The Illinois Appellate Court recently heard a case, Calloway v. Chicago Police Department, 2022 IL App (1st) 210090, involving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and whether the privacy provisions extend to deceased minors. In this case, Plaintiff brought suit against the Chicago Police Department seeking disclosure of records related to an officer-involved fatal shooting of a minor. The circuit court held that the confidentiality provisions that apply to law enforcement records of minors contained in the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (the “JCA”) did not apply to deceased minors. The Chicago Police Department appealed.
Section 7(1)(a) of FOIA exempts information specifically prohibited from disclosure by federal or State law or rules and regulations implementing federal or State law. FOIA also provides that information that is prohibited from disclosure by the JCA is exempt from disclosure. Upon examination of both the FOIA and the JCA, the Appellate Court reversed the decision of the circuit court, finding that the circuit court’s conclusion that the JCA’s privacy provisions do not apply “at all” to the law enforcement records of a deceased minor was incorrect. Alternatively, the Appellate Court held that juvenile law enforcement records are confidential and may never be disclosed to the general public or otherwise made widely available unless required by court order. Further, they held that juvenile records must be maintained separate from the records of arrest and may not be open to public inspection or disclosed to the public. In reading all these provisions, the Court determined that none of the privacy provisions contain any language limiting the scope of the protection where the records at issue involve a minor that is deceased.
The Appellate Court concluded that the JCA applies to deceased minors and remanded the case back to the circuit court to conduct further proceedings to determine whether any records in the specific records request may be disclosed without violating the confidentiality provisions applicable to law enforcement records of minors.