The following is republished from Illinois Leaks
McHenry Court Quashes Algonquin Township’s attack on Media and First Amendment –
UPDATE: Copy of Court Order inserted at end of article.
Today, the McHenry County Circuit Court granted our Emergency Motion To Quash a subpoena from Algonquin Township directed at Dropbox, to obtain access to our Dropbox account.
We asked to quash all future subpoenas for the same information, but the Court refused the proactive quash stating they cannot quash something that has not been filed yet.
Nevertheless, today’s granting of our Motion should send a message to Algonquin Township that they have overstepped their authority.
As if attempting to censor a video of Karen Lukasik, the Township Clerk, along with another person, who was allowed to freely rummage through a desk and other files, which we published, and the township demanded YouTube take it down wasn’t enough for them to realize they have no legal authority to do such a thing, the Trustees and Supervisor of Algonquin Township have levied another attack on the rights of media to be a free and independent media, unmolested by government actors.
As it relates to the YouTube video, they didn’t even have the backbone to ask us to take it down. Instead, they slithered over to YouTube without informing us.
YouTube apparently told them it would not be taken down because it is still available.
During their January 9, 2019, Closed Session meeting, Township Attorney James Kelly told the board, and they agreed, that he would send out the subpoena for our Dropbox entitled “Algonquin Township.”
This is found in the redacted portion of their published executive session minutes:
“He also discussed Edgar County Watchdogs vs. Algonquin Township and Road District, 18CH238, and advised the Board that subpoena would be issued for the Dropbox.“
Supervisor Charles Lutzow, Trustees Dan Shay, Dave Chapman, Melissa Victor, and Rachael Lawrence, and Attorney James Kelly were present during this closed session.
- Jan 9, 2019 – Told the Board he would issue a subpoena for the Dropbox
- Jan 23, 2019 – Kelly had subpoena notarized
- Jan 28, 2019 – Kelly had a subpoena issued in the State of California Superior Court
- Feb 4, 2019 – Kelly filed the notarized subpoena in McHenry County Circuit Court
- Kelly never mailed or emailed a copy of the subpoena to our attorney or to us
- Kelly allegedly mailed or emailed copies to Rob Hanlon (Road District Attorney), Attorney Thomas “Personally I like big breasts” Gooch who is not a party to this case, and to Attorney Steve Brody who is also not a party to this case
Kelly told our attorney he would reissue the subpoena at a future date.
Since learning of this underhanded and unethical attempt at issuing a subpoena without notifying the opposing party and violating well-established rules for such a subpoena, we filed an “Emergency Motion to Quash Defendant’s Subpoena And Any Future Subpoenas To The Dropbox URL Identified Herein”
In our Motion to Quash, we explain the subpoena:
- Violates the Reporter’s Privilege (735 ILCS 5/8-902)
- Lacks relevance to the subject matter of the lawsuit
- Is outside the cope of the lawsuit (unwarranted fishing expedition)
- Fails to comply with local rules
It is our understanding that Algonquin Township wants to know who provides us with information (nothing gives them the power or right to know that) and they also think if they can prove we already have some of the documents we requested under FOIA that they would not need to provide them to us (wrong again).
Instead of simply complying with the Freedom of Information Act, Algonquin Township keeps spending tax money for their attorney to file frivolous Motions and improper subpoenas to try and peer into our operations in the dark of night, like what a creepy Peeping Tom would do in a residential neighborhood.
While the Township board continues to fight the production of records in our FOIA case, Kelly is embroiled in two separate motions to disqualify him as the attorney in Township cases due to conflicts, and a complaint to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (“ARDC”).
We will continue our fight for the public records withheld by Algonquin Township.
The Township could, of course, simply provide the requested records and quit wasting taxpayer funds fighting what they cannot win.
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The legal situation might be discussed at tonight’s Algonquin Township Board meeting.