Government Records Illinois: Where to Obtain Government Records for the State of Illinois?
The State of Illinois has an open government law as per the Illinois FOIA (Freedom of Information) Act, 1989. This act was updated in 2010 and became effective in 2012. According to the laws laid down in the act, the people are guaranteed the right of accessing & inspecting a reasonable number of public records.
Information & documents (of all types) of both local and State government bodies are presumed public & can be obtained by U.S citizens. The court, however, can seal documents and limit public access under a few circumstances- one of which is juvenile and adoption records or settlement agreements between parties that aren’t filed with the court, etc.
Public records of the State of Illinois typically cover data from a total of 102 counties. Since the digitization of the same, these records have been available to the public with increased reliability. Thus, ensuring that the state abides by the commitment of the U.S. to be a fair society for all.
The list below will guide you and make you aware of the modes of obtaining the government records for the State of Illinois:
- To obtain a record in person, visit https://bit.ly/37jhIG9 & find the Circuit Clerk’s office of the courthouse where the court case in question was filed. You can either provide the Clerk with the case number to see the file or if you don’t know the number, most clerks have the provision of searching by name (to retrieve the case number) on their computers. Suppose the clerk doesn't have a computer, you can then look up the ledger book of the clerk. If you don’t want to involve a clerk, simply access a public computer at the courthouse. A fee may be levied if you want printed copies of the records.
- For above 60 counties in the State of Illinois, https://www.judici.com/ provides access to online government records. In most cases you won’t have access to the documents filed but, the docket entries will give you the basic information about the case, its results, what happened on particular court dates, etc.
- You can also request all non-exempt records under IL FOIA. It is recommended by the Illinois Attorney General to make the requests in writing to immediately activate time limits & appeal processes, post submission. Within 5 working days from the date of the request submission, the government agencies will either comply with the request or deny access to public records.
- If you want to maintain anonymity, be it of identity or reason for collecting government records, visit https://illinois.staterecords.org/. Searching on this website does not involve time-consuming procedures like filling out request forms. This website will not give you access to the records that have been deemed private by the court of law but. However, the state background covers the court, vital, criminal, and additional public records.
The request for government records letter must contain the following, to the minimum:
- A statement of acknowledgment that the request is being made under the IL FOIA.
- Your name and contact information
- A thorough description and specifics of the records that you’re requesting
You can seek guidance from a sample FOIA request letter at https://www.nfoic.org/illinois-sample-foia-request.
What is the next step if your request is denied?
Both compliance with and denial of the request for records is possible. Ensure that the agency sends you the denial in written format, mentioning on what legal basis they’ve claimed their denial as justified. So, what do you do next? Here are your options:
- Get in contact with the Public Access Counselor’s office for the required assistance
- Appeal to the head of the public body (refer to, https://bit.ly/2vfTr5X )
- Enforce compliance by filing a lawsuit in court (refer to, https://bit.ly/3ayKtAH )