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Lucas v. Prisoner Review Board

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

October 24, 2013

SHAUN B. LUCAS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
PRISONER REVIEW BOARD; KENNETH D. TUPY, Freedom of Information Officer, Prisoner Review Board; and LISA WEITEKAMP, Freedom of Information Officer, The Department of Corrections, Defendants-Appellees.

Held [*]

The trial court properly dismissed the complaint of a convicted sex offender against the Prisoner Review Board and freedom of information officers of the Board and the Department of Corrections, alleging violations of the Freedom of Information Act based on the failure of the Board and the Department to release documents plaintiff sought, including documents in his “master file” held by the Department, since the records plaintiff sought were exempt from disclosure under the Act.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lee County, No. 10-MR-66; the Hon. Daniel A. Fish and the Hon. Jacquelyn D. Ackert, Judges, presiding.

Shaun B. Lucas, of Bridgeview, appellant pro se.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, and Timothy K. McPike, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellees.

Justices Hudson and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

McLAREN JUSTICE

¶ 1 Plaintiff, Shaun B. Lucas, appeals from the trial court's June 22, 2011, order dismissing, with prejudice, his complaint against defendants, the Prisoner Review Board (PRB), Kenneth D. Tupy, and Lisa Weitekamp, alleging violations of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 5 ILCS 140/1.1 et seq. (West 2010). We affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 On April 9, 1999, Lucas was convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (720 ILCS 5/12-14.1(a)(1) (West 1998)). He was sentenced to a term of 12½ years' imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC). As part of a prerelease sex-offender evaluation, a report was generated that included an excerpt from a letter written by the fiancé of the victim. The letter was originally sent to the PRB. The PRB forwarded a copy to the DOC and it was placed in Lucas's "master file."

¶ 4 Lucas then decided to sue the letter's author for libel. On August 18, 2010, Lucas filed under the FOIA a request that the PRB allow him to inspect "[a]ny and all progress reports submitted to the [PRB] via [the DOC] Clinical Services." Additionally, he requested that he be allowed to inspect "[o]bjection letters from the victim, her fiancé, relatives and friends, and from the State."

¶ 5 In response, Tupy, the PRB's information officer, denied the first request pursuant to sections 1610.30(b)(1)(A) and (b)(2) of title 20 of the Illinois Administrative Code (20 Ill. Adm. Code 1610.30(b)(1)(A), (b)(2) (1985)). Section 1610.30(b)(1)(A) provides that the PRB can deny evidence to inmates where the evidence is specifically found to include information that, if disclosed, would damage the therapeutic relationship between the inmate and a mental health professional. Additionally, section 1610.30(b)(2) provides that the PRB will not provide direct access to any documents submitted to it that bear the signature of a mental health professional or clinical services employee of the DOC.

¶ 6 Tupy denied the second request pursuant to section 1610.30(b)(1)(B) of title 20 of the Illinois Administrative Code (20 Ill. Adm. Code 1610.30(b)(1)(B) (1985)) and section 7 of the FOIA (5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a), 7(1)(c)(vii), (7)(1)(e) (West 2010)). Tupy's response stated that "section 7(1)(a) provides the information is specifically prohibited from disclosure by federal or state law or rules and regulations adopted under federal or state law."

¶ 7 Additionally, on August 18, Lucas requested that the DOC provide him a copy of the victim's objection letter, which had been forwarded to the DOC from the PRB. On August 25, Weitekamp, the DOC's information officer, denied Lucas's request for the objection letter pursuant to section 3-5-1(b) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Corrections Code), which provides that "[a]ll files shall be confidential and access shall be limited to authorized personnel of the respective Department. Personnel of other correctional, welfare or law enforcement agencies may have access to files under rules and regulations of the respective Department." 730 ILCS 5/3-5-1(b) (West 2010). Weitekamp also relied on section 7(1)(a) of the FOIA, which exempts from inspection and copying "[i]nformation specifically prohibited from disclosure by federal or State law or rules and regulations adopted under federal or State law." 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a) (West 2010).

¶ 8 Lucas filed a four-count complaint in the trial court, seeking: (1) a declaratory judgment that the objection letter was not exempt from production under the FOIA and was accessible to Lucas as a public record (count I); (2) a declaratory judgment that the clinical services report was not exempt from production under the FOIA and that Lucas had a right to review the document (count II); (3) injunctive relief stating that Lucas was entitled to inspect and copy all public records (count III); and (4) a writ of mandamus ordering defendants to provide the requested documents for Lucas to review, copy, or challenge (count IV). He also sought monetary damages, attorney fees, and reimbursement of costs. Regarding the letter, Lucas sought "full disclosure of this record for the purpose of initiating civil litigation against it's [sic] author for the common law tort of libel." Further, Lucas asserted that "[t]his information is necessary to the prosecution of [his] suit for libel, both to perfect his ...


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