FOIA: Public Defender Record Types

DefenderThis request to Cook County Public Defender (CCPD) is one in a series of FOIA requests aimed at getting a better understanding of the data and records the Public Defender maintains and in what format they maintain it. There is section within the FOIA law that requires public bodies to maintain a list of the types of records they maintain. This should allow the public to better understand the overall operations of these agencies.  To date the responses we have received has all be really poorly produced without any mention of any records related to the digital communications of their staff. We hope our response from the Public Defender is better than what we have received to this point

The Public Defender is a very large and complex agency that is tasked with representing indigent criminal defendants in Cook County Criminal Court and a whole host of other activities. Their response to this FOIA should allow us to understand the depth of their data collection activities.

CJP will be producing original content based on the responses we get from the 9 criminal justice agencies that we sent request to.

FOIA Content

June 9, 2020

Cook County Public Defender
Freedom of Information Act
Section 5 list

The following documents are maintained by the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, although not all are documents which must be disclosed under FOIA as one or more exemptions may apply to them:

1) Financial records including but not limited to, budgetary materials, bills and payment records, grant applications and related documents, payroll and reimbursement records; contracts with vendors;

2) Personnel records including applications, hiring, promotion, and termination documents, employee evaluations, disciplinary records, time and attendance records;

3) Employee training materials;

4) Other miscellaneous documents pertaining to the management and administration of the Public Defender’s office

In response to FOIA requests, the Public Defender furnishes, or makes available for inspection, documents that are (1) printed out on paper, (2) attached to e-mails sent to the requesters, or (3) replicated in CD’s or flash drives that contain the documents or information in a form readily rendered readable by commonly-available computer programs.

June 7, 2020

To: Cook County Public Defender’s Office

Subject: Chicago Justice Project FOIA – All Record Types

In accordance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140, I request that your office provide the following public records:

  1. A list of all types or categories of records currently under the Cook County Public Defender’s Office’s Control, as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.
  2. A description of the manner in which public records stored by means of electronic data processing may be obtained from the Cook County Public Defender’s Office (in a form comprehensible to persons lacking knowledge of computer language or printout format), as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.

If the agency believes they are going to withhold any document or information pertinent to the requests made herein, please identify the document or information in as much detail as is possible and detail in specific language why each document or piece of information is being withheld.

If any information requested herein is withheld on the basis of a claim of privilege or subject to protection as material prepared in anticipation of litigation or trial, then that claim shall be made expressly in a writing that describes the nature of the Documents, Communications, or Things not produced or disclosed in a manner that will enable us to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection. With regard to each claim of privilege or protection, the following information should be provided in the response or the objection:

(a) the type of Document, e.g., letter or memorandum;
(b) general subject matter of the Document;
(c) the date of the Document; and
(d) such other information as is sufficient to identify the Document for a subpoena duces tecum, including, where appropriate, the author, addressee, and any other recipient of the Document, and, where not apparent, the relationship of the author, addressee, and any other recipient to each other.

If any Document or Thing identified herein has been lost, discarded, or destroyed, each such Document or Thing should be identified as completely as possible, including as to each such Document or Thing, its date, general nature (e.g., letter, memorandum, telegram, telex, photograph, computer printout), subject matter, each author or originator, each person indicated as an addressee or copy recipient, and its former custodian(s). In addition, as to each such Document or Thing, the following information shall be supplied

(a) date of disposal, loss, or destruction;
(b) manner of disposal, loss, or destruction;
(c) reason for disposal or destruction, or any explanation of loss;
(d) persons authorizing the disposal or destruction;
(e) persons having knowledge of the disposal, destruction, or loss; and
(f) persons who destroyed, lost, or disposed or the Document or Thing.

I look forward to hearing from you in writing within five working days, as required by the Act 5 ILCS 140(3). Please direct all questions or responses to this FOIA request to this email address by responding to this email.

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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