Livingston County State's Attorney Seth Uphoff
By Todd Wineburner
Livingston County State’s Attorney Seth Uphoff recently argued a case at the appellate level that could have established a precedent, but the appellate court is not going to rule in the case. A Livingston County murder trial that ended in a conviction is the source of the issue. A Freedom of Information Act request for documents from that trial was rejected by Uphoff, who argued that the judicial branch is explicitly exempted under FOIA. The individual requesting the information argued that a prosecutor’s office is only technically a part of the judiciary, and that functionally, it’s a policy-oriented agency that should be subject to FOIA requests. After Uphoff refused the initial request, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a non-binding opinion that said the documents should be released. Uphoff argued the case at the appellate level a few weeks ago hoping to establish a precedent that would definitively define the judiciary’s obligation to FOIA requests. Because Madigan’s opinion wasn’t binding, however, the judges are arguing that there’s nothing for them to rule on, because no order has been issued. The question remains unresolved until further action is taken and a ruling handed down. Uphoff says the individual requesting the information has never explained what he or she plans to do with it.