FOIA, Featuring Merrick Wayne

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a vital tool that allows residents of the state to gain access to public records. Today’s show features a discussion on FOIA and more specifically a memo authored by Matt Topic from Loevy & Loevy.

Our guest today is Merrick Wayne who specializes in representing residents, journalists, and nonprofits in their efforts to litigate for access to public records in Illinois. Merrick is also currently representing us in our ongoing litigation against the Chicago Police Department.

Topic was approached in the spring of 2019 by Lori Lightfoot’s transition committee seeking his input on ways to improve the city’s response to FOIA. Topic authored a memo documenting his recommendations. Many of which CJP things would be significant game changes in the battle to access government records in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

If you want to read the memo for your self you can download here: FOIA Memo.

There are several recommendations that are contained in the memo that if implemented would significantly alter the world of FOIA in Illinois. In today’s show we discuss a few of them including:

  • Law Department Review – this would force the law department to author memo about each FOIA complaint filed in Cook County Court within 30 days of the complaint being filed and the memo would then to be delivered to the mayor’s office.
  • Stop using deliberative exemption – this would open up access to records about how the city actually comes to making a decision.

There are more recommendations discussed in the episode that are really important for the city to adopt. One year after receiving the memo thought the city has not taken and meaningful steps towards the implementation of any of the recommendations that we can see.

You can access full episodes of the podcast and many clips on our Youtube channel

If you have any questions about this or any episode of our podcast please email pod@chicagojustice.org and we might feature your question on our next episode.

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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