SAO Non-Disclosure Agreements – FOIA

SAOThe Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) has clearly demonstrated an inability to be trusted to faithfully and legally respond to requests under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. We know this because we just filed our second lawsuit against the SAO for these very reasons.

In this request are seeking to determine what researchers the SAO has entered in to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with, which of any of those researchers the SAO provided criminal case level data to, and in what format they provided that data. CJP was contacted by a researcher that informed us that he currently have an active NDA with the SAO and has received case level identified criminal data from the SAO. The researcher contacted us seeking access to data we received from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office about admissions and exits from Cook County Jail.

All of this is relevant because of the statements from SAO officials saying they cannot export data from their system in a non-proprietary format and that segregating out identifying fields is too burdensome. We believe that the SAO has provided the data we are seeking in a format that is more user friendly to researchers. Despite all their claims about being transparent is is obvious that just like all other justice agencies the SAO is seeking to control their message, This is disappointing because takes away from any meaningful reforms the SAO has brought in. This is typical Chicago/Cook County slight of hand propaganda from the SAO.

FOIA Content

To: SAO

Re:  FOIA for Records related to Non-Disclosure Agreements

DEFINITIONS

“Document” and/or “Documents” means any documents or electronically stored information of any kind—including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations—stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form.

“Harvard” means Harvard University, including but not limited to the Department of Economics at Harvard University, anyone working at or for Harvard University including any graduate students working at or for Harvard University.

“Edlebi” means A.R. Edlebi or Alley Edlebi, believed to be or have been a graduate student or faculty member at Harvard University.

“NDA” or “Non-Disclosure Agreement” means any agreement between a party and CCSAO relating to the confidentiality of data compiled by (or belonging to) CCSAO. 

“CCSAO” means you and/or the Cook County State’s Attorney and/or the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office or any of its employees or agents on its behalf.

“Other Universities or Authorized Researchers” means universities, researchers, academics, computer scientists, and the like, other than Harvard or Edlebi, to whom CCSAO has produced data from its databases including the CRIMES database. 

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

FOIA A

  1. All non-disclosure agreements entered into with Edlebi.
  2. All non-disclosure agreements entered into with Harvard.
  3. The non-disclosure agreement between CCSAO (on the one hand) and Harvard or Edlebi (on the other hand) relating to the production of data from CCSAO to Edlebi.
  4. Any agreements between CCSAO and Edlebi.
  5. Any agreements between CCSAO and Harvard.
  6. Any non-disclosure agreements entered into with Other Universities or Authorized Researchers.
  7. Any agreements between CCSAO and Other Universities or Authorized Researchers relating to the production of data or data sets from the CRIMES database.

FOIA B

  1. A complete copy of the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Harvard or Edlebi (whether or not pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIA A).
  2. If you refuse, for any reason, to produce the data requested in FOIA B1, a run of the first 50 rows (in the format they were produced) for the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Harvard or Edlebi (whether or not pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIA A).
  3. If not produced in response to FOIA B1, a complete copy of the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Harvard or Edlebi pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIA A.
  4. If you refuse, for any reason, to produce the data requested in FOIAs B1-3, a run of the first 50 rows (in the format they were produced) for the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Harvard or Edlebi.
  5. For each data set produced in response to FOIAs B1-4, for any fields that contain identifying data, please detail what data is found in each field and include the field label. 
  6. All data dictionaries or any documents containing definitions of the tables and fields found within the data ) produced by CCSAO to Harvard or Edlebi.

FOIA C

  1. All documents created or received by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office relating to the non-disclosure agreement(s) between CCSAO and Harvard or Edlebi.
  2. All electronic communications, including emails, created or received by CCSAO relating to the non-disclosure agreement(s) between CCSAO and Harvard or Edlebi.
  3. Work orders, instructions, instruction sets, macros, time-card entries, or any other documents or electronic documents revealing, relating to, or detailing the work done by CCSAO or its agents or employees in order to create the data sets produced by CCSAO to Harvard or Edlebi.
  4. Correspondence, including electronic correspondence, and all attachments thereto between CCSAO and Edlebi.  If you require a date range, the range is 2010 until today.
  5. Correspondence, including electronic correspondence, and all attachments thereto between CCSAO and Harvard.  If you require a date range, the range is 2010 until today.
  6. Email between CCSAO and the email address: aedlebi@g.harvard.edu.  If you require a date range, the range is 2010 until today.

FOIA D

  1. A complete copy of the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Other Universities or Authorized Researchers (whether or not pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIAs A6-7).
  2. If you refuse, for any reason, to produce the data requested in FOIA D1, a run of the first 50 rows (in the format they were produced) for the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Other Universities or Authorized Researchers (whether or not pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIAs A6-7).
  3. If not produced in response to FOIA D1, a complete copy of the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Other Universities or Authorized Researchers pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIAs A6-7).
  4. If you refuse, for any reason, to produce the data requested in FOIAs D1-3, a run of the first 50 rows (in the format they were produced) for the data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Other Universities or Authorized Researchers pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIAs A6-7.
  5. For each data set produced in response to FOIAs D1-4, for any fields that contain identifying data, please detail what data is found in each field and include the field label. 
  6. All data dictionaries or any documents containing definitions of the tables and fields found within the data) produced by CCSAO to Other Universities or Authorized Researchers.

FOIA E

  1. All non-disclosure agreements entered into by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office between the years 2000-2021 that relate in any way to an agreement for a third party to access data from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, including but not limited to data in the CRIMES database.

FOIA F

  1. A complete copy of the data set(s) produced by CCSAO pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIA E1.
  2. If you refuse, for any reason, to produce the data requested in FOIA E1, a run of the first 50 rows (in the format they were produced) for the data set(s) produced by CCSAO pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIA E1.

FOIA G

  1. All data dictionaries or any documents containing definitions of the tables and fields found within the data produced by CCSAO pursuant to the Agreements requested in FOIA E1.

FOIA H

  1. Documents sufficient to identify the contents of the data or data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Edlebi.
  2. Documents sufficient to identify the contents of the data or data set(s) produced by CCSAO to Harvard.
  3. Documents sufficient to identify the person at CCSAO (or working on CCSAO’s behalf) most knowledgeable about the production of data or data sets to Edlebi.
  4. Documents sufficient to identify the person at CCSAO (or working on CCSAO’s behalf) most knowledgeable about the NDA between CCSAO and Edlebi or Harvard.
  5. Documents sufficient to determine the burden to CCSAO to collect and produce the data or data set(s) that CCSAO produced to Edlebi and/or Harvard.
  6. Documents sufficient to determine the last known contact information or address of persons identified in response to FOIA H3.
  7. Documents sufficient to determine the last known contact information or address of persons identified in response to FOIA H4.
  8. Documents sufficient to determine the last known contact information or address of Edlebi and anyone else involved in the transaction of data between CCSAO and Harvard.
  9. Documents, including email, sufficient to show the efforts undertaken by CCSAO to respond to the FOIA requests herein.

INSTRUCTIONS

If the agency withholds any document or information responsive to the requests made herein, please identify the document or information in as much detail as is possible, and detail in specific language every legal reason 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 other 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;

(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; and

(e) the nature of the privilege or protection;

(f) if applicable, the litigation or trial of which the document was created in anticipation.

If any Document requested herein has been lost, discarded, or destroyed, each such Document should be identified as completely as possible, including as to each such Document, 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, 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.      

Responses

1/24 Dear Ms. Bond: 

I am happy to agree to a five-day extension, with the following understanding. 

I take your letter as an explicit representation that you are making an “extensive search for the records responsive to” my requests.  From this representation, I trust that you will be able to find, and produce, responsive records.   I do not agree to the treatment of my request as a “voluminous” request. Actually, I am seeking a limited number and focused set of records of CCSAO’s dealings with Harvard researcher A. Edlebi, and any similar dealings with similar researchers, with whom I believe CCSAO has shared electronic records. 

The number and wording of the requests is comprehensive, because my prior experience is that CCSAO has found unauthorized or even illegal ways to deny my prior requests for information, requiring me to undertake burdensome litigation to get the records, and I have therefore intentionally left as little room to deny or avoid this set of requests as possible. But as I believe you have already previously provided most or all of the records I am seeking to Mr. Edlebi, you can thus satisfy much of my FOIA request by simply giving me the same documents, agreements and records that you have already shared with Mr. Edlebi.   If it would help to have a telephone conversation to better understand the records I am seeking, or why I believe they exist and should be easy to collect and produce, I would be happy to schedule such a call with you. Regards.

1/20 VIA EMAIL

Tracy Siska Chicago Justice Project
105 W. Madison St., Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60604
tsiska@chicagojustice.org

Re: FOIA Request dated 01/11/21

Dear Mr. Siska:

I am responding to the request for documents under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) statute that was sent on Monday, January 11, 2021 via e-mail and received by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (the “SAO”) on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. I am submitting the statutory request for a five-day extension for one of the following reasons:

( ) the requested records are stored in whole or in part at other locations than the office having charge of the requested records;

( ) the request requires the collection of a substantial number of specified records;

( X ) the request is couched in categorical terms and requires an extensive search for the records responsive to it;

( ) the requested records have not been located in the course of routine search and additional efforts are being made to locate them;

( ) the requested records require examination and evaluation by personnel having the necessary competence and discretion to determine if they are exempt from disclosure under Section 7 of this Act or should be revealed only with appropriate deletions;

( ) the request for records cannot be complied with by the public body within the time limits prescribed by paragraph (c) of this Section without unduly burdening or interfering with the operations
of the public body;

(X) there is a need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another public body or among two or more components of a public body having a substantial interest in the determination or in the subject matter of the request.

In addition, to the statutory 5-day extension, this letter will serve as notice that your request is being treated as a voluminous request. Under the statute, a “voluminous request” means a request that: includes more
than 5 individual requests for more than 5 different categories of records or a combination of individual requests that total requests for more than 5 different categories of records in a period of 20 business days. 5 ILCS 140/2(h). In your request, you have requested 8 different categories of records with multiple subcategories. In addition, you are being made aware that this being treated as voluminous request consistent with the requirements of section 3.6 of the Statute. 5 ILCS 140/ 3.6 (a).

If you have any additional questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully submitted,

KIMBERLY M. FOXX
State’s Attorney of Cook County

BY: /s/: Glori C. Bond_______________
Glori C. Bond
FOIA Officer
Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
50 West Washington, Room 500
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Author: Tracy Siska

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

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