BGA Legal Action
UPDATED: December 2013
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013—The Better Government Association files complaints — with the state agency that regulates lawyers — against three current and former public-sector attorneys for alleged ethical transgressions.
Nov. 1, 2013—The Better Government Association files paperwork with the courts showing support for a pending pro-transparency lawsuit against the Illinois attorney general. The suit came after the state agency refused to release public records in a more accessible electronic format.
Oct. 30, 2013—The Better Government Association, with two media groups, asks for court permission to file an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit against the Kendall County state’s attorney after prosecutors argue they shouldn't have to submit to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
June 18, 2013—The Better Government Association sues Pace, the suburban bus agency, for violating the Illinois Freedom of Information Act by failing to turn over payroll data in a usable format as requested. The case, in Cook County Circuit Court, is pending.
May 14, 2013—The BGA filed a lawsuit in state court accusing the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office of violating the Illinois Freedom of Information Act by refusing to accept document requests via email. The BGA ultimately reached a settlement with the recorder's office, which agreed to start accepting FOIA requests electronically, and pay some attorney fees and costs.
March 26, 2013—The BGA filed a lawsuit in state court against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for refusing to provide, under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, names and addresses of people who have sought her appointment to government boards and commissions. The case is pending.
Aug. 21, 2012—The BGA filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against the Village of Maywood, alleging officials there violated the Illinois Freedom of Information Act by refusing to turn over a copy of a grand jury subpoena. The court ultimately ordered that it be produced and the village complied.
June 28, 2012—The BGA filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba for failing to turn over, under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, documents showing how his teenaged son used a confidential law enforcement data system through the sheriff's office. The case is pending.
May 7, 2012—The BGA filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against the Village of Maywood for trying to drag out a request (by mischaracterizing it as a "commercial" request rather than one made for news-gathering purposes) for documents under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The village ultimately turned over records.
March 22, 2012—The BGA filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Pace, the suburban bus agency, alleging it violated the Illinois Freedom of Information Act in refusing to turn over documents related to bus accidents, and alcohol and drug testing of bus drivers. The case is pending.
Jan. 5, 2012—The BGA filed a court document formally supporting the appointment of an independent "special prosecutor" to investigate the death of a Mount Prospect man nearly eight years ago, allegedly at the hands of a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, and a possible cover-up by police and the state’s attorney’s office. A judge later appointed a veteran lawyer to serve as the outside investigator.
Dec. 5, 2011—The BGA filed a lawsuit challenging the Chicago Police Department’s refusal to release documents showing where tactical units were deployed. The city ultimately turned over documents.
Nov. 8, 2011—The Illinois Department of Transportation was sued for releasing a locked (and therefore difficult-to-navigate) electronic spreadsheet of red-light camera data to a man seeking the records under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The man found his pro bono attorney at a BGA clinic designed to help regular folks with open-records requests. IDOT lost the case in Cook County Circuit Court, and on appeal.
Sept. 15, 2011—Several Maywood residents sued their village in Cook County Circuit Court over alleged violations of the state’s open records law. The residents met their attorney at a grassroots event sponsored by the BGA. Maywood officials ended up turning over documents after initially denying that some even existed.
Jan. 5, 2011—The BGA filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court to compel the Chicago Police Department to release information about the size and cost of the security detail assigned to Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th). The city ultimately turned over the data, and the suit was dropped.
Oct. 7, 2010—After the BGA’s attorneys threatened to sue the Chicago Police Department, the agency released records relating to the death investigation of Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott.
Aug. 3, 2009—The BGA filed a lawsuit in federal court against an Ohio-based partisan political group that named itself the "Better Government Association." That group eventually changed its name as part of a legal settlement.
July 15, 2009—The BGA sued Cook County government in circuit court to force officials to turn over cell phone records of then-Board President Todd Stroger. The county eventually turned over the material.
Jan. 4, 2007—The BGA sued Illinois’ state government in Sangamon County Circuit Court to force then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to release federal subpoenas issued to his administration. Officials eventually turned them over.
January, November 1999—The BGA sued former Governor and Illinois Secretary of State George Ryan in federal court and later Cook County Circuit Court over the licenses-for-bribes scandal, which ended up sending Ryan to prison.