FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: 10th Circuit Rules on Contractor-Held Records

FOIA News (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

Contractor-Held Docs Not Covered by FOIA, 10th Circ. Rules

Daniel Wilson, Law360, Jan. 8, 2017

The U.S. Forest Service was not legally obligated under the Freedom of Information Act to cough up to an environmental group land swap agreement documents that were held by third-party contractors and never seen by the agency, the Tenth Circuit ruled Friday.

Although the disputed documents were created as part of contractual work for the Forest Service, they were neither created by nor used by the agency, and therefore were not “agency records” required to be provided to Rocky Mountain Wild Inc., a three-judge panel ruled [. . .]

Read more here (subscription required).

See copy of court opinion here.

Court opinions issued Jan. 4, 2018

Court Opinions (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Gatore v. DHS (D.D.C.) -- ordering in camera review after finding that agency's supplemental declarations failed to sufficiently explain whether agency released all non-exempt segregable material from asylum assessments.

James Madison Project v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) FBI properly relied on Exemption 7(A) in refusing to confirm or deny the existence of synopsis of Trump-Russia Dossier and related records; and (2) CIA, NSA, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence properly withheld synopsis pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 3, and properly refused to confirm or deny existence of remaining records pursuant to same exemptions.  Notably, the court rejected plaintiff's arguments that statements made by President Trump and former executive branch officials precluded summary judgment in government's favor.      

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.


FOIA News: FOIAs filed for DOJ's police reform records

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Civil rights organizations ask for info on Justice Department’s police reform work

By Matt Zapotosky, Wash. Post,  Jan. 4, 2018 

A group of civil liberties organizations is asking the Justice Department to turn over documents on its efforts to expose and force changes at troubled police departments — efforts which have been significantly curtailed since Jeff Sessions took over as attorney general.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the ACLU sent three Freedom of Information Act requests to the department Thursday — asking for documents on civil rights investigations and reform agreements with law enforcement agencies and all correspondence the department’s Community Oriented Policing Services office has had with those agencies and police unions.

Read more here.

FOIA News: MuckRock on FOIAing the Trump Administration

FOIA News (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

FOIAing the Trump Administration: resources for your 2018 requests

Frank Matt, MuckRock, Jan. 3, 2018

In 2017, FOIA requests contributed valuable oversight to the Trump administration. If you’re wondering where to start this new year, imitating successful requests is an easy way to get the ball rolling. 2017 also yielded many repositories of calendars, travel records, ethics pledges, and other documents that you can mine for FOIA request ideas. For the first week of 2018, we rounded up resources that can springboard your efforts to FOIA the Trump administration.

This year, hold the Trump administration accountable by filing a records request of your own with the agency, following MuckRock’s “FOIA the Trump Administration” project, and joining our Slack channel to share ideas and get help with your requests. If you have a Trump administration related FOIA you would like us to highlight, share it over emailTwitter, or Facebook and we may include them in the next roundup.

Read more here.