Kelly Liebmann Wins Freedom of Information Suit Against McHenry County

Kelly Liebmann

Using the  pseudonym “Reality Check,” on January 17, 2020, Greenwood Township Trustee Kelly Liebmann’s filed a Freedom of Information request with McHenry County.

She asked for

“copies of records of electronic entrance cards for Kevin Craver and Bridget Geene[n] from January 2019 to present.”

February 3rd, McHenry County Board Chairman and licensed attorney Jack Franks himself replied.

He refused to provide the information requested.

The reason given?

Revealing the information would “endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel or any other person.”

April 28, 2020, was McHenry County Blog’s first article on Liebmann’s suit against McHenry County:

McHenry County Hit with Freedom of Information Violation Suit for Denial of Information about Electronic Building Entrance and Exit Data for Jack Franks’ Patronage Employees

Kevin Craver’s mid-afternoon changing of the message on Jack Franks’ campaign office sign.

Perhaps the photo of Kevin Craver’s changing the words on McHenry County Board Chairman’s Route 47 campaign sign inspired the request.

Libmann’s attorney Joshua Burday pointed out,

“The cited exemption only applies to ‘records in the possession of any public body created in the course of administrative enforcement proceedings, and any law enforcement or correctional agency for law enforcement purposes.'”

Further, that McHenry County is not law enforcement body, plus the records were not kept for law enforcement purposes.

And, finally, no “’detailed factual basis’ for how release of electronic entrance card records would endanger anyone’s safety” was supplied in Franks’ response.

June 8th of last year, McHenry County Blog wrote about the State’s Attorney’s reply to Liebman’s FOIA suit.

County Replies to Kelly Liebmann’s Suit for Jack Franks’ Patronage Employees Work Time Records

In the reply, Patrick Kenneally’s office was unwilling to admit that “Reality Check” was Kelly Liebmann.

It reiterated the contention that revealing when the two employees came and went from the office would endanger their lives (a particularly humorous assertion with regard to Craver, who retired from the Army).

As Kenneally’s office put it, in its “First Affirmative Defense,”

disclosing the requested records would reveal their patterns of movement and make them more susceptible to the person
issuing the threats and more likely that the threats could be acted upon.

No threats were listed.

On November 25th, after Jack Franks had been defeated for re-election by Republican Mike Buehler, he filed a document in the suit.

Part follows:

(That loop at the lower right above is part of Jack Franks’ huge signature.)

In rebuttal, Liebmann attorney Merrick J. Wayne states,

These statements are not supported by an affidavit, and to accept these statements as is would amount to “rubber stamp judicature.”

It is Defendant’s burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that an exemption applies.

Clearly, Defendant has failed to meet its burden.

Summary judgment was requested.

In his February 1, 2021, order, Judge Michael Chmiel dealt with Jack Franks’ last minute submission with this footnote:

In his decision, finding for Liebmann, the Judge concluded,

Attorney’s fees were not awarded.

= = = = =

Past requests for such information about other county employees have been fulfilled without objection.


Kelly Liebmann Wins Freedom of Information Suit Against McHenry County — 12 Comments

  1. Have the two patronage workers been set free from the county payroll yet?

  2. Kelly has not done great in elections, but her record in lawsuits has been pretty impressive.

    Last year she shut out Ken Shepro, the chairman of the Kane County Republican Party, and now she just won this case where McHenry County State’s Attorney Pat Kenneally and then-County Board Chairman Jack Franks were on the other side of her.

    In this case she had an attorney, but she defended herself against Shepro (an attorney himself) without a lawyer.

  3. No mention of legal fees or anything for Liebmann…unlike when Pete Gonigan’s First Electric Newspaper filed against Sheriff Keith Nygren concerning his Chief Deputy Andy Zinke.

  4. How does this first amendment right hurt anyone?

    I call B.S. …

  5. About time we taxpayers learned the fate of Craven Craver and Goofy Geenan.

    Did Jacko sign them to tenured positions from which they can continue to milk the county?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  6. Seems to be a normal course of action for Governmental officials and their Lawyers who represent them!

    I filed a FOIA in September, 2020.

    Attorney David McCardle – the City of McHenry’s Lawyer stated my request was “overburdening”.

    But yet, he quickly engaged another Lawyer in his firm to represent the City along with him and bill the City even more $$$.

    While he claimed it was “overburdening” to the City’s resources, I stated they could simply hire a contractor for much much less than adding another Attorney from his firm to work on it!

    I was forced to meet with him and the city FOIA person to “pair down” my request.

    He stated to me “well you are threatening to sue the City”, I said, “No, that is not a threat, that is a fact”.

    I was assured after that meeting in October that I would receive the documents.

    Again, he failed to send them and ignored every single eMail to him – each eMail copied the Mayor, all City Council members, and the Chief of Police as well.

    A few weeks ago I received a package that failed to include a thumb drive of the information…

    More to come!

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