Journal Courier Sues Village of South Jacksonville Over FOIA Denial

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 8, 2021 at 9:25pm

The Village of South Jacksonville is being sued over a FOIA request.

The Jacksonville Journal Courier filed a lawsuit against the Village of South Jacksonville late Wednesday in Morgan County Circuit Court.

According to a report by the Journal Courier on the filing of their own suit, the complaint alleges the village denied requests for records under the Freedom of Information act pertaining to any possible police reports involving Village Mayor Tyson Manker or former Village Trustee Jason Hill.

According to the report, the request was made on June 4th that included “any calls for police service or assistance to Village Hall [since] May 1st”.

The Journal Courier alleges that the village denied the request on June 21st, after seeking an extension of time to answer. According to the report, the village said the records were exempt from public disclosure as reason for denying the request.

The village also reportedly denied a request for reconsideration by the Journal Courier which had claimed “the exemption cited was not applicable”.

Village Mayor Tyson Manker told WLDS News this evening that the village had not been served with the lawsuit until near the close of business today. Manker says “I cannot comment on a lawsuit I have not seen.”

Manker says the Journal Courier reached out to him for comment prior to publishing their story on the lawsuit.

The Journal Courier is being represented by attorney Donald Craven of Springfield. According to his website, the Craven law is a general practice law firm with a concentration in media and government law.

As previously reported by WLDS News, former Trustee Todd Warrick said in a statement following his resignation as Trustee, that a verbal confrontation at the South Jacksonville Village Hall occurred between Hill who was still a Trustee at the time, and Manker on May 10th.

According to Warrick’s account, the Village filed a police report over the incident. Manker said in a public email following the release of Warrick’s letter that Hill attempted to goad Manker into a physical altercation. Warrick accused Manker of making comments to Hill during the altercation that were “very unethical”.

Manker later dropped the complaint against Hill with Village Police Chief Eric Hansell. Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll told WLDS News that after review of the police report, there was insufficient evidence of any crime occurring that would constitute alleged disorderly conduct or alleged official misconduct.