FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2023
CONTACT: John W. Kieken, 708-302-5332
First Court Victory in Ongoing Legal Battle to Protect Will County from NorthPoint Blight
Appellate Court Slaps Down Joliet in FOIA Case
Joliet, IL – Joliet’s appeal of the Will County Circuit Court ruling in the Kieken v. Joliet FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) case was slapped down in a scathing ruling by the Illinois Appellate Court on October 17, 2023. This is a huge victory for all citizens who have a right to oversee their elected officials by requesting government information through the FOIA process. Attorney Richard Linden did a most excellent job securing this victory for Kieken.
The ruling states in part, “… the City urges us to find plaintiff was not entitled to any attorney fees. The City characterizes this issue as one of statutory construction but fails to provide the pertinent statutory language or discuss the statutory construction principles supporting its theory. And although the City cites one published case in support of its position, it fails to discuss that case in any way. In fact, the City fails to submit any reason for its theory. … This court “is not a repository into which an appellant may foist the burden of argument and research.” Obert v. Saville … Accordingly, we find the City has forfeited this argument by failing to comply with Rule 341(h)(7).”
It goes on to state, “… the City had all the necessary information when plaintiff submitted his FOIA request; … plaintiff’s lawsuit was reasonably necessary to obtain the requested documents.”
“Unsatisfied with the court’s decision to reduce hours, the City urges us to eliminate all fees requested in connection with the TRO motion. This we will not do. The City released the first traffic study only two days after plaintiff filed his TRO motion, which directly challenged the City’s denial of plaintiff’s FOIA request. The TRO motion was thus reasonably related to the case’s ultimate outcome. We will not disturb the fee award as it relates to the TRO motion.”
Kieken sued Joliet to produce any traffic or environmental studies when those FOIA requests were denied. Thanks to this lawsuit, just before the 2021 annexation hearing, Joliet produced a “Draft” traffic study that indicated there would be an additional 70,000 vehicles/day on a 4,000-acre warehouse complex. Joliet further claimed that no traffic or environmental studies exist aside from this one “draft” study that Joliet Attorney Chris Regis called “obsolete”.
This is the same lawsuit that pointed out Joliet City Counsel’s hypocrisy by requiring a traffic study before approving a Dunkin’ Donuts at Six Corners, while this billion-dollar, 6-square-mile, warehouse facility had no such requirement before approval. Kieken ultimately won the FOIA case in Will County Circuit Court in 2022, which included an award of attorneys’ fees. Joliet appealed the decision and it was argued in the 3rd Appellate Court on September 11, 2023 in Ottawa, IL.
The Appellate Court hearing is posted here:
For more information or to contribute to the Stop NorthPoint legal fund, please visit the website at www.stopnorthpoint.com
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