Chicago - Apr. 17, 2019
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Judge Orders Rahm To Justify Cop Academy Secrecy

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall ruled Friday in favor of a Motion to Reconsider her December decision allowing Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration to withhold over 400 pages of documents related to the proposed Cop Academy.

Debbie Southorn and Erin Glasco, the plaintiffs and organizers with #NoCopAcademy, previously filed several FOIA requests seeking information regarding Emanuel's plans to build the excessively costly venture which many believe is wholly unnecessary and will not decrease police violence that destroys the lives of scores of Black and Latinx people in Chicago.

As she read prepared notes in court this morning, Hall's ruling made clear that the city has not given the court enough information about how the mayor makes decisions.

Further, her ruling places the burden of the argument for whether Emanuel can hide behind the deliberative process privilege in withholding over 400 pages of documents squarely on the Mayor's Office.

On July 3rd, 2017, the mayor announced his decision to build the cop academy, including the precise location, that it will include indoor & outdoor facilities, and that it will have a whole host of other provisions which clearly indicate that he himself had made this decision.

"It's affirming to see that the court recognized the immense public interest in this case, and granted this rare Motion to Reconsider," Southorn said. "Continuing to hide these documents, even as he has just days left in office, Mayor Emanuel is upholding his legacy of ruling with a strong-arm and choosing secrecy over public input."

After filing the FOIA suit, city lawyers provided Southorn, Glasco and #NoCopAcademy close to 150 documents previously withheld improperly, but attorneys for Emanuel previously convinced the court that the remaining 400-plus documents are shielded from disclosure by the "deliberative process privilege."

Hall's ruling today to grant the Motion to Reconsider its decision comes in light of federal case law regarding this privilege, as well as the heightened public interest in the value and worth of the academy.

Emanuel and his administration could easily waive the privilege and release the documents (like they did after they were forced to release the Laquan McDonald video). Instead, he continues to chose secrecy and lack of transparency in his final days in office.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 22, 2019


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