely: records that identify a minor who is the perpetrator or suspect in an arrest, investigation or custodial detention. The opinion also discusses the types of records that are not protected by the confidentiality provision of the Juvenile Court Act, namely: records that identify a minor who is the victim of a criminal offense committed by an adult.
A copy of the PAC opinion discussed in this blog article can be found at http://foia.ilattorney general.net/pdf/opinions/2020/20-008.pdf. If you have any questions regarding FOIA, please contact your Tressler attorney.