NEWTON, IL. (ECWd) -
I requested, in a recent Freedom of Information Act request, copies of the policy on collection of fees for public records, collection of fees for photographs taken of public records on a private electronic device, and copies of any county board approvals for such policies.
This request came after a Jasper County land owner was humiliated, illegally arrested, and forced to provide his name when he submitted a FOIA request to the County Clerk. Nothing in the FOIA allows a public official to demand the name of the requester, but that is what happened after he refused to pay the illegal demand for payment of 50 cents for two pictures he took of public records on his own personal electronic device.
Jasper County State's Attorney, Chad Miller, responded to the FOIA request by stating that "there is none" when answering the request for the policy approving costs of copies of county clerk's records, for the policy authorizing the county clerk to receive payment for pictures of public records taken on personal electronic devices, and for copy of the county board approval to the previous two policies.
He also denied my request for copies of police incident reports from the Sheriff's Department when they arrested the individual who simply wanted to file a FOIA request. Claimed it would impede a law enforcement investigation - never mind the fact I already have copies from the individual who was arrested.
He denied copies of the 911 or other phone calls seeking assistance from the Sheriff's Department - as if there was any legal reason for that denial. He denied others because of "privacy" like he has never heard of redactions.
What this State's Attorney should be doing is filing criminal charges against the Jasper County Clerk for imposing illegal fees on people for taking photographs of public records. We believe the applicable statute would be Official Misconduct and Intimidation, which are both felonies if found guilty.
I have asked the State's Attorney to direct the county clerk to return the 25 cents she extorted from me. I feel like a victim.