Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Attorney-Client Privilege Exists in Public Body Context

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Attorney-Client Privilege Exists in Public Body Context

Article excerpt

In a split decision, the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, has held that the attorney-client privilege applies to documents that a public body provided to the state's Attorney General in a request for a legal opinion. The court's decision in Illinois Education Assn v. Illinois State Board of Education, 762 N.E.2d 1190 (Ill.App. 2002), allowed the board to protect the documents from disclosure under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

The court's majority opinion, by Justice McCullough, applied an exemption within the Illinois FOIA to protect from disclosure a letter in which the board's general counsel requested the attorney general's legal opinion on whether the board and the state's teacher certification board had authority to hear cases involving applicants for teaching certificates who had child support or paternity proceedings pending against them. The Illinois Education Association filed a request for the documents the board had given the AG when it asked for the legal opinion. After the board declined to turn over the letters, the association sought a declaratory judgment that it was entitled to the materials under the FOIA. The board prevailed in the trial court on its motion for summary judgment.

Applying the attorney-client privilege to the requested documents, the court's majority noted that the FOIA exempted from disclosure any communications between an attorney and a public body that would not be subject to discovery in litigation. …

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