(5 ILCS 140/11)
(from Ch. 116, par. 211)
(a) Any person denied access to inspect or copy any public
record by a public body
may file suit for injunctive or
(a-5) In accordance with Section 11.6 of this Act, a requester may file an action to enforce a binding opinion issued under Section 9.5 of this Act.
(b) Where the denial is from a public body of the State, suit
may be filed in the circuit court for the county where the public body has
its principal office or where the person denied access resides.
(c) Where the denial is from a municipality or other public
body, except as provided in subsection (b) of this Section, suit may be filed
in the circuit court for the county where the public body is located.
(d) The circuit court shall have the jurisdiction to enjoin the public
body from withholding public records and to order the production of any
public records improperly withheld from the person seeking access. If the
public body can show that exceptional circumstances exist, and that the
body is exercising due diligence in responding to the request, the court
may retain jurisdiction and allow the agency additional time to complete
its review of the records.
(e) On motion of the plaintiff, prior to or after in camera
inspection, the court shall order the public body
to provide an index of the records to which access has been denied. The
index shall include the following:
(i) A description of the nature or contents of each
document withheld, or each deletion from a released document, provided, however, that the public body shall not be required to disclose the information which it asserts is exempt; and
(ii) A statement of the exemption or exemptions
claimed for each such deletion or withheld document.
(f) In any action considered by the court, the court shall consider the
matter de novo, and shall conduct such in camera examination of the requested
records as it finds appropriate to determine if such records or any part
thereof may be withheld under any provision of this Act. The burden shall
be on the public body to establish that its refusal to permit public inspection
or copying is in accordance with the provisions of this Act. Any public body that asserts that a record is exempt from disclosure has the burden of proving that it is exempt by clear and convincing evidence.
(g) In the event of noncompliance with an order of the court to disclose,
the court may enforce its order against any public official or employee
so ordered or primarily responsible for such noncompliance through the court's
(h) Except as to causes the court considers to be of greater importance,
proceedings arising under this Section shall take precedence on the docket
over all other causes and be assigned for hearing and trial at the earliest
practicable date and expedited in every way.
(i) If a person seeking the right to inspect or receive a copy of a public
record prevails in a
proceeding under this Section, the court shall award such
person reasonable attorney's fees and costs. In determining what amount of attorney's fees is reasonable, the court shall consider the degree to which the relief obtained relates to the relief sought. The changes contained in this subsection apply to an action filed on or after January 1, 2010 (the effective date of Public Act 96-542).
(j) If the court determines that a public body willfully and intentionally failed to comply with this Act, or otherwise acted in bad faith, the court shall also impose upon the public body a civil penalty of not less than $2,500 nor more than $5,000 for each occurrence. In assessing the civil penalty, the court shall consider in aggravation or mitigation the budget of the public body and whether the public body has previously been assessed penalties for violations of this Act. The court may impose an additional penalty of up to $1,000 for each day the violation continues if:
(1) the public body fails to comply with the court's
(2) the court's order is not on appeal or stayed; and
(3) the court does not grant the public body
additional time to comply with the court's order to disclose public records.
The changes contained in this subsection made by Public Act 96-542 apply to an action filed on or after January 1, 2010 (the effective date of Public Act 96-542).
(k) The changes to this Section made by this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly apply to actions filed on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly.
(Source: P.A. 99-586, eff. 1-1-17; 99-642, eff. 7-28-16