Court sides with news media in FOIA ruling

Jun 12, 2012

A court ruling has been issued in connection with Illinois' Freedom of Information Act. At question is whether text messages city council members send each other during open meetings are public record. A judge says they are.

The decision stems from a lawsuit involving the city of Champaign. Laura Hall is an attorney who represents the city.  She says the messages should be private.

"The public record has to be a communication that pertains to public business that's been used or received by or in the possession of, or the control of the public body" Hall said. "We argue that a communication sent to an individual council member is not the public body, they're an individual."

The Champaign News-Gazette asked for text messages sent between city council members during meetings. Don Craven is an attorney who represents the paper. He says the public has a right to know how decisions in government are made.

"Voters are entitled to hear the deliberations, not just the decisions, but the deliberations of members of public bodies. Texts during city council meetings are the deliberations" Craven said.

The city of Champaign says it will appeal the court's decision.