(5 ILCS 140/9.5)
    Sec. 9.5. Public Access Counselor; opinions.
    (a) A person whose request to inspect or copy a public record is denied by a public body, except the General Assembly and committees, commissions, and agencies thereof, may file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor established in the Office of the Attorney General not later than 60 days after the date of the final denial. The request for review must be in writing, signed by the requester, and include (i) a copy of the request for access to records and (ii) any responses from the public body.
    (b) A person whose request to inspect or copy a public record is made for a commercial purpose as defined in subsection (c-10) of Section 2 of this Act may not file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor. A person whose request to inspect or copy a public record was treated by the public body as a request for a commercial purpose under Section 3.1 of this Act may file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor for the limited purpose of reviewing whether the public body properly determined that the request was made for a commercial purpose.
    (b-5) A person whose request to inspect or copy a public record was treated by a public body, except the General Assembly and committees, commissions, and agencies thereof, as a voluminous request under Section 3.6 of this Act may file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor for the purpose of reviewing whether the public body properly determined that the request was a voluminous request.
    (c) Upon receipt of a request for review, the Public Access Counselor shall determine whether further action is warranted. If the Public Access Counselor determines that the alleged violation is unfounded, he or she shall so advise the requester and the public body and no further action shall be undertaken. In all other cases, the Public Access Counselor shall forward a copy of the request for review to the public body within 7 business days after receipt and shall specify the records or other documents that the public body shall furnish to facilitate the review. Within 7 business days after receipt of the request for review, the public body shall provide copies of records requested and shall otherwise fully cooperate with the Public Access Counselor. If a public body fails to furnish specified records pursuant to this Section, or if otherwise necessary, the Attorney General may issue a subpoena to any person or public body having knowledge of or records pertaining to a request for review of a denial of access to records under the Act. To the extent that records or documents produced by a public body contain information that is claimed to be exempt from disclosure under Section 7 of this Act, the Public Access Counselor shall not further disclose that information.
    (d) Within 7 business days after it receives a copy of a request for review and request for production of records from the Public Access Counselor, the public body may, but is not required to, answer the allegations of the request for review. The answer may take the form of a letter, brief, or memorandum. The Public Access Counselor shall forward a copy of the answer to the person submitting the request for review, with any alleged confidential information to which the request pertains redacted from the copy. The requester may, but is not required to, respond in writing to the answer within 7 business days and shall provide a copy of the response to the public body.
    (e) In addition to the request for review, and the answer and the response thereto, if any, a requester or a public body may furnish affidavits or records concerning any matter germane to the review.
    (f) Unless the Public Access Counselor extends the time by no more than 30 business days by sending written notice to the requester and the public body that includes a statement of the reasons for the extension in the notice, or decides to address the matter without the issuance of a binding opinion, the Attorney General shall examine the issues and the records, shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and shall issue to the requester and the public body an opinion in response to the request for review within 60 days after its receipt. The opinion shall be binding upon both the requester and the public body, subject to administrative review under Section 11.5.
    In responding to any request under this Section 9.5, the Attorney General may exercise his or her discretion and choose to resolve a request for review by mediation or by a means other than the issuance of a binding opinion. The decision not to issue a binding opinion shall not be reviewable.
    Upon receipt of a binding opinion concluding that a violation of this Act has occurred, the public body shall either take necessary action immediately to comply with the directive of the opinion or shall initiate administrative review under Section 11.5. If the opinion concludes that no violation of the Act has occurred, the requester may initiate administrative review under Section 11.5.
    A public body that discloses records in accordance with an opinion of the Attorney General is immune from all liabilities by reason thereof and shall not be liable for penalties under this Act.
    (g) If the requester files suit under Section 11 with respect to the same denial that is the subject of a pending request for review, the requester shall notify the Public Access Counselor, and the Public Access Counselor shall take no further action with respect to the request for review and shall so notify the public body.
    (h) The Attorney General may also issue advisory opinions to public bodies regarding compliance with this Act. A review may be initiated upon receipt of a written request from the head of the public body or its attorney, which shall contain sufficient accurate facts from which a determination can be made. The Public Access Counselor may request additional information from the public body in order to assist in the review. A public body that relies in good faith on an advisory opinion of the Attorney General in responding to a request is not liable for penalties under this Act, so long as the facts upon which the opinion is based have been fully and fairly disclosed to the Public Access Counselor.
(Source: P.A. 97-579, eff. 8-26-11; 98-1129, eff. 12-3-14.)