Illinois Court Rules Police Misconduct Complaints are Public

On March 10, 2014, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in Jaime Kalven v. City of Chicago, 2014 IL App (1st) 121846 that police misconduct complaints and their investigations are public information and can no longer be kept secret by the Chicago Police Department.

In November 2009, the plaintiff, Jamie Kalven, an award winning journalist, made Freedom of Information Act requests to the Chicago Police Department, seeking two types of documents: (1) lists of Chicago police officers who accumulated the most police misconduct complaints in the entire City, commonly referred to as “repeater lists”; and (2) Complaint Register files, commonly referred to as “CRs,” related to the City’s completed factual investigations into allegations of official police misconduct against five officers charged with a pattern of abuse. After the City denied the requests, Mr. Kalven filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The central issue in the case was whether records relating to police misconduct are public information under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The Appellate Court’s rejection of the City’s arguments that the requested documents are exempt from disclosure under certain provisions of FOIA, is a watershed moment in the ongoing fight for police accountability and governmental transparency in Illinois.

Mr. Kalven is represented by a team of civil rights lawyers, including Ben Elson and Flint Taylor from People’s Law Office.  As part of our continued commitment to fighting against police brutality and misconduct, we recognize the importance of the public’s access to information regarding police abuse.

Illinois Appeals Court Ruling
Kalven v. City of Chicago, 2014 IL App (1st) 121846

Media coverage of the ruling

Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tribune
CBS Chicago
Think Progress

For more information on our work fighting for police accountability, visit this page: Police Brutality

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