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Court opinions issued Aug. 21, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Villar v. FBI (D.N.H.) -- concluding that pro se plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies with respect to his request concerning third party, and that FBI failed to submit adequate information to permit review of records withheld concerning plaintiff.  

Demoruelle v. Dep't of Veterans' Affairs (D. Haw.) -- granting pro se plaintiff's claim for waiver of fees, which agency did not dispute in litigation, and granting litigation costs but not attorney's fees.  

Francis v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- finding that Executive Office for United States Attorneys performed a reasonable search for certain records concerning his prosecution for conspiring to kill a federal official.  

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.  

 

FOIA News: Critics Argue that Getting NASA to Comply with FOIA is a 'Nightmare'

Kevin SchmidtComment

Getting NASA to Comply With Simple FOIA Requests Is a Nightmare

By Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler, Motherboard, August 22, 2017

NASA often refuses to complete Freedom of Information Act requests using the excuse that it is "unclear what specific NASA records you are requesting."

Trying to effectively use the Freedom of Information Act can be hell. Maybe a police department will demand a ridiculous and seemingly arbitrary fee to collect records, or perhaps an agency simply won't respond to requests.

Judging by Motherboard's own requests as well as those from Freedom of Information organizations, one government body in particular stands out for turning FOIA requests into a nightmare: NASA.

Read more here.

Court opinions issued Aug. 17-Aug. 18, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Aug. 18, 2017

Carlson v. USPS (N.D. Cal.) -- determining that Postal Service improperly withheld names, titles and email addresses of certain agency employees pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 6.

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. IRS (D.D.C.) -- ruling that tax returns of President Trump were not subject to disclosure without his written consent, which plaintiff failed to submit.

Aug. 17, 2017

Bush v. USDA (N.D. Iowa) -- finding that agency conducted adequate search for records of soybean and corn yields within four townships in Iowa, and that any arguably responsive records were protected pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with 7 U.S.C. § 1502(c)(1).

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.  

FOIA News: Court dismisses futile request for Trump's tax returns

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Federal court can't force IRS to release Trump's tax returns

By Megan R. Wilson, The Hill, August 18, 2017

A federal judge on Friday said that the court could not compel the IRS to turn over President Trump’s tax returns. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) launched a suit against the IRS earlier this year after the agency refused to hand over the documents as part of an open-records request.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, EPIC had sought Trump’s personal tax returns from 2010 to the present day and any documents that may reveal financial relationships with the Russian government or Russian businesses.

However, personal tax forms are confidential. They can only be obtained if Trump himself gave the IRS permission to reveal the returns or if Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation signed off to allow the disclosure.

Read more here.  

FOIA News: Court dismisses futile request for Trump's tax returns

Allan BlutsteinComment

Federal court can't force IRS to release Trump's tax returns

By Megan R. Wilson, The Hill, August 18, 2017

A federal judge on Friday said that the court could not compel the IRS to turn over President Trump’s tax returns. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) launched a suit against the IRS earlier this year after the agency refused to hand over the documents as part of an open-records request.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, EPIC had sought Trump’s personal tax returns from 2010 to the present day and any documents that may reveal financial relationships with the Russian government or Russian businesses.

However, personal tax forms are confidential. They can only be obtained if Trump himself gave the IRS permission to reveal the returns or if Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation signed off to allow the disclosure.

Read more here.  

Court opinions issued Aug. 16, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Parker v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that attachment to already-produced letter was responsive record even though it pertained to subject unrelated to request;  further ruling that Exemptions 5 and 7(C) protected portion of document addressing reasons for employee's discipline but not agency's disciplinary procedures or information in public domain.

Labow v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that FBI properly withheld disputed records pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with Pen Register Act and Rule 6(e) of Federal Rule Criminal Procedure.

Cornucopia Inst. v. Agric. Mktg. Serv. (D.D.C.) -- determining that agency conducted adequate search for certain investigatory records concerning organically-produced agricultural products and that it properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption5 and 7(C).

Legal Landmark Found. v. Dep't of Labor (D.D.C.) -- holding that plaintiff was precluded by collateral estoppel from bringing suit seeking records "evincing the use of" improper private electronic communications by certain agency employees, because same request to different agency was found by court to be inadequately described.  

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.