Amicus Brief Filed with Supreme Court of Michigan in Support of State FOIA Request in Wrongful Detention Case

American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan v. Calhoun County Sheriff's Office


September 10, 2021

The American Immigration Council filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Michigan in support of a detained individual’s request to review a Court of Appeals decision denying him the right to access records under the Michigan state Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”)Calhoun County had refused to produce records to the United States citizen requester in response to his state FOIA request for information regarding his wrongful detention. Calhoun County relied on a federal regulation, 8 CFR § 236.6, to withhold records that otherwise would be released under the Michigan state FOIA because the requester was in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detention. 

State open records laws are important tools to hold ICE and local jails accountable for their treatment of individuals in immigration detention. Often, documents maintained by state and local law enforcement agencies are the only way to obtain information about how these entities operate and how they treat people in their custody. ICE has a well-documented history of abusive and illegal enforcement practices including mistreatment of individuals held in its detention facilities as well as unlawful detention of U.S. citizens. 

The American Immigration Council filed this amicus with several other organizations. 

On February 4, 2022, the state’s Supreme Court found that Calhoun County improperly withheld the records relating to the plaintiff’s wrongful detention, marking a victory for transparency in the state. The Court held that a federal regulation, such as the one raised by the County to block access to the records in question, cannot serve as the basis for exempting these records from disclosure under the specific wording of Michigan’s state FOIA. Calhoun County submitted a request for the Michigan Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, and a decision from the Court on this request is pending.

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