Duncan Publishing v. City of Chicago was a case before Illinois First District Appellate Court, fifth division in 1999 concerning a request for lists of records in the possession of the city and a list of the manner in which those records are stored.
This case affirmed that even if a public records request was met outside of court, an individual could still be entitled to attorney fees if he filed suit in a timely manner.
- On January 11, 1996, Duncan made a public records request of the city of Chicago for "a reasonably current list of all types or categories of records under the control of the City of Chicago, reasonably detailed in order to aid persons in obtaining access to public records," as well as the manner in which an individual could obtain electronic records in a non-electronic format. In a second request on the same date, Duncan petitioned for the records of all denied record requests after July 1, 1984 and an index of those denied requests. The Illinois Freedom of Information Act requires that the city keep copies of all of these documents on had.
- On January 29, 1996, after having not received a response to his original request, Duncan submitted an appeal to the Mayor of Chicago. The mayor did not respond to the request.
- On February 13, 1996, Martin Stack, the City's FOIA officer, notified Duncan that his request was being compiled and that it would be ready within a week.
- On March 8, 1996, Duncan filed suit in circuit court, claiming that the city had failed to respond to the request within the seven day time limit established by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. He also sought to compel the city to hand over the documents.
- On April 26, 1996, after the suit had been filed, the city notified Duncan that his request would be ready by May 10. This led to a series of communications which culminated in the release of all of the records Duncan had requested by May 22, 1997.
- On August 5, 1997, the circuit court ruled in favor of the city.
- Duncan appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
The circuit court ruled in favor of the city, claiming that the requests was overly large and that the city did its best to accommodate. They thus determined that Duncan had no right to attorney fees.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court for the most part, however, remanded the decision of attorney fees back to the court of appeals.
The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court in stating that the full release of the documents had rendered moot Duncan's first two contentions concerning the release of the documents. The court also agreed with the trial court in denying Duncan's request for fines because the city had violated the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The court felt that the city had fulfilled its obligation to maintain a record by maintaining one in each department. However, the court did feel that Duncan could possibly have a right to attorney fees and thus overturned the lower courts summary decision and remanded the decision on attorney fees to the circuit court. Thus, the court upheld the majority of the decision and overturn and remanded in part.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ruling of the Court