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September 22, 2014, 11:16 am
970 WMAY News

Judge Schmidt Rules Public Can ''Taste Toothpaste'' And View Old IA Files; City Demands Trial


The City of Springfield is demanding a trial and asking the court for strict proof of many accusations leveled by plaintiff Calvin Christian in the ongoing IA file shred case.

 

The city also claims Christian and his attorneys knew in advance the file retention policy was about to change and filed Freedom Of Information Act requests in hopes of getting a payout.

 

In a filing Friday, attorneys for the city deny accusations from Christian, including that the Police Chief ordered the destruction of internal affairs files after having already received a request for those files.

 

In the filing the city also says they deny willfully violating the Local Records Act. 

 

The four pronged defense states the city's reliance on legal advice from Mark Cullen, the former city corporation counsel. They also say that the public policy of retention is not part of the FOIA law.

 

In their answer, the city also claims the plaintiff consorted with his attorneys in hopes of financial gain.

 

Meanwhile in a separate case where the Police Union brought suit against the city, Judge John Schmidt says the public has a right to taste the toothpaste and are allowed to do so in this case.

 

The Springfield Police Union brought a suit against the city over files the city has not destroyed, files that are much older than the either 4 or 5 year retention policy provided by their contract, saying that keeping the files violates their contract and the city should be kept from releasing the files.

 

In their suit, the union says releasing the files would do irreparable harm and that "once it's out, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."

 

In his ruling Judge Schmidt says "The Illinois Freedom of Information Act guarantees citizens the right to see that toothpaste, taste it, and determine whether or not we like it."

 

Some of that toothpaste is also a 2005 Illinois State Police investigation into Springfield Police Detectives Paul Carpenter and Jim Graham.

 

It's unclear what's next for those files or if the union will appeal.

 

The next step in the IA file shredding FOIA saga is for Judge John Behlz to decide on if plaintiff Calvin Christian should be compelled to answer questions from the city about who helped in crafting the FOIA.

 

That hearing Thursday very well could raise the questions of reporter privilege in keeping confidential sources.

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