FOIA: SAO Record Types

SAOThis request to Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) in one in a series of FOIA requests aimed at getting a better understanding of the data and records the SAO 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 SAO is better than what we have received to this point

The SAO is in charge of prosecuting felony and misdemeanor cases that arise in Cook County. It is the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country.

We have had continuous problems getting the office to live up to their responsibilities under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. After a series of denied requests under the tenure of Anita Alvarez we sued the office in circuit court to obtain the data they are legally responsible for releasing. After being in office several months Kim Foxx settled that lawsuit but failed to release data in a usable format and let a very high number of fields blank and refused to tell us why. We are in the process of heading back to court this time against Foxx for basically the same lack of accountability as her predecessor.

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

FOIA Content

SAO FOIA #6

1.     A list of all types or categories of records currently under Your 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 You (in a form comprehensible to persons lacking knowledge of computer language or printout format), as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.

This FOIA was actually field as part of a series of FOIA to the SAO. Their general failure to respond appropriately to that series of FOIA is leading us toward litigation. Below is the content of how the SAO responded to this specific FOIA request.

May 5, 2020 –

In response to the first of part 6 of your request for a list of documents maintained by the SAO, please be advised that the SAO maintains the following records:

  • Administrative files and correspondence
  • Employee applications and supporting documentation
  • FOIA request and responses
  • SAO personnel records
  • Statistical Reports and time records
  • Budget work sheets and supporting documents
  • Check copies and stubs
  • Grant records
  • Criminal and civil case files
  • No probable cause case file
    In response to the second part of part 6 of your request for a “[a] description of the manner in which public records stored by means of electronic data processing may be obtained from You,” please be advised that the SAO maintains some electronic case files for its criminal and civil cases.

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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