DeKalb, IL. (ECWd) -
UPDATE In the case of Haji-Sheikh v NIU Board of Trustees:
On March 29, 2018 Judge Bradley Waller entered a decision in Haji-Sheikh v NIU. The Court found that Misty Haji-Sheikh substantially prevailed and that NIU has to pay her lawyer's fees and court costs. The Court specifically explained that NIU could have avoided going to court once NIU had made aware of the Open Meetings Act issue and chose to proceed to court. The Court awarded Haji-Sheikh $55,946.00 plus court costs of $932.89.
And Judge Waller stated that NIU 'Rolled the proverbial dice and lost. Consequences flow from such decisions'.
NIU has paid the $ 56,878.89 required by Judge Waller to Haji-Sheikh's lawyer, Charles Philbrick of Rathje and Woodward.
There will be no appeals. This case is closed.
Haji-Sheikh stated that "This is not the first time NIU has been sued over not following the Open Meetings Act. In 2001 the Editors of the Northern Star sued see http://northernstar.info/city/editors-niu-settle-suit-over-meeting/article_9c3e677a-a53d-5d2b-a71b-24181cd434fe.html
And recently another case filed by Sid Kincade.
In an interview Haji-Sheikh stated
"It is a shame that citizens must take action to insure that the Open Meetings Act is followed so that the public is being properly served by those appointed or elected to governing bodies. Without the Open Meetings Act, actions happen in the dark. Citizens deserve public bodies that follow the law."
"In an Open Meetings Act case such as this it isn't about winning money - I believe that the law precludes a person filing this kind of suit from receiving any money. Nor would I have asked for a penny. The important part is for governing bodies, such as the Board Of Trustees, to be vigilant in their actions to make sure the laws are being followed at all times."
"Again I would like thank the Edgar County Watchdogs assisted in initially identifying the OMA violation and assisted in locating an attorney who would prosecute the lawsuit on my behalf. I would also like to thank my lawyer Charles L. Philbrick. and his law firm Rathje and Woodward."