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Judge Rules on City Council Text Messages

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A judge in Illinois said electronic messages between city representatives sent during an open meeting should be public record.

The matter went to court when city of Champaign denied a newspaper's request for electronic communications among city council members sent during the board's meetings.

The judge sided with the Champaign News-Gazette, saying the records are public even if they were sent on personal phones and e-mail accounts.

"To sit there and type notes to each other during the city council meeting and pretend that there's some element of privacy in that when it clearly relates to the administration of that public body and the business before that public body is silly," said attorney Don Craven, who represented the newspaper.

"That's a public record, we're entitled to it, and the court has now so ordered."

The Illinois Attorney General supported the newspaper's position.

But an attorney for the city said two individuals do not make up a "public body" under the open-records law. Therefore, she said, those communications are not government records.

Champaign said it will appeal the decision.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio

 

Rich is TSPR's News Director.