from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 14MR1438 Honorable
Leslie J. Graves, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Steigmann and Appleton concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 In November 2015, the trial court granted a motion by
defendant, the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC), to
dismiss plaintiff, Kenneth Cebertowizc's, first amended
complaint, which alleged violations of the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) (5 ILCS 140/1 to 11.5 (West 2014)).
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, appeals, arguing the
trial court erred in granting DOC's motion to dismiss. We
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 Plaintiff is serving a 50-year sentence for first degree
murder and a concurrent 4- year sentence for aggravated
discharge of a firearm. At the time he filed his complaint,
plaintiff was housed at Lawrence Correctional Center
4 In November 2014, plaintiff filed a FOIA request with DOC.
Plaintiff sought copies of four of Lawrence's
institutional directives and DOC's "Administrative
Directives that pertain to vocational wait list priority and
interstate compact transfers and any other documents/policy
on interstate compact transfers." DOC's FOIA
officer, Lisa Weitekamp, responded by letter, providing
copies of two of the institutional directives requested and
advising the other two did not exist. DOC denied the
remainder of plaintiff's request, stating section
7(1)(e-5) of FOIA (5 ILCS 140/7(1)(e-5) (West 2014))
"exempts the release of '[r]ecords requested by
persons committed to [DOC] if those materials are available
in the library of the correctional facility where the inmate
is confined' " and advising those requested
documents were maintained in Lawrence's law library.
5 In December 2014, plaintiff filed a FOIA complaint in the
trial court, naming Weitekamp as the sole defendant.
Plaintiff alleged he was "illegally denied" the
documents he requested pursuant to FOIA because, when he
requested copies of the documents, the law librarian at
Lawrence advised him "it was policy that Administrative
Directives cannot be copied *** because [FOIA] states that
copies 'may' be made." Plaintiff argued section
3(a) of FOIA states, "Each public body shall make
available to any person for inspection or copying all public
records." 5 ILCS 140/3(a) (West 2014). He maintained the
legislature's use of the word "shall" indicated
a mandatory requirement and, therefore, DOC had "no
discretion" and "[i]f a person requests copies, the
public body is required to provide them." In April 2015,
DOC filed a motion to dismiss, alleging Weitekamp was not a
"public body" and, therefore, not a proper party to
a suit filed pursuant to section 11 of FOIA (5 ILCS
140/11(a), (b), (d) (West 2014)). In July 2015, the court
entered an order dismissing the complaint and allowing
plaintiff 30 days to replead.
6 In August 2015, plaintiff filed a two-count first amended
FOIA complaint, naming DOC as defendant. The first count
repeated the allegations in his original complaint regarding
his FOIA request, DOC's response, and his inability to
procure copies of the requested documents from Lawrence's
law library. The second count related to plaintiff's FOIA
request regarding the "FY2016 Master Menu, " which
DOC denied on the basis the material was available in
Lawrence's law library. Plaintiff stated the law library
in turn refused to provide him with copies under its policy
not to provide copies of material exempted by section
7(1)(e-5) of FOIA (5 ILCS 140/7(1)(e-5) (West 2014)).
Plaintiff requested (1) DOC provide him the FOIA records he
requested, (2) DOC train all institutional law library staff
and FOIA officers in FOIA procedures, (3) the trial court
order payment of costs, and (4) the court order any further
relief the court deemed just and proper.
7 In September 2015, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to
file a second amended FOIA complaint and attached the second
amended FOIA complaint, which included two additional counts.
Later that month, plaintiff filed a motion to strike the
second amended complaint. (The record is devoid of any order
regarding plaintiff's second amended complaint or the
motion to strike it. However, after dismissing the first
amended complaint, the trial court ordered the case closed
and terminated the proceedings.)
8 In September 2015, DOC filed a motion and memorandum
seeking dismissal of plaintiff's first amended complaint
pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735
ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2014)). DOC argued plaintiff failed to
state a claim for relief because (1) the materials requested
fell under the exemption set forth in section 7(1)(e-5) of
FOIA (5 ILCS 140/7(1)(e-5) (West 2014)), (2) the documents he
requested were available for inspection in Lawrence's law
library, (3) he never claimed the documents were unavailable
for inspection at the law library, and (4) as such, those
materials remain available to him pursuant to FOIA.
9 In October 2015, plaintiff filed a response to DOC's
motion to dismiss, contending DOC was attempting to
"change the rules of grammar in an effort to mislead the
court as to what [FOIA] requires a public body to disclose
and how to disclose it." Plaintiff argues whether the
materials are inspected or copied is "the choice of the
requestor, not the public body" and "[t]he public
body must comply with the requestor's choice."
10 In November 2015, plaintiff moved to supplement his
response to the motion to dismiss, arguing, in addition to
his rights under FOIA, he also had a common-law right to the
11 On November 17, 2015, the trial court held a hearing by
telephone. The court granted DOC's motion to dismiss,
finding "plaintiff fail[ed] to state a claim for relief
as documents are available for his ...