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July 18, 2024

Bureau County Board Prohibited Citizens From Video Recording Meeting –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 10, 2024

Bureau County, Ill. (ECWd) –

Bureau County held a county board meeting earlier this year, in the county courthouse, and when residents attempted to enter the courthouse with their cell phones to attend and record the meeting they we stopped by court security and told they could not enter the building with their phones.

This was purportedly on orders of the Sheriff, and the county board knew, or should have known, this was an issue and that prohibiting any person from attending a public meeting with their cell phones violates the Open Meetings Act.

Violations of the Open Meetings Act are a Class C Misdemeanor.

When I submitted a FOIA request to the Sheriff, his assistant “didn’t know” what happened and was not aware of the issue.

As for the OMA violations, if the county cannot have a meeting in the courthouse AND have people attend that meeting with their cell phones or other recording devices, the county board is legally obligated to find another location to hold their meetings where residents can attend with their cell phones and recording devices. This is not optional.

The Sheriff can permit or prohibit cell phones and recording devices all he wants; however, the board has the obligation to hold their meetings in a suitable and convenient location. If that means no more meetings in the courthouse, so be it.

We reached out to the Bureau County State’s Attorney but have not received a response as of publication.

There is another county board meeting tomorrow night, June 10, 2024.

 

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6 Comments
  • Dave
    Posted at 20:41h, 10 June Reply

    Good grief….. the corruption never ends. Public meetings have to be open to the public!

  • Mike
    Posted at 06:42h, 11 June Reply

    I suppose it could be argued people were not prohibited from recording with a video camera, just that it can’t be a cell phone.

    • John Kraft & Kirk Allen
      Posted at 18:23h, 11 June Reply

      Doesn’t matter – they have a right to record with an antique film camera if they have one.

  • Darrel W Bruck Jr
    Posted at 10:36h, 11 June Reply

    The Sheriff in Kankakee County has done the same thing when the county board held a meeting in the court house! The next time this happens I will file a complaint and if I have to sue them.

    • John Kraft & Kirk Allen
      Posted at 18:24h, 11 June Reply

      WHen did it happen?

  • Bruce DeLashmit
    Posted at 09:29h, 12 June Reply

    I’ve encountered this a few times over the years and generally it is a misdirected application of rules issued by the presiding judge. The presiding judge issues a “no cell phones” order for the court / courthouse which they can do as part of the judiciary. However, the security screening should be informed that the prohibition does not apply to the public attending county meetings not associated with the court. Simple instructions to the deputy will usually suffice in fixing the problem.

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