Chicago Taxpayers Could Be on the Hook for 6-Figure Penalty in Public Records Dispute

By Stefan Holt and Shelby Bremer, NBC Universal Media, September 21, 2022

A Cook County judge on Wednesday ordered the city of Chicago to turn over discovery records by Thursday afternoon in a legal dispute that could potentially leave taxpayers on the hook for a six-figure penalty – and could have been avoided if the city had followed the law. The case centers on a Freedom of Information Act request filed by activist William Calloway in November 2019 after Chicago police officers hit Martina Standley with a squad car, pinning her under the vehicle. Standley suffered a traumatic brain injury from the incident. She died earlier this year.

Last week, Judge Allison Conlon ruled to sanction the city over its failure to turn over discovery documents, or even respond to multiple motions. Conlon said in part that she had “no indication” as to why, with regard to her order to produce the documents by July 29 of this year, “not one finger was lifted, not one document was produced, after even I have expressed some frustration with how much time this was taking.”  If the city is found to have willfully violated the law in withholding records, the fine could be more than $700,000 plus legal fees.

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