On November 16, 2016 the we filed a FOIA request with the City of Chicago’s Law Department seeking a copy of a recently completed study on the topic of Chicago Police Department training. Here is the content of the request:
In accordance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act please provide copies of the following records:
Michael Bromwich’s report on Chicago Police Department training / training academy completed in 2016.
Please furnish the records in accordance with the five working day requirement in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Please contact us via email with any questions you have and please furnish the requested records electronically.
The Department of Law denied our FOIA on the following grounds:
The record you seek is being withheld as attorney-client privileged work product consistent with Section 7(1)(m) of the FOIA. Section 7(1)(m) provides:
Communications between a public body and an attorney or auditor representing the public body that would not be subject to discovery in litigation, and materials prepared or compiled by or for a public body in anticipation of a criminal, civil or administrative proceeding upon the request of an attorney advising the public body, and materials prepared or compiled with respect to internal audits of public bodies.
5 ILCS 140/7(1)(m). The Public Access Bureau (PAB) has interpreted Section 7(1)(m) to exempt records that are not subject to discovery under the Illinois work product doctrine. Ill. Att’y Gen. PAC Req. Rev. Ltr. 20541, issued January 10, 2013, at 4. The PAB has also interpreted Section 7(1)(m) to exempt communications protected by the attorney-client privilege. 2014 PAC 31341 (Ill. Att’y Gen. PAC Req. Rev. Ltr., issued January 6, 2015, at 3. The record that you seek was created by an attorney retained by the city and contains privileged and confidential information protected from disclosure by the work product doctrine and the attorney client privilege. Thus, this record is privileged as attorney-client communications and/or work product and has been withheld pursuant to Section 7(1)(m).
One would think with all the public proclamations the Mayor and his administration have about how they have learned from their mistakes in the McDonald case they would be afraid to deny such simple FOIAs. Then again we are talking about the Emanuel administration. There isn’t anything they will fight to the death to keep secret. It is a Chicago tradition.