FOIA Advisor

Testing

Court Opinions

Dates of decisions below.  For additional sources of FOIA case law, see "Federal court cases" in Useful Links.

Apr. 20, 2017

Prince v. NLRB (S.D. Ohio) -- holding that agency was not required to create records in order to answer plaintiff's legal questions.

Coffey v. Bureau of Land Mgmt. (D.D.C.) -- determining that: (1) agency was not required to pay interest on processing fees that were refunded to plaintiff; and (2) agency failed to adequately search for records of communications between two named employees and contractors concerning agency's "Wild Horse and Burro Program."

Shapiro v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- finding that FBI properly relied on Exemption 7(E) to withhold reports generated by "Accurint" database even though agency's use of database was public knowledge.  

Apr. 19, 2017

Stevens v. DHS (N.D. Ill.) -- ruling in "reverse FOIA" case that U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement's decision to disclose portions of plaintiff's bid and contract was not arbitrary and capricious. In reaching it decision, the court rejected plaintiff's arguments that the contract was not responsive to the request or that ICE was required to show how disclosure would not cause competitive harm to plaintiff.

Apr. 17, 2017

Am. Ctr. for Law & Justice v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- dismissing requester's "policy or practice" claim that alleged agency had an "impermissible practice, policy, and pattern of [intentionally issuing] untimely and noncompliant FOIA responses," but otherwise allowing "basic FOIA challenge related to one particular request" to proceed.

Apr. 12, 2017

Offor v. EEOC (2nd Cir.) (summary order) -- affirming district court's denial of plaintiff's requests for attorney's fees and costs, Special Counsel to investigate agency, and injunction regarding plaintiff's future FOIA requests.

Apr. 7, 2017

Plunkett v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- granting government's summary judgment motion because Federal Bureau of Prisons released all records concerning plaintiff's criminal case that were at issue.

Apr. 5, 2017

Reddick v. U.S. Dep't of Energy (E.D. Wash.) -- dismissing case as moot because agency -- prior to scheduled bench trial -- released disputed document in full to plaintiff and agreed to pay all litigation costs. 

Smith v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (D. Colo.) -- finding that plaintiff, an immigration attorney, had standing to litigate claim that agency has pattern and practice of denying FOIA requests that might assist fugitive aliens.   

Apr. 4, 2017

Prisology, Inc. v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that plaintiff lacked standing to litigate agency's alleged violation of 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2).

Mar. 31, 2017

Justice v. Mine Safety & Health Admin. (S.D. W. Va.) -- denying plaintiff's bid for attorney's fees and costs because he failed to show that disclosure resulted in public benefit or that agency withholdings were unreasonable.  

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury (D.D.C.) -- ruling that Treasury performed a reasonable search for email between three agencies and Hillary Clinton's personal email address, rejecting plaintiff's argument that Treasury should have searched all employee email accounts instead of limiting to senior employees.

Smith v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) CIA conducted adequate search for records concerning uranium shipments to Israel, and that agency justifiably declined to search its operational files; (2) agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3, 6, 7(C), and 7(E); and (3) circumstances did not allow plaintiff to amend Complaint in order to add DOJ as defendant. 

Shapiro v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- in case involving request to FBI for records concerning Nelson Mandela, determining that: (1) FBI properly relied on Exemptions 1, 3, 7(A), and 7(D) to withhold requested records, but did not justify all withholdings made pursuant to Exemptions 5, 7(C), and 7(E); and (2) FBI did not provide sufficient information to allow court to decide whether agency properly withheld certain records as nonresponsive to request.  Notably, the court stated that the FBI's general practice was consistent with D.C. Circuit precedence.  It further observed that "[i]f an agency was forced to turn over a full manual or entire report every time a single page contained a responsive term, the amount of time, labor, and cost that would be required to review this purportedly 'responsive' material for exemptions would be exponential, hindering the agency's ability to process multiple requests efficiently or allocate its resources effectively."

Hunton & Williams LLP v. EPA (D.D.C.) -- ruling that EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of the Army conducted adequate searches for records concerning an industrial site in California, but that none of them established the propriety of their withholdings pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 6.

Tushnet v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (D.D.C.) -- concluding that ICE failed to conduct adequate search for various records concerning counterfeit apparel, and that agency failed to justify the applicability of Exemption 7(E) to industry guides used by agents to detect counterfeit apparel.

Mar. 30, 2017

Smith v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- rejecting agency's use of Glomar response in connection with request for line-item budget information reflecting support of Israel, because President Obama acknowledged  existence of records in 2015 public statement. 

Patino-Restrepo v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys conducted adequate search for records concerning plaintiff's prosecution and properly withheld information pursuant to Exemptions 5, 6, and 7(C); (2) Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted adequate search and properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 6, 7(C), and 7(E); (3) Federal Bureau of Prisons conducted adequate search for records concerning plaintiff's incarceration and properly withheld information pursuant to Exemptions 6, 7(C), and 7(F); (4) Department of State conducted adequate search and properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 1, 5, 6, 7(A), 7(C), 7(E), and 7(F); and (5) DOJ Criminal Division properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 5, 6, 7(C), and 7(D); (6) Drug Enforcement agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 7(A), 7(C), 7(D), 7(E), and 7(F); and (7) FBI properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 7(A).  

Harrison v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys (S.D. Cal.) -- deciding that FOIA officer's telephone conversation with U.S. Attorney's office about existence of responsive records was insufficient to establish adequacy of search.

Mar. 29, 2017

Pinson v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- finding that FBI: (1) conducted adequate searches in response to five of nine contested requests; (2) properly withheld records under Exemptions 3, 7(C), and 7(D); and (3) failed to adequately explain the basis for withholding records pursuant to Exemption 7(A). 

Morley v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- ruling plaintiff was not entitled to attorney's fees concerning his request for certain Kennedy assassination records because agency's withholdings were reasonable.

Mar. 28, 2017

Smith v. Sessions (D.D.C.) -- concluding that FBI conducted reasonable search for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case, properly withheld information under Exemptions 5, 7(A), 7(C), and 7(E), and released all reasonably segregable information.

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. DOD (D.D.C.) -- finding that government properly withheld five memoranda concerning raid, capture, and/or killing of Osama bin Laden pursuant to Exemption 1, Exemption 3 (National Security Act of 1947), and Exemption 5 (deliberative process, attorney-client, and presidential communications privileges). 

King v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) Office of Solicitor General performed reasonable search for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case; (2) plaintiff failed to administratively appeal FBI's determination; (3) Drug Enforcement Agency performed reasonable search and properly withheld records under Exemptions 7(C), 7(D), 7(E), and 7(F); and (4) Executive Office for United States Attorneys improperly relied on mere existence of district court sealing order to withhold plaintiff's criminal case file.

Borda v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- determining that Executive Office of United States Attorneys failed to show it performed adequate search for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case and failed to explain why non-exempt portions of plea agreements could not be released.  

Passmore v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) FBI performed adequate search for requested email between plaintiff and his murder victim; (2) plaintiff was not entitled to waiver of fees associated with request; and (3) agency properly withheld responsive information under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(E). 

Thomas v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- holding that Executive Office of United States Attorneys failed to adequately explain how the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia searched for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case. 

Mar. 27, 2017

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (S.D.N.Y.) -- finding that: (1) FBI, National Security Division (NSD), and CIA failed to perform adequate searched for requested records concerning Executive Order 12,333; (2) all Exemption 5 withholdings by Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) were proper, and some but not all Exemption 5 withholdings by CIA, NSD, and Nat'l Security Agency were proper; (3) all but one document was properly withheld under Exemptions 1 and 3 by NSD, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, FBI, NSA; and (4) OLC, FBI, and NSD properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 7(D) and (7(E).

Debrew v. Atwood (D.D.C.) -- determining that Federal Bureau of Prisons performed an adequate search for records concerning the promulgation of a disciplinary regulation.  

Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project v. DHS (S.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that agency properly relied upon Exemptions 5 and 7(E) to withhold portions of "trip reports" regarding refugee applicants.

Mar. 24, 2017

Lucaj v. FBI (6th Cir.) --  reversing district court decision and remanding for further proceedings after concluding that documents exchanged between DOJ Criminal Division and foreign governments could not be protected under Exemption 5 because they do not meet the "inter-agency" or "intra-agency" threshold.

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. Customs and Border Protection (D.D.C.) -- granting government's renewed summary judgment motion after finding that agency properly withheld disputed records were pursuant to Exemption 7(E).  

Mar. 23, 2017

Ocasio v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd. (D.D.C.) -- dismissing case after concluding that MSPB had released all records requested by plaintiff, except for ALJ hearing notes that had been routinely destroyed prior to request. 

Apotosky v. FBI (N.D. Ohio) -- finding that: (1) plaintiff abandoned his FOIA claim against Executive Office for United States Attorneys, and (2) FBI established that all requested records were produced, unidentifiable, or exempt.

Turner v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury (E.D. Cal.) -- ruling that Financial Crimes Enforcement Network conducted a reasonable search for four requested items, but that it improperly invoked Exemption 3 (Bank Secrecy Act) without actually searching for fifth item of requested records.   

Henson v. HHS & FDA (S.D. Ill.) -- determining that government performed a reasonable search for requested records and properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemptions 4, 5, and 6.

Mar. 21, 2017

Cohens v. FBI (N.D. Cal.) -- dismissing pro se prisoner's complaint (with leave to amend) because it failed to allege that plaintiff "made a request to the FBI, that a request was denied, or that records were improperly withheld."

Mar. 20, 2017

McCash v. CIA (N.D. Cal.) --  finding that FBI properly relied upon Exemption 7(E) to withhold records showing how agency uses an investigative database.

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- ruling that State Department improperly relied upon deliberative process privilege to withhold factual summaries within two documents concerning  September 11, 2012 attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Mar. 15, 2017

Rozema v. HHS (2nd Cir.) -- summarily affirming district court's decision that FDA's records concerning quantity of menthol in cigarettes by brand is protected by Exemption 4.

Mar. 13, 2017

Jett v. FBI (D.D.C.) -- concluding that: (1) FBI failed to prove that it performed adequate search for records within ELSUR indices; (2) plaintiff was entitled to limited discovery as to whether a search for records in CRS also constitutes search for records in ELSUR indices; and (3) FBI properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemptions 7(C) and 7(E).

Comp. Enter. Inst. v. OSTP (D.D.C.) -- holding that agency was not required to search employee's non-official email account because employee complied with policy to forward all work-related email from such account to an official OSTP email account. 

Freedom of the Press Found. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (N.D. Cal.) -- finding that: (1) FBI performed a reasonable search for records concerning issuance of national security letters ("NSLs") to obtain information about media; and (2) FBI properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3 (National Security Act of 1947). 5, and 7(E).  

Mar. 9, 2017

De Sousa v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) CIA properly refused to confirm or deny existence of various records concerning kidnapping of Abu Omar pursuant to Exemption 1; (2) State Department properly issued a partial Glomar response in order to protect classified information; (3)  Department of Defense needed to supplement record as to whether it expressly adopted a draft letter as final agency policy.

Mar. 8, 2017

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- stating that "[t]he Court will not reconsider its prior ruling based on any clarity finally achieved [by USCIS] only after a Court-ordered search and submission that was prompted by the agency's own inadequate presentation. USCIS cannot retroactively satisfy its burden to show an adequate search had been conducted after haphazardly filing incomplete or inaccurate affidavits, confusing the bar, the Court, and the public it is intended to serve."

Wu v. Nat'l Geospatial Intelligence Agency (D. Conn.) -- holding that agency performed a reasonable search for satellite images at or near plaintiff's residence.

Ahuruonye v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior (D.D.C.) -- finding that U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service conducted an adequate search for personnel records concerning plaintiff.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Mar. 7, 2017

Codrea v. ATF (D.D.C.) -- concluding that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives properly relied upon Exemption 7(E) to withhold certain "instructions, policies or guidance given to agents who serve as hearing officers, or to their superiors, in connection with determining whether an [firearm] license should be revoked or suspended, or issuance of a license be denied, or a civil fine imposed."

Mar. 6, 2017

Edelman v. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n (D.D.C) -- determining that the SEC performed a reasonable search for consumer complaints regarding a real estate trust and that it properly withheld certain information pursuant to the deliberative process privilege.  Further, the court rejected the agency's categorical withholding of all names of consumer complainants under Exemption 6 and ordering the parties to meet and confer on the issue. 

Shapiro v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) FBI properly invoked Exemption 7(E) to withhold search slips generated in response to certain FOIA requests seeking records concerning domestic terrorism investigations; (2) parties must meet and confer concerning FBI's "sensitive case file numbers or sub-files," which court found meets the threshold test of Exemption 7(E); (3) FBI properly withheld certain investigatory records pertaining to murder of Hyram Kitchen pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 5, but that neither party was entitled to summary judgment with respect to Exemption 3; and (4) FBI was required to submit sample, redacted documents to permit court to evaluate issue of segregability.  

Johnson v. United States (D.D.C.) -- dismissing action against EEOC because it released all records requested by plaintiff, and dismissing action against Office of Personnel management because plaintiff failed to submit a request before filing lawsuit. 

Mar. 5, 2017

House v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- granting government's renewed motion for summary judgment after determining that the Criminal Division performed an adequate search for records concerning plaintiff's criminal prosecution.  

Mar. 2. 2017

Parker v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enf't (D.D.C.) -- deciding that ICE failed to perform an adequate search for certain records concerning its investigation of plaintiff, and that the agency properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemptions 7(C) and 7(E).

Mar. 1, 2017

Our Children's Earth Found. v. Nat'l Marine Fisheries Serv. (N.D. Cal.) -- determining that plaintiffs were eligible and entitled to attorney's fees and costs, but rejecting their request for $723,202.74 because of unreasonable hourly rates and excessive or redundant work. 

Feb. 28, 2017

Walston v. DOD (D.D.C.) -- concluding that:  (1) the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) failed to perform an adequate search for records concerning plaintiff's complaint to DISA's Inspector General; (2) DISA properly withheld one record pursuant to attorney-client privilege; and (3) DISA properly redacted identifying information of agency investigators pursuant to Exemption 6.  

Feb. 27, 2017

Broward Bulldog, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (S.D. Fla.) -- in case involving Exemptions 1, 3, 5, 6, 7(A), 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E), granting in part and denying in part government's summary judgment motion with respect to four disputed documents concerning FBI investigation of a Saudi family in Florida after September 11, 2001.

Feb. 24, 2017

Albers v. FBI (W.D. Wash.) -- finding that it was reasonable for FBI to initially search its Automated Case Support case management system for only "main entries" in response to request for all records "pertaining to" plaintiff.

Feb. 22, 2017

Gilliam v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that Drug Enforcement Administration performed a reasonable search for records concerning investigation that led to plaintiff's drug trafficking conviction and that DEA properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemptions 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E).  

Reporters Comm. for Freedom Press v. FBI (D.D.C.) -- ruling that FBI performed a reasonable search for records concerning the agency's alleged practice of impersonating the news media and that it properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3 (Nat'l Sec. Act of 1947), 5 (attorney work-product), 6, 7(C), and 7(E).

Feb. 21, 2017

Calderon v. U.S. Dep't of Agric. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) Exemption 4 applies to some but not all requested information concerning Export Credit Guarantee Program overseen by Foreign Agricultural Service; (2) Exemption 6 protected email addresses and telephone numbers of company employees, but not their names or business addresses.

N.Y. Times Co. v. DOJ (S.D.N.Y.) -- granting in part and denying in part the parties' summary judgment motion in case involving the applicability of Exemption 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7(C) to five memoranda relating to agency's investigation into legality of certain CIA overseas interrogations. 

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. FBI (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the FBI failed to conduct an adequate search or to properly justify its use of Exemption 7(E), and granting the agency an opportunity to supplement the record to demonstrate that the requested unpublished privacy assessments meet Exemption 7(E)'s threshold "compiled for law enforcement purposes" requirement.

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- granting agency's motion for summary judgment in case concerning thirty documents about former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's non-"state.gov" e-mail communications, which had been withheld in full under Exemption 5, in conjunction with the deliberative process privilege, and rejecting requester's invocation of the government-misconduct exception.

Feb. 17, 2017

Pinson v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that DOJ: (1) performed adequate searches in response to seven of eleven FOIA requests; (2) failed to prove the applicability of deliberative process privilege to After-Action Reports; (3) failed to prove that Exemption 6 categorically applied to all names, addresses, and case numbers concerning Federal Bureau of Prison litigation settlements; and (4) properly withheld only certain information for which it invoked Exemptions 7(C) and/or 7(F).   

Feb. 16, 2017

Pulliam v. EPA (D.D.C.) -- determining that: (1) EPA, DOJ, and DOD failed to perform adequate searches for records related to an investigation into toxic contamination occurring at former Army base; (2) DOD properly invoked Exemption 6 to redact names, email addresses, and phone numbers of junior personnel.

Feb. 15, 2017

Rodriguez v. DOD (D.D.C) -- concluding that agency unreasonably limited scope of search and failed to demonstrate that search was reasonably calculated to uncover all responsive records. 

Feb. 14, 2017

Nat'l Sec. Counselors v. DOJ (D.C. Cir.) -- finding that (1) FBI's policy of saving a maximum of 500 pages on a CD did not result in a violation of FOIA's mandate that agencies recover only "reasonable standard charges; (2) FBI failed to provide sufficient facts to allow court to determine whether FBI's $15-per-CD fee policy exceeds direct costs; and (3) affirming district court's denial of plaintiffs' request for a public interest fee waiver, because plaintiffs "failed to provide sufficiently specific and non-conclusory statements demonstrating its ability to disseminate the disclosures to a 'reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject.'" 

Feb. 8, 2017

Competitive Enter. Inst. v. EPA (D.D.C) -- ruling that:  (1)  plaintiff's lawsuit was not prematurely filed, because agency's deadline to respond to appeal started when agency received received emailed appeal, not when employee opened email two business days later; (2) agency performed a reasonable search for requested records concerning text-messaging by agency's former Administrator; (3) agency properly withheld certain records pursuant to the deliberative process, attorney-client, and/or work-product privileges, including public relations documents.

Feb. 7, 2017

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. DOD (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that a memo concerning the release of Bowe Bergdahl was protected by the deliberative process privilege; rejecting plaintiff's argument that the agency expressly adopted the memo as a source of guidance. 

Braun v. FBI (D. Mont.) -- finding that magistrate did not err in determining that agency properly withheld records concerning plaintiff pursuant to Exemptions 3, 6, 7(C), and 7(E).  

Feb. 3, 2017

Buckovetz v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy (S.D. Cal.) --  concluding that Navy performed an adequate search for documents pertaining to sexual harassment complaint and properly withheld disputed page under Exemptions 6 and 7(C).

Feb. 2, 2017

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) agency's search for records concerning former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Clinton Foundation was reasonable "in most respects," but unreasonably omitted emails of Huma Abedin; (2) agency failed to adequately address whether documents concerning then-Senator Clinton's Senate confirmation were protected under deliberative process privilege; (3) agency improperly withheld certain factual material concerning potential sources of conflict being deliberated upon by agency; (4) Exemption 6 protected private email addresses of individuals who were not yet affiliated with State Department, but not domain extensions of email addresses when release would not reveal the owner's full email address.

Feb. 1, 2017

Bettwieser v. Gans (D. Idaho) -- declining to dismiss plaintiff's suit against United States Postal Service even though agency averred that it never received request.

Jan. 31, 2017

Rad v. U.S. Attorney's Office (D.N.J.) -- denying requester's motion for in camera review and granting agency's motion for summary judgment because agency had properly applied Exemption 3, in conjunction with Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e); Exemption 6; and Exemptions 7(C), (D), and (E).

Bothwell v. Brennan (9th Cir.) -- affirming district court decision denying requester's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that he had failed to establish a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the CIA had waived its application of Exemption 3 or failed to conduct an adequate search for responsive records.

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. DOJ (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming district court decision dismissing plaintiff's suit under the APA to compel DOJ Office of Legal Counsel to meet its disclosure obligations under the "reading room" provision of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. sec. 552(a)(2). 

Jan. 30, 2017

James Madison Project v. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- holding that: (1) agency failed to perform  adequate searches for records relating to Hillary Clinton's private attorney; and (2) agency properly relied on Exemption 7(C) to withhold identity of agency's information security chief.  

Davis v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- summarily agreeing that five DOJ components had performed adequate searches and justified their withholdings, issues that plaintiff, a pro se inmate, did not dispute.

Jan. 27, 2017

Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Serv. (D. Colo.) -- ruling that certain records maintained by third-party contractor were not "agency records" because Forest Service lacked "control" over them.

Jan. 26, 2017

Inclusive Cmtys. Project, Inc. v. HUD (N.D. Tex.) -- finding that prevailing plaintiff could recover attorney fees for time spent to review records to determine whether agency's response was fully responsive to its request.

Fabricant v. Dep't of Justice (9th Cir.) (unpublished opinion) -- affirming district court's decision that agency conducted reasonable search for records concerning informant who testified against plaintiff, and finding that court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for discovery and costs.  

Jan. 25, 2017

O'Neill v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (E.D. Wis.) -- concluding that United States Marshal's Service and FBI performed reasonable searches for 56-page courtroom security plan, along with documents related to murder plot, created in 2000 in connection with plaintiff's criminal case

Jan. 23, 2017

W. Arms, Inc. v. United States (W.D. Wash.) -- deciding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives: (1) violated FOIA by failing to produce records for 20 months; (2) performed a reasonable search for response records; (3) properly withheld certain firearms records pursuant to Exemption 3 (Consolidated Appropriations Acts, 2005-2012) and Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege).  The court further found that plaintiff was eligible for attorney fees and costs as the prevailing party.

Jan. 20, 2017

Hetznecker v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (E.D. Pa.) -- in case concerning "Occupy Philly" movement, denying government's motion to reconsider court order requiring agencies to submit documents for in camera review. 

Jan. 18, 2017

Dibacco v. U.S. Dep't of the Army (D.D.C.) -- - ruling that the Army conducted adequate searches in response to plaintiff's 30-year old requests regarding Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, and that the CIA properly relied on Exemptions 1 and 3 to withhold certain information from Army records. 

Huntington v. U.S. Dep't of Commerce (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the U.S. Patent & Trade Office failed to conduct a reasonable search for records concerning confidential program, and that USPTO properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege).   

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Dep't of Def. (S.D.N.Y.) -- finding that: (1) government failed to provide sufficient information to permit court to determine whether photographs of Abu Ghraib detainees were protected by Exemption 3 ( Protected National Security Documents Act); and (2) Exemption 7(F) did not protect photographs from disclosure because government provided a "vague and unlimited" description as to who was endangered.

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (S.D.N.Y.) -- holding that DOJ properly withheld a 2003 memorandum regarding common commercial service agreements pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 3.  

Jan. 17, 2017

Ctr. for Pub. Integrity v. U.S. Dep't of Energy (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) with the exception of a single email, DOE properly relied on Exemption 4 to withhold certain contract provisions and contract strategy of company investigated by agency's Inspector General for illegally using taxpayer funds to engage in lobbying activities; (2) DOE properly withheld sensitive national security information pursuant to Exemptions 3, 7(E), and 7(F); (3) DOE failed to provide sufficient information to permit court to determine whether Exemption 7(C) protects identities of company employees, DOE employees who serve at GS-15 level and below, and individuals interviewed during DOE's investigation; and (4) DOE properly used Exemption 6 to withhold identities of certain low-level contractor employees and of targets of company's lobbying strategy. 

Jan. 16, 2017

Buholtz v. U.S. Marshals Serv. (D.D.C.) -- holding that records maintained by USMS contract jail were not "agency records" and that USMS was not required to retrieve them in response to plaintiff's request.   

Jan. 13, 2017

Wisdom v. U.S. Trustee Program (D.D.C.) -- determining that Executive Office for U.S. Trustees: (1) failed to show it had viable exhaustion defense to any of plaintiff's claims; (2) failed to establish that it conducted adequate searches in all locations likely to contain responsive documents; (3) failed to demonstrate that it properly withheld records pursuant to the deliberative process and attorney-client privileges; (4) properly relied on Exemption 6 to withhold personal identifying information of third parties and all but one employee performance evaluation; and (5) failed to prove that information withheld under Exemption 7(E) met law enforcement threshold.

Jan. 12, 2017

Grigery v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. (D. Md) -- summarily concluding that agency conducted reasonable search and properly redacted ten pages.  The court further found that redactions on other pages were a moot issue because HHS provided them to plaintiff without redactions in an EEOC action.    

Jan. 10, 2017

Manning v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that DOJ properly relied on Exemption 7(A) to categorically withhold records related to DOJ's' investigation into Plaintiff and others for disclosing classified and confidential information to WikiLeaks.

Jan. 6, 2017

Am. Small Bus. League v. DOD (9th Cir.) -- in an unpublished opinion, reversing district court's decision that none of agency's redactions from company's subcontracting plan were protected under Exemption 4 and that company's business contact information and signatures were not protected by Exemption 6.

Schwartz v. DOD (E.D.N.Y.) -- concluding that: (1) CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Department of Defense failed to adequately search for certain records concerning military commissions at Guantanamo Bay; (2) Exemption 7(F) did not apply to DOD's annual security refresher training presentation; (3) CIA properly redacted four of five items pursuant to Exemption 3; and (4) CIA properly refused to confirm or deny existence of certain records pursuant to Exemption 3.  

Jan. 5, 2017

People for the Ethical Treatment Animals v. HHS (D.D.C.) -- on reconsideration of decision dated August 18, 2016, ruling that: (1) four categories of records that court previously held were protected under Exemption 4 for seven objecting animal importers were also exempt for three additional importers who had not been notified of FOIA requests prior to court's decision; and (2)  animal quantity and crate information was protected by Exemption 4, except with respect to two importers that failed to object to disclosure.  

Jan. 3, 2017

Ecological Rights Found. v. Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency (N.D. Cal.) — denying agency request to “clawback” three records previously produced to requester, despite inherent authority of court to order such return, because the documents in question were not protected by the deliberative process or attorney-client privileges.

Dec. 31, 2016

Liberman v. U.S. Dep't of Transp. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that online blog owned by for-profit company qualified as  "representative of the news media" and that its request was not made for commercial purposes.

Dec. 29, 2016

Powell v. IRS (E.D. Mich.) -- adopting magistrate's report and recommendation finding that: (1) plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies or follow agency regulations regarding several requests; (2) IRS conducted a reasonable search for responsive records; and (3) IRS was not required to re-release certain records that it previously provided to plaintiff.

Dec. 28, 2016

Braun v. FBI (D. Mont.) -- ruling that FBI properly withheld records of "unspecified investigations" sought by pro se plaintiff pursuant to Exemptions 3 (31 U.S.C. § 5319), 6, 7(C), and 7(E).

Dec. 22, 2016

Electronic Frontier Found. v. Dep't of Justice (N.D. Cal.) -- determining that Drug Enforcement Agency failed to demonstrate that certain records concerning Hemisphere project were protected from disclosure under Exemptions 5, 7(A), 7(D) or 7(E), and ordering agency to produce for in camera inspection all records withheld under Exemption 7(E). 

Dec. 21, 2016

Behrens v. U.S. Attorney, Dist. of Neb., (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the Executive Office for U.S. Attorney conducted an adequate search of plaintiff's criminal case file despite failing to find requested document.

Dec. 20, 2016

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (2nd Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that 52 documents concerning drone strikes were protected from disclosure; finding that seven other drone-related documents were protected by the deliberative process privilege, reversing the district court's judgment that they must be disclosed.    

Rosiere v. United States (10th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision to dismiss pro se prisoner's lawsuit as malicious, in light of his multiple, repetitious suits.  

Nat'l Ass'n of Criminal Def. Lawyers v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.C. Cir.) -- denying appellant's petition for rehearing, but amending July 19, 2016 opinion and remanding case to district court to consider whether requested "Blue Book" manual contains non-exempt and reasonably segregable statements of discovery policy.

Dec. 15, 2016

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (5th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that plaintiff was "eligible" but not "entitled" to attorney's fees; rejecting plaintiff's argument that eligibility-entitlement test had been superseded by statutory amendments in 2007.    

Cause of Action Inst. v. Eggleston (D.D.C.) --  rejecting plaintiff's claim that various agencies engaged in a "pattern and practice" of violating FOIA by delaying responses to consult with the Office of White Counsel.  As an initial matter, the court held that plaintiff's claim improperly relied upon requests made by other requesters, as well as requests submitted by plaintiff that did not involve White House consultation.  Further, the court observed that "delay alone, even repeated delay," is not actionable as a pattern-and-practice claim.  Lastly, the court found that plaintiff's allegation that its requests were delayed for unnecessary and illicit purposes was "conclusory" and "unsupported."

Dec. 14, 2016

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- finding that agency failed to perform an adequate search for a "Form I-485 Receipt Notice," and ordering agency to provide plaintiff with a recreated notice within 24 hours. 

Dec. 12, 2016

Freedom Watch, Inc. v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.D.C.) -- on remand from D.C. Circuit, finding that the State Department conducted an adequate search for records relating to New York Times article about classified government cyberattacks against Iranian nuclear program.

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- striking agency declaration because declarant did not attest that he had personal knowledge of or familiarity with documents in question.

Dec. 6, 2016

Baker v. FBI (N.D. Ill.) -- ruling that the FBI properly relied on Exemptions 6 and 7(C) to withhold identifying information of federal and local law enforcement personnel and third party suspects from an investigative file.  

Kinman v. United States (S.D. Ohio) -- denying government's motion to dismiss (on procedural grounds) FOIA and Privacy Act suit against Department of Veterans Affairs in which plaintiff seeks access to individual claim files known as "C-files."  

Muchnick v. DHS (N.D. Cal.) -- reissuing tentative order and opinion from November 2, 2016 (summarized here) as a final order and opinion. 

Dec. 1, 2016

Competitive Enter. Inst. v. U.S. Dep't of State (E.D. Va.) -- finding that agency properly redacted communications concerning U.N. Climate Conference in Paris pursuant to Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege), with the exception of certain portions of two documents consisting of merely factual statements.

Ocasio v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that DOJ's Office of Inspector General properly relied on Exemption 7(C) to categorically withhold all records of agency's investigation into FBI's response to plaintiff's complaint of criminal conduct by a third party.

Nov. 30, 2016

Argus Leader Media v. USDA (D.S.D.) -- following a bench trial, concluding that the agency failed to carry its burden under Exemption 4 to prove that disclosure of certain "food stamp" data would cause substantial competitive harm to individual grocery stores participating in the agency's program.  

Nov. 23, 2016

Levinthal v. Fed. Election Comm'n (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the agency properly withheld a vulnerability assessment of its information technology systems pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 7(E).   

Sklarski v. Niagara Falls Bridge Comm'n (W.D.N.Y.) -- holding that the Commission is not subject to FOIA because its employees are not federal employees, it receives no federal funds, and the federal government does not recommend or appoint Commissioners.

Nov. 22, 2016

Friends of the River v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs (N.D. Cal.) --  transferring case to District of Columbia because plaintiff failed to establish that responsive records were likely located in the Northern District of California.   

Wadhwa v. Sec'y, Dep't of Veterans Affairs (D.N.J.) -- granting plaintiff's motion to compel discovery because the agency ignored instructions to submit affidavit explaining its Glomar response or its withholding under Exemptions 5 and 6. 

Nov. 21, 2016

Torres Consulting & Law Grp., LLC v. NASA (9th Cir.) (unpublished opinion) -- reversing and remanding district court's decision that certain payroll information was protected by Exemptions 4 and 6.  

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. DHS (D.D.C.) --  concluding for fee purposes that that plaintiff substantially prevailed because court issued scheduling order and because FOIA litigation substantially caused DHS to produce documents; further finding that plaintiff was entitled to fees because all factors weighed in plaintiff's favor.

Vakili v. DHS (N.D. Cal.) -- dismissing plaintiff's possible FOIA claims for failing to prosecute and for failing to exhaust his administrative remedies.

Nov. 15, 2016

Pickard v. Dep't of Justice (N.D. Cal.) -- concluding that the DEA properly relied on Exemption 7(D) to withhold a confidential informant's name and any information he publicly released, and that the agency properly withheld the informant's NADDIS number pursuant to Exemption 7(E).

Nov. 14, 2016

Nat'l Sec. Counselors v. CIA (D.D.C.) (summary forthcoming)

Nov. 10, 2016

Hoeller v. SSA (7th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision to dismiss case because plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies at the time he filed suit. 

Earle v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- dismissing suit because the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys demonstrated that the records requested -- specifically, a grand jury's "tax number" for a particular criminal case in the District of Columbia -- have never existed.

McCash v. CIA (N.D. Cal.) -- ruling that: (1) the NSA, CIA, and FBI performed reasonable searches for records concerning plaintiff; (2) the CIA and NSA properly refused to confirm or deny existence of classified records pursuant to Exemption 1; and (3) the FBI properly redacted third-party information pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C), but failed to explain why any non-exempt, segregable portions of the withheld pages could not have been released.

Nov. 8, 2016

Brown v. Perez (10th Cir.) -- on petition for panel rehearing, reversing district court's decision that the names and business addresses of workers compensation physicians were properly withheld under Exemptions 4 or 6; affirming district court's decision that agency was not required to input information into computer program in order to recreate requested screen images.

Nov. 4, 2016

Buckovetz v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy (S.D. Cal.) -- holding that the agency properly relied on Exemptions 6 and 7(C) to withhold identities of third parties from records associated with a sexual harassment complaint, but that agency's declaration failed to adequately explain its search methodology.  

Nov. 3, 2016

Schotz v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- (1) denying pro se plaintiff's motion to reconsider decision in the Federal Bureau of Prison's favor, because records released by BOP in response to a different request did not qualify as "new evidence" nor did it undermine the reasonableness of the agency's search; (2) denying plaintiff's motion for costs because plaintiff did not prevail by judicial order, the lawsuit was not the proximate cause of agency's release of records, plaintiff sought records for purely personal reasons, and the agency's uncontested withholdings were reasonable.  

Nov. 2, 2016

Muchnick v. DHS (N.D. Cal.) -- issuing a tentative order, pending resolution between the parties, that: (1) DHS must release information about the alleged crimes of George Gibney, decisions about immigration benefits he sought, and the dates any documents containing such information were created; (2) DHS may withhold, pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C), all identifying information about third parties other than Gibney, as well as Gibney's past addresses, salary history, Alien number, and the like; and (3) DHS may redact records revealing the investigative procedures it used to obtain information about Gibney, but not the information itself, pursuant to Exemption 7(E).  

Nov. 1, 2016

Associated Press v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- in an opinion abbreviated due to the time-sensitive nature of plaintiff's requests, ruling that the State Department properly withheld records concerning its civil settlement with BAE Systems pursuant to Exemptions 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Oct. 27, 2016

Freedom Watch v. Bureau of Land Mgmt. (D.D.C.) -- denying plaintiff's so-called discovery request seeking "full production" of requested records in case in which agencies averred they had never received plaintiff's requests.  

Morales v. Sec'y, U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C) -- denying plaintiffs' emergency motion seeking immediate processing of their FOIA request, because: (1) plaintiffs failed to ask the agency for expedited processing in his FOIA request; and (2) plaintiffs did not establish that they met any of the factors warranting preliminary injunctive relief. 

Oct. 24, 2016

Hedrick v. FBI (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the FBI conducted an adequate search for records concerning plaintiff, including his prosecution for the child pornography offenses, and that the agency properly redacted information about third parties pursuant to Exemption 6 and 7(C).

Oct. 21, 2016

Heartland Alliance Nat'l Immigrant Justice Ctr. v. DHS (7th Cir. 2016)  -- affirming district court's decision that Exemption 7(E) protected information relating to Tier III terrorist organizations, defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act in 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III). 

Freedom Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C. 2016)  --  denying plaintiff's Rule 60 motion after determining that the agency performed a reasonable search of documents located by the FBI from Hillary Clinton's personal email.  

Oct. 19, 2016

Worldnetdaily.com, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the government properly relied upon Exemption 5 to withhold a memorandum that recommended no charges against the law enforcement officials involved in the fatal shooting of Miriam Carey at the U.S. Capitol in 2013.

Oct. 12, 2016

Parker v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C) -- ruling that:  (1) the government was permitted to file a Motion for Summary Judgment instead of an Answer; (2) the Office of Professional Responsibility properly relied on Exemption 7(C) to withhold records about an AUSA who had practiced law without a valid license; and (3) the government failed to submit an affidavit concerning the withholdings made by EOUSA on records referred to it by OPR.

Oct. 11, 2016

Shapiro v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ordering the Office of the Solicitor General to search the email accounts of former employees for records concerning changes to Supreme Court opinions, but finding that the agency's search was proper in all other respects.

Wright v. Admin. for Children & Families (D.D.C.) -- finding that HHS agency performed an adequate search for certain records concerning unaccompanied alien children, and that it properly redacted information pursuant to Exemption 5's deliberative process privilege.  Of note, the court ruled that the agency was not required to search employees' personal email accounts, because plaintiff had not rebutted the  presumption that "agency records responsive to a FOIA request would unlikely be located solely in their personal email accounts."

Oct. 5, 2016

STS Energy Partners LP v. FERC (D.D.C) -- awarding attorney's fees to plaintiff despite its commercial interest in the records, because the public derived a benefit from disclosure and the agency did not have a reasonable basis for withholding the records that it initially refused to disclose. 

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- denying plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees after finding that plaintiff's lawsuit was not the catalyst for the Criminal Division's release of records.

Oct. 4, 2016

Kaye v. USCIS  (D.D.C.) -- granting government's unopposed summary judgment motion with respect to 85 pages of immigration records released in full or in part after plaintiff filed his lawsuit.

Judicial Watch v. NARA (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the National Archives and Records Administration properly withheld an independent counsel's draft indictments of Hillary Clinton pursuant to Exemption 7(C) and Exemption 3, in conjunction with Rule 6(e) of Federal Criminal Procedure. 

Sept. 30, 2016

Cameranesi v. DOD (9th Cir.) -- determining that the names of foreign students at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation are protected by Exemption 6, reversing the decision of U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California.  

Byers v. U.S. Tax Court (D.D.C.) -- holding that the United States Tax Court is exempt from FOIA because it is a court, not an agency.

Carter v. USDA (W.D. Ark.) -- finding that plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies with respect to one of three requests and referring matter back to U.S. Magistrate Judge for further proceedings. 

Landmark Legal Foundation v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that plaintiff's request for records "evincing the use of" personal email accounts and other electronic communication and social media platforms to conduct government business was overly burdensome and not reasonably described; further dismissing plaintiff's claim concerning agency use of alias emails, because plaintiff failed to appeal the agency's initial response.

Pub. Emps. for Envtl. Responsibility v. EPA (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the agency properly withheld four documents pursuant to the attorney-client privilege and one document under Exemption 6, and that the agency failed to carry its burden with respect to its remaining Exemption 5 withholdings.

Pub. Emps. for Envtl. Responsibility v. EPA Office of the Inspector Gen. (D.D.C.) -- deciding that the EPA properly relied upon the attorney-client privilege to withhold memoranda, including factual findings, written by agency investigators to agency lawyers in order to secure legal advice regarding the criminal liability of an outside party.

Sept. 29, 2016

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. DHS (D.D.C.) -- dismissing as moot plaintiff's claim that DHS improperly withheld records responsive to 19 requests, because the parties jointly represented that all non-exempt responsive records had been produced; further ruling that plaintiff failed to establish that DHS had a "policy and practice" of failing to abide by FOIA response deadlines.

Sept. 27, 2016

Burwell v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys (D.D.C.) -- concluding that agency performed a reasonable search for grand jury records pertaining to plaintiff's criminal case and that it properly withheld the names of third parties pursuant to Exemption 7(C).   

Hall & Assocs. v. EPA (D.D.C.) -- denying plaintiff's motion for reconsideration with respect to adequacy of EPA's search because plaintiff "received the documents it originally sought, does not seek additional documents or searches, already stipulated to the adequacy of both of EPA's searches, and articulates no extraordinary or manifest injustice;" further denying plaintiff's motion for attorney fees after finding that the delayed production of documents was due to plaintiff's "intransigence." 

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. DOJ (S.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that: (1) DOJ conducted reasonable searches for certain policy records on warrantless surveillance; (2) with one exception,  the National Security Division properly withheld records under the attorney work product privilege; and (3) the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys would be granted a further opportunity to justify its withholdings under the attorney work product privilege.

Sept. 23, 2016

Immigrant Def. Project v. DHS (S.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that the government failed to perform an adequate search because: (1) the search terms employed were in the plural form only, not singular; (2) the agency did not search for all records "related to" certain press releases; and (3) the agency did not assist plaintiffs to narrow their original request.  

Sept. 22, 2016

Wadelton v. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- granting government's renewed motion for summary judgment after concluding that the agency's supplemental searches were adequate and that its withholdings were proper under Exemption 5 (attorney work product and deliberative process privilege). 

The James Madison Proj. v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- granting summary judgment to government on all but one count concerning requests for records about the book No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Biden Laden.  Of note, the court held that plaintiff's fax confirmation page was insufficient evidence to counter the U.S Navy's sworn declaration that it had never received plaintiff's request.  

Ford v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- determining that the FBI and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys conducted reasonable searches for records concerning plaintiff's bank robbery conviction, and that the agencies properly withheld certain information under Exemptions 3, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E).

Scholl v. Various Agencies of the Fed. Gov't (D.D.C.) -- dismissing suit because plaintiff had waived his right to obtain the requested records as a condition of two plea agreements. 

Sept. 21, 2016

Gabrion v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (S.D. Ind.) -- holding that the Federal Bureau of Prisons properly relied on Exemptions 6, 7(C), 7(E), and 7(F) to withhold certain records concerning plaintiff, a death row inmate who sought records concerning his prison custody. 

Isiwele v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services conducted an adequate search for records concerning certain Medicare claims and that the agency properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemption 6 & 7(C); and (2) the Executive Office for United States Attorneys performed a reasonable search for personnel records of certain employees and that the agency properly withheld those records pursuant to Exemption 6.

Lewis v. Dep't of the Army (S.D. Ga.) -- dismissing claim for injunctive relief because plaintiff received all requested documents; dismissing claim for $1 million damages because FOIA does not permit monetary awards; and dismissing request for the appointment of Special Counsel because none of the statutory requirements were met (5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(F)(i)).

Sept. 20, 2016

Sea Shepherd Conservation Soc'y v. IRS (D.D.C.) -- finding that all but one of the agency's searches for records concerning plaintiff was adequate; that the agency's Glomar response concerning whistleblower records was improper because the agency had already acknowledged existence of records; and that the agency properly invoked Exemption 3 (26 U.S.C. § 6103) and Exemption 7(D).

Pike v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the government properly withheld an audio recording of plaintiffs in its entirety under Exemption 7(A), but that waived its right to withhold the portion of the transcript that it had placed into the public domain.

Blank Rome v. Dep't of the Air Force (D.D.C.) -- determining that the Air Force conducted an adequate search for records concerning the termination of a contract and that all but two of its redactions from three disputed documents were proper under Exemption 5.

Johnson v. FBI (E.D. Pa.) -- granting government's motion for reconsideration after determining that FBI's supplemental declarations established the propriety of the agency's withholdings under Exemptions 3, 5, 6, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E).

Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire v. IRS (D.N.H.) -- denying plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees after concluding that plaintiff's lawsuit was not the proximate cause of agency's release of records and that plaintiff did not substantially prevail by virtue of agency's supplemental search that yield no additional records. 

Sept. 16, 2016

Eil v. DEA (D.R.I.) -- ordering the agency to release all the exhibits introduced by the federal government in the criminal trial of Dr. Paul H. Volkman, except for: (1) certain "highly personal" third-party information "of no consequence to the trial or conviction of Dr. Volkman," (2) identifying information of criminal investigators and DEA numbers; and (3) trial exhibit numbers.

Sept. 15, 2016

Manna v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the FBI properly invoked Exemptions 6 and 7(C) to withhold or to refuse to confirm or deny the existence of records about a government informant who was plaintiff's associate in the Genovese Crime Family.

Sept. 13, 2016

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. DEA (D.D.C.) -- finding that DEA conducted a reasonable initial search for agency privacy assessments, but that its supplemental effort to locate four missing assessments based on a "clear and certain lead" was insufficient.  

Inclusive Cmtys. Project, Inc. v. HUD (N.D. Tex.) -- rejecting agency's reliance on Exemption 6 to withhold requested data on House Choice Vouchers.  Although the court accepted HUD's argument that an invasion of privacy may theoretically occur through a chain of events following disclosure ("derivative-use theory"), the court found that the agency failed to demonstrate the likelihood of such harm in this case.  Even if the agency had made the necessary causal connection, however, the court concluded that the public interest in disclosure outweighed the privacy interests at stake.  

Sept. 9, 2016

Am. Farm Bureau Fed'n v. EPA (8th Cir.) -- reversing district court's decision that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring a "reverse" FOIA suit to prevent disclosure of certain information about their concentrated animal feeding operations, and that the information at issue was not exempt from mandatory disclosure under Exemption 6.  In analyzing the applicability of Exemption 6, the Eighth Circuit rejected the EPA's argument that the information's availability through various other public sources diminished the plaintiffs' privacy interests. 

Although a requester might be able to find the information he seeks on a website or in a State's publicly available files, the agency's comprehensive listing . . . substantially increases the public visibility and accessibility of that information. The agency's release of the complete set of data on a silver platter, so to speak, eliminates the need for requesters and others to scour different websites and to pursue public records requests to create a comprehensive database of their own.  If the information were so easily accessible, then it is passing strange that the parties would engage in protracted and expensive litigation to secure it through the Freedom of Information Act.  See Reporters Comm., 489 U.S. at 764.

The Eighth Circuit remanded the case for the district court to determine whether EPA is prohibited by any independent source of authority from making a discretionary release of the information at issue. 

Brozzo v. U.S. Dep't of Educ. (N.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that the agency did not show that student loan records possessed by another entity were not "agency records" in light of agency regulation that authorized agency to copy and inspect them. 

Sept. 7, 2016

Shapiro v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- deciding that (a) the FBI performed an adequate search for records pertaining to Aaron Swartz; (b) the agency's explanation for its use of Exemption 3  to withhold federal grand jury records was conclusory; and (c) the agency provided insufficient information to permit the court to determine whether disclosure of certain law enforcement records would cause harms protected by Exemption 7(E).

Attkisson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the FBI conducted an adequate search for records concerning plaintiff Sharyl Attkinson.

Sept. 6, 2016

Hiken v. Dep't of Def. (9th Cir.) -- vacating the district court's fee award after finding that the court failed to consider plaintiff's submission of evidence concerning the prevailing hourly attorney's rates from 2006 to 2008.  A dissenting panelist opined that the plaintiff's notice of appeal failed to actually dispute the fee award and that the district court acted within its discretion in calculating the amount.  

Marino v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that multiple DOJ components conducted adequate searches in response to pro se prisoner's requests and that the government properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemption 5, 6, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(F). 

Nat'l Sec. Counselors v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C.) -- granting summary judgment to six intelligence agencies on three claims that remained from dozens of claims brought by plaintiff in connection with its numerous FOIA requests.

Sept. 2, 2016

Fund v. U.S. Food & Drug Admin. (9th Cir.) (en banc) -- adopting a de novo standard of review for summary judgment decisions in FOIA cases and remanding the case for resolution of merits.  

Davidson v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- determining that (1) agency failed to demonstrate the adequacy of its search for documents; (2) agency's Vaughn Index failed to account for all withholdings; and (3) agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 6.

Sept. 1, 2016

McClanahan v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that: (1) the FBI performed an adequate search in response to plaintiffs' requests for records concerning themselves, and  (2) the agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 1, Exemption 3 (in conjunction with the National Security Act of 1947), Exemption 5 (attorney work product privilege), and Exemption 7(E).  

Lorber v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury (E.D.N.Y.) -- adopting in full the Magistrate's recommendation to grant agency's summary judgment motion after finding that: (1) Treasury did not waive its right to collect applicable fees in light of "unusual" and "exceptional" circumstances; (2) Plaintiff's requests for third-party emails fell outside of the Privacy Act; (3) Plaintiff, a pro se litigant, was not entitled to attorney's fees; and (4) Treasury did not acted arbitrarily or capriciously in withholding records. 

Aug. 31, 2016

Dongkuk Int'l, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that a request for assistance made by a foreign government -- in this instance, the Republic of Korea --  under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 3.

Intellectual Property Watch v. U.S. Trade Representative (S.D.N.Y.) -- denying in substantial part plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of court's decision that certain draft text, memoranda, and communications relating to the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP") were properly withheld under Exemption 1; denying both parties' motions for summary judgment on USTR's withholdings pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with 19 U.S.C. § 2155(g)(2),(g)(3).

Aug. 29. 2016

Brown v. Perez (10th Cir.) -- reversing decision of U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado that granted summary judgment to U.S. Department of Labor, which had withheld the names and business addresses of treating physicians from certain worker compensation records pursuant to Exemptions 4 and 6.  With respect to Exemption 4, the Tenth Circuit held that the agency could not demonstrate the likelihood of substantial competitive harm by relying upon an unsworn letter from a third party that had objected to disclosure.  Regarding Exemption 6, the Circuit questioned the agency's unsupported claim that the treating physicians had any cognizable privacy interests in their business addresses.  Moreover, the Circuit rejected the agency's post hoc argument that disclosure would implicate the physicians' financial information.  Lastly, the Circuit held that the district court improperly permitted agency to withhold printouts of certain computer menu screens, because the agency had put forth no evidence as to whether those records were "readily reproducible."

Aug. 26, 2016

Gov't Accountability Project v. Food & Drug Admin. (D.D.C.) -- holding that Section 105 of the Animal Drug and User Fee Amendments of 2008 does not qualify as an Exemption 3 statute, and denying summary judgment to both parties with respect to whether disclosure of records concerning antimicrobial drugs sold and distributed in 2009 would likely cause harms protected by Exemption 4.  

Yunes v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the State Department adequately searched the embassy of the Dominican Republic for records concerning plaintiff's visa revocation, and that all of the FBI's withholdings were proper except for its application of Exemption 3 in conjunction with the Bank Secrecy Act to withhold a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network report.

Bartko v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Securities and Exchange Commission conducted an adequate search for records pertaining to plaintiff's criminal prosecution.  

Aug. 25, 2016

N.Y. Times Co. v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (S.D.N.Y.) -- determining that the NSA properly redacted information from two Inspector General reports pursuant to Exemption 1 and denying in camera review because the agency's declaration "articulated a reasonably detailed explanation for the redactions which was both logical and plausible."

Aug. 24, 2016

Miles v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that multiple components of DOJ performed adequate searches in response to pro se prisoner's request for correspondence concerning certain criminal laws. 

Aug. 22, 2016

Zaldivar v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs (D. Ariz.) -- holding that: (1) plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to his request for certain records from his claim file; (2) the agency conducted an adequate search in response to his request for records concerning his former spouse; (3) the agency properly relied on Exemption 6 to withhold certain about plaintiff's former spouse.  

Aug. 19, 2016

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- concluding that: (1) referring record is not per se improper, but that ICE did not justify withholding four pages that USCIS referred to ICE; (2) the declaration of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol failed to account for two withheld pages; (3) CPB and USCIS demonstrated that they conducted legally adequate searches; (4) USCIS was required to disclose duplicate records subject to authorized redactions; and (5) USCIS performed a reasonable segregability analysis for two of three disputed exhibits.

Aug. 18, 2016

People for the Ethical Treatment Animals v. HHS (D.D.C) -- ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention properly relied on Exemption 4 to withhold four categories of information concerning the importation of animals, but that plaintiff was entitled to the names of the species of animals imported and to all five categories of information submitted by three companies that did not object to disclosure.  

Aug. 17, 2016

ACLU v. FBI (D. Mass.) -- finding that: (1) the FBI conducted a reasonable search for records concerning the FBI's Boston field office and the Joint Terrorism Task Force; (2) the FBI did not justify its use of Exemption 7(E) to withhold staffing and budget information or certain case statistics; and (3) the Executive Office for United States Attorneys was required to conduct a search because it failed to prove that all records in its possession would be duplicative of FBI's records.

Aug. 16, 2016

Carter v. United States (S.D. Ohio) -- granting summary judgment to the Executive Office for United States Attorneys because the agency averred that it never received plaintiff's request and plaintiff was unable to establish otherwise.

Widi v. McNeil (D. Me.) -- in a case aptly described by the court as "tortuous," the court ruled that: (1) the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and Explosives performed an adequate search for records about plaintiff's criminal trial; (2) the government properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemption 7(E), but that it did not prove that it properly withheld certain records under Exemptions 3, 5, 7(D), or 7(F); (3) the Executive Office for United States Attorneys properly referred certain records to ATF for processing.    

Aug. 11, 2016

Rodriguez v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the supplemental declaration filed by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys demonstrated that the agency conducted a reasonable search for certain grand jury information concerning plaintiff's criminal case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Aug. 10, 2016

Va.-Pilot Media Cos. v. Dep't of Justice (E.D. Va.) -- awarding plaintiff $100,000 in attorneys' fees and costs, reducing the requested amount by $27,857.50 for excessive time spent on the fee petition, unreasonably hourly rates for certain support staff, and time spent on administrative proceedings.  

McAtee v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D. Mont.) -- deciding that the Executive Office of United States Attorneys properly withheld various grand jury information pursuant to Exemption 3.

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the Bureau of Prisons properly relied upon Exemptions 7(E) and 7(F) to withheld in full records about third-party inmates even though they had signed release authorizations; further finding that BOP failed to adequately search for public comments to certain proposed agency regulations, but that it adequately searched for records responsive to plaintiff's remaining requests. 

Aug. 8, 2016

Andrus v. U.S. Dep't of Energy (D. Idaho) -- ruling that: (1) plaintiff, the former Governor of Idaho, failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to one of his five requests concerning the disposal of nuclear waste; (2) agency failed to adequately explain its Exemption 5 withholdings and ordering it to submit documents for in camera review; (3) plaintiff properly challenged agency's decision under Administrative Procedure Act because DOE failed to follow a regulation that requires release of documents if in "public interest" notwithstanding the applicability of FOIA exemptions.

Aug. 5, 2016

Labow v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the FBI on claims under Exemption 7(D) and under the exclusion set forth in 5 U.S.C. § 552(c)(1); reversing the grant of summary judgment on challenges to FBI's withholdings under Exemption 3, specifically the Pen Register Act and Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e) (grand jury records); vacating as moot the district court's opinion with regard to Exemption 7(A).

GMBH v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C.) --determining that the CIA conducted a reasonable search for records pertaining to the head of East Germany's state security service, and that the agency properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemption 3 (The National Security Act and the CIA Act).  

Aug. 4, 2016

Myrick v. Johnson (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the Department of Homeland Security properly relied on Exemption 7(E) in refusing to confirm or deny the existence of records pertaining to a specific undercover operation.

Aug. 2, 2016

N.Y. Times Co. v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury (S.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that the Office of Foreign Assets Control properly withheld a memoranda as predecisional and deliberative under Exemption 5, but that the agency failed to show that it conducted an adequate search for the "governing legal protocol" that plaintiff had actually requested.  

July 29, 2016

Am. Immigration Lawyers Ass'n v. Exec. Office for Immigration Review (D.C. Cir.) -- reversing district court's decision that the agency may categorically withhold under Exemption 6 the names of all immigration judges who are the subject of misconduct complaints; reversing the district's decision that the agency may redact information as non-responsive from a document deemed responsive to request; affirming district court's decision that records documenting the resolution of misconduct complaints need not be affirmatively disclosed under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2)..

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) the Federal Bureau of Prisons properly relied on Exemption 7(C) to withhold third-party information from "Special Administrative Measures," memoranda, but failed to prove that Exemptions 7(E) and 7(F) applied to those records; (2) BOP properly relied on Exemptions 6 and 7(C) to withhold third-party information from memoranda concerning inmate deaths; and (3) BOP properly relied on Exemption 5 and 6 to withhold portions of memorandum describing unsuccessful nominee for BOP Director.

July 26, 2016

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- finding that: (1) USCIS's revised Vaughn indices were not detailed enough to prove that Exemption 5 applied to four documents; (2) USCIS discharged its FOIA obligations with respect to remaining requested records, including properly invoking Exemptions 5 and 7(E), and; (3) plaintiff did not establish that USCIS should be held in civil contempt.

July 21, 2016

Berard v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons (D.D.C.) -- ruling that BOP properly relied upon Exemptions 6, 7(C), 7(D), 7(E), and 7(F) to withhold certain information from a confidential informant report, but finding that the agency failed to release all segregable, non-exempt information.   

July 19, 2016

Nat'l Ass'n of Criminal Def. Lawyers v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming the district court's decision that DOJ properly relied upon the attorney work-product privilege of Exemption 5 to withhold its "Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book," which contains "information and advice for prosecutors about conducting discovery in their cases, including guidance about the government's various obligations to provide discovery to defendants."  

Knuckles v. Dep't of the Army (S.D. Ga.) -- dismissing action as moot because agency provided pro se plaintiff with her employment records following lawsuit; denying plaintiff's claims for monetary damages, attorney fees, and the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate the agency; granting plaintiff's claim for costs because she substantially prevailed.  

Bloomgarden v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that agency properly redacted under Exemption 7(C) the names and signatures of government agents on proffer agreements that were otherwise disclosed to plaintiff.

July 18, 2016

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D.D.C.) -- reducing award of fees sought by plaintiff by seventy-six percent after determining that seventy-six percent of plaintiff's briefs pertained to issues upon which plaintiff did not prevail in the underlying litigation.   

Stein v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- (1) finding that the FBI properly invoked Exemption 7(D) to withhold information provided by a foreign source under an implied assurance of confidentiality; (2) ordering the FBI to process a separate request because the fees sought by the agency are prohibited due to agency's untimely response.

July 15, 2016

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (5th Cir.) -- vacating district court's judgment and remanding case for further proceedings because the agency performed a new search two weeks before oral arguments that yielded additional responsive records.  

Lopez v. United States (11th Cir.) -- vacating dismissal of plaintiff's FOIA claims against Federal Bureau of Prisons and remanding for further proceedings because the district court failed to treat one claim on a motion for summary judgment and deprived plaintiff of an opportunity to present views on two other claims.  

July 14, 2016

Detroit Free Press Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (6th Cir.) (en banc) -- Overruling its 1996 decision that individuals do not possess privacy interest in their booking photos and remanding case to district court to conduct a new balancing analysis.  

Florez v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (2nd Cir.) -- remanding case to district court to reconsider whether the CIA properly refused to confirm or deny the existence of records concerning plaintiff's father, a Cold War-era Cuban diplomat, in light of FBI's release of documents concerning the same individual during pendency of appeal.

Det. Watch Network v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enf't (S.D.N.Y.) -- rejecting government's argument that Exemptions 4 and 7(E) protected the unit prices, bed-day rates, and staffing plans in government contracts with private detention facility contractors.   

July 13, 2016

Rad v. U.S. Attorney's Office (D.N.J.) -- finding that the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys conducted a thorough search for records pertaining to plaintiff's criminal case, but that it failed to sufficiently explain its withholdings.  

Truthout v. Dep't of Justice (9th Cir.) (unpublished) -- affirming district court's decision that FBI properly invoked Exemption 7(E) to withhold records related to agency's practice of verifying privacy waivers.

July 11, 2016

Leopold v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.D.C.) -- ordering DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel to employ a Clearwell eDiscovery tool to search the email files of departed OLC attorneys for any records related to surveillance of federal and state judges.

Offor v. EEOC (E.D.N.Y.) -- dismissing case as moot because plaintiff received her case file with only modest redactions to three of the 265 pages, which she did not contest.

July 7, 2016

Shah v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (E.D. Ark.) -- finding that plaintiff failed to file administrative appeals in connection with three of his five requests to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and that the agency properly withheld certain information under Exemptions 6, 7(C), and 7(F).  

Atlasware, LLC v. Soc. Sec. Admin. (W.D. Ark.) -- dismissing lawsuit because plaintiff's attorney failed to identify his client in the request or administrative appeal.  In dicta, the court rejected plaintiff's argument that agency's cloud computing made venue proper under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B).    

July 6, 2016

Freedom Watch, Inc. v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.D.C.) --  determining that the CIA and Department of Defense conducted adequate searches regarding a military helicopter shot down in Afghanistan, that they properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3, 5, and 6, and that they released all non-exempt, reasonably segregable information. 

July 5. 2016

Competitive Enterprise Inst. v. Office of Sci. & Tech. Policy (D.C. Cir.) -- reversing district court's decision that agency was not required to search for requested records maintained in the private email account of agency's director.  In reaching its decision, the court explained that “an agency always acts through its employees and officials.  If one of them possesses what would otherwise be agency records, the records do not lose their agency character just because the official who possesses them takes them out the door or because he is the head of the agency.”

Moon v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons (E.D. Mo.) -- dismissing suit because plaintiff failed to pay fees associated with his request, i.e., he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.

July 1, 2016

Platsky v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (S.D.N.Y.) -- finding that the FBI, NSA, and CIA properly refused to confirm or deny the existence of certain records concerning plaintiff.  

June 30, 2016

Solers, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Serv. (4th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that IRS properly withheld six types of records pursuant to Exemption 3 (26 U.S.C. § 6103), Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege), and Exemptions 6 and 7(C).

Harper v. EEOC (W.D. Tenn.) -- adopting magistrate's recommendation to grant summary judgment to government, which had redacted certain information from requested documents pursuant to Exemption 5. 

June 29, 2016

Renewal Servs. v. U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (S.D. Cal.) -- dismissing plaintiff's suit because the requested records were publicly available and indexed on agency electronic system, notwithstanding plaintiff's claim that agency's electronic system had an " excessively onerous method for extracting information."

June 28, 2016

Bayala v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D.C. Cir.) -- reversing district court's decision that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, because the agency decision that plaintiff did not administratively appeal before filing suit was abandoned in part and modified in part by the agency in litigation. 

Wilson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys properly relied upon Exemption 7(C) to protect third-party information in plaintiff's criminal case file, but declining to grant summary judgment because EOUSA's declaration failed to establish that a reasonable search had been performed.

June 27, 2016

Reedom v. Soc. Sec. Admin. (D.D.C.) -- dismissing suit against three agencies because plaintiff failed to submit proper authorization forms, failed to pay fees, failed to reasonably describe records sought, failed to submit administrative appeals, or failed to wait 20 days for appeal response before filing suit.   

June 24, 2016

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (D.D.C.) -- granting in part and denying in part government's summary judgment motion in case involving the Hemisphere Project, a mass telephone surveillance program.  The court found that the DEA: (1) conducted a reasonable search for documents addressing the privacy impact of the program; (2) properly withheld a draft legal memorandum under the deliberative process privilege, rejecting plaintiff's "meritless argument" that the memo represented the agency's final policy; (3) properly withheld a preliminary assessment of the program under the attorney work-product privilege; (4) failed to submit sufficient evidence to establish that Exemption 7(D) protects that identities of private companies that assist in the operation of the program; and (5) failed to show that Exemption (7)(E) protects (a) the names of private companies that assist with the program's operation, (b) documents that reveal how the DEA secures cooperation of entities instrumental to program's operation, or (c) the names of other law enforcement agencies with access to the program data.

June 21, 2016

Platsky v. Food & Drug Admin. (2nd Cir.) (summary order) -- affirming district court's ruling that the FDA conducted an adequate search for requested records.  

June 17, 2016

Soto v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- holding that 8 U.S.C. § 1202(f), which permits the Department to withhold documents "pertaining to the issuance or refusal of visas," extends to records concerning the revocation of visas; therefore, the Department properly invoked Exemption 3 to withhold records pertaining to the revocation of a student visa.  

June 16, 2016

Palmieri v. United States (D.D.C.) -- determining that: (1) the Office of Naval Intelligence failed to conduct an adequate search for records concerning plaintiff, a former contractor for the United States whose security clearance was revoked; (2) the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) did not sufficiently establish that it properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 3 and the Bank Secrecy Act; (3) the Department of State, Defense Security Service, and OPM conducted adequate searches; (4) the Naval Criminal Investigative Service properly withheld records pursuant to Privacy Act exemption (j)(2) and plaintiff failed to expressly challenge agency's FOIA exemptions.

June 14, 2016

Pebble Ltd. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency (D. Alaska) -- following in camera review of 145 documents, ordering agency to release, in whole or in part, twenty-three documents that had been withheld under the deliberative process privilege.

June 10, 2016

Tracy v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that it was reasonable for the FBI to search for records concerning plaintiff by using his name as a search term and forgoing his date of birth, social security number, and the names of companies suggested by plaintiff.  The court further ruled that the FBI properly withheld the names of third parties under Exemption 6 and 7(C), and that it properly withheld the address of an internal web site under Exemption 7(E). 

June 8, 2016

 Russell v. U.S. Dep't of State (9th Cir.) -- affirming lower court's finding that agency conducted an adequate search for records concerning death of plaintiff's son in China.  The court rejected plaintiff's argument that Ninth Circuit precedent requires agency affiant to "directly" supervise searches, holding that the affiant need only be "responsible for supervising" the search.   

June 2, 2016

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- ruling that plaintiff was not entitled to attorneys' fees or costs largely because his request sought a "single record for use in his client's removal proceedings.  He had no larger purpose aimed at benefitting the public. . . ." 

June 1, 2016

Gahagan v. U.S. Customs & Border Prot. (E.D. La.) -- awarding attorney fees and costs after determining that plaintiff substantially prevailed in lawsuit, but reducing requested fee amount by more than half due to attorney's excessive hourly rate and poor billing judgment.

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- granting summary judgment to Executive Office for United State Attorneys with respect to six requests submitted by pro se inmate (all involving search or fee issues), but denying EOUSA's motions concerning five other requests.   

Ctr. for Digital Democracy v. Fed. Trade Comm'n (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the FTC properly relied upon Exemptions 3 and 4 to redact confidential business information from annual reports submitted to the agency by "safe harbor programs." 

May 31, 2016

McAtee v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D. Mont.) -- holding that the U.S. Secret Service conducted a reasonable search for plaintiff's criminal case file and properly redacted third party information under Exemptions 6 and 7(C), but that agency's Vaughn Index did not provide sufficient information to permit the court to determine whether grand jury-related records were protected under Exemption 3.

May 27, 2016

Williams v. U.S. Dept. of Justice (D. Md.) -- ruling that plaintiff's "sweeping" requests for records concerning his enslaved ancestors over a 600-year period were too broad and non-specific to permit agencies to conduct searches; further ruling that FOIA did not permit the court to award plaintiff damages for his relatives' enslavement.

May 25, 2016

Shapiro v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- granting in part and denying part FBI's motion to reconsider court's April 8, 2016 opinion that permitted agency to raise certain -- but not all -- exemptions for first time in litigation.  In reaching its decision, the court held that D.C. Circuit's case law does not permit the government to advance new FOIA exemptions absent a showing of good cause,

Nat'l Sec. Counselors v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C.) -- awarding plaintiff $55,050 for attorney fees and $505 in costs for partially prevailing in FOIA litigation; reducing amount of fees requested by 40 percent (from $91,750), because (1) the fee request included unsuccessful claims, (2) the billing records were not contemporaneous, lacked details, and included duplicative work, and (3) the hourly rates were excessive.    

Daniels v. Soc. Sec. Admin. (9th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that agency provided appellant with all responsive records to which he was entitled under the Privacy Act and FOIA; rejecting appellant's argument that agency was required to cite Privacy Act exemptions in order to withhold documents not contained in a "system of records."  

May 24, 2016

Rosiere v. United States (10th Cir.) -- affirming district court's dismissal of plaintiff's FOIA lawsuit in Colorado because plaintiff filed lawsuits in Nevada and New Jersey seeking identical documents.  The Tenth Circuit rejected plaintiff's argument that section 552(7)(A) permits a requester to sue for identical FOIA requests in two separate courts so long as each FOIA request is made on a separate date and assigned an individualized tracking number. 

May 20, 2016

Sack v. U.S. Dep't of Def. (D.C. Cir.) -- reversing district court's holding that a Ph.D. student was ineligible for reduced FOIA fees as an "education institution."  In reaching its ruling, the D.C. Circuit stated that the government's distinction between teachers -- who are eligible for reduced fees under OMB's 1987 fee guidance -- and students was "entirely unexplained and unpersuasive."  With respect to the polygraph records requested by plaintiff, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district's decision that such records were protected from disclosure under Exemption 7(E).

May 13, 2016

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. CIA (D.C. Cir.) -- unanimously affirming district court's decision that a report authored by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on a program of detention and interrogation formerly run by the CIA was a congressional record, not an agency record subject to FOIA.

May 12, 2016

Johnson v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (E.D. Pa.) -- ordering FBI to disclose its investigatory file of a death row inmate to plaintiff's counsel, because the agency failed to demonstrate that all responsive records were necessarily covered by Exemption 7(A); further ordering plaintiff's attorney to propose to court which documents it wished to share with others, including plaintiff, an investigator whose office represented death row inmate.   

May 10, 2016

Raimondo v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (N.D. Cal.) -- ruling that the FBI failed to sufficiently demonstrate how the records it maintained on an anti-war website met the law enforcement threshold for purposes of Exemption 7, or -- even if they met that threshold -- how they were exempt under Exemptions 7(C) or 7(E).  

May 9, 2016

Competitive Enter. Inst. v. Office of Sci. & Tech. Policy (D.D.C.) -- granting plaintiff limited discovery concerning the agency's search because the court found the agency's representations about the scope and completeness of the search to be "inaccurate time and again."

May 4, 2016

Rogers v. Internal Revenue Serv. (6th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that plaintiff was precluded from maintaining a FOIA action due to a "release clause" contained in previously executed settlement agreement with the IRS.  A dissenting opinion asserted that the FOIA action should not have been dismissed, because the IRS failed to raise the release clause as a defense until it filed a summary judgment motion one year after the lawsuit began.  

May 2, 2016

Pickard v. Dep't of Justice (N.D. Cal.) -- ordering the Drug Enforcement Administration to release three categories of information about a confidential informant who testified against plaintiff, because the magistrate judge found that the DEA did not provide reasons for nondisclosure that were sufficiently tailored to the case.  

Apr. 27, 2016

Airaj v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the agency conducted a reasonable search for records pertaining to plaintiff's application for a special immigration visa, and that it properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemption 3 (in conjunction with the Immigration Nationality Act) and Exemptions 6 and 7(C).   

Apr. 26, 2016

Bagwell v. U.S. Dep't of Educ. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the agency properly withheld certain compliance records and correspondence pertaining to Penn State University pursuant to Exemptions 6, 7(C), 7(E), and 3 (in conjunction with the Higher Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. § 1099c-l).  

Apr. 22, 2016

Behrens v. U.S. Attorney (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the government's search was inadequate because the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys failed to search plaintiff's criminal case file for a court order issued in related civil case involving plaintiff and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Apr. 21, 2016

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. DOJ (D.C. Cir.) (unpublished opinion) -- affirming lower court's decision that the CIA properly relied upon Exemption 1 to withhold records related to the United States’ use of armed drones to conduct “targeted killings.”

Apr. 20, 2016

Schotz v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys performed adequate searches in response to inmate's ten requests; further finding that BOP properly redacted certain telephone numbers pursuant to Exemption 7(C).  

Apr. 18, 2016

Harvey v. Lynch (D.D.C.) -- denying plaintiff an award of costs after determining that his lawsuit was not the catalyst for the release of records by the Federal Bureau of Prisons; rather, the court found that BOP initiated its search shortly after receiving the request and that its delayed response was due to limited resources and the agency's first-in/first out policy for processing requests. 

Apr. 15, 2016

Freedom Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- on remand from the D.C. Circuit, ruling that the State Department conducted an adequate search of Hillary Clinton's emails for documents relating to a type of sanctions waiver the U.S. State Department granted to certain countries doing business with Iran.  The court pointed out that plaintiff's arguments in opposition to the agency's search had been raised and rejected in earlier briefing, prompting the court to criticize plaintiff for ignoring its prior opinion and for submitting "sloppy work." 

Apr. 13, 2016

Buckovetz v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy (S.D. Cal.) -- denying government's summary judgment motion concerning records of a sexual harassment complaint maintained by U.S. Marine Corps.  The court held that the government had failed to demonstrate that it conducted an adequate search, noting that the government did not even address plaintiff's argument that an additional office would likely maintain records.  With respect to withholdings that the agency made pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C), the court found that the agency declaration was "vague and conclusory" and that the Vaughn Index was "largely inadequate." Similarly, the court observed that the Vaughn Index did not address a single document withheld, in full or in part, under Exemption 5, and that the agency declaration failed to describe the requested documents in detail. 

Apr. 12, 2016

Benjamin v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- determining that the agency properly relied upon Exemption 1 to withhold certain information from documents relating to the U.S. government's role in a June 1957 coup d'état in Haiti.

Robinson v. Drug Enforcement Agency (S.D. Miss.) -- dismissing lawsuit because plaintiff, a federal inmate, had knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to request his criminal case records as part of plea agreement.  

Apr. 11, 2016

Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Food & Drug Admin. (9th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that the FDA properly invoked Exemption 4 to protect certain commercial information pertaining to egg-production farms in Texas.  In a per curiam concurring opinion, however, the panel recommended that the Ninth Circuit reconsider its use of a deferential standard of review "in cases such as this one -- where the factual inquiry on which the summary judgment turns is one that does not depend on a review of withheld information."  

Apr. 8, 2016

Leopold v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C) -- finding that agency conducted an adequate search for various records pertaining to congressional inquiry into the CIA's alleged torture program.

Shapiro v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.)

Apr. 6, 2016

Davis v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (E.D.N.Y.) (Magistrate's Order) -- finding that the Federal Bureau of Prisons: conducted an adequate search for records and properly redacted the inmate names and register numbers pursuant to Exemption 7(C). 

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- holding that the agency had no duty to respond to plaintiff's request for "records that identify the number and names of all current and former" State Department officials "who used email addresses other than their assigned 'state.gov' email addresses to conduct official State Department business," because the request was really a question and not a request for existing records. 

Gatore v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D.D.C.) -- agreeing with agency that Exemption 5 applies to assessments of asylum applications, but ordering agency to perform segregability analysis of each document; denying plaintiff's request for attorney's fees because plaintiff failed to address whether it was eligible and entitled to such fees. 

Mar. 31, 2016

Ryan v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (D.D.C.) --  holding that agency conducted an adequate search for records concerning plaintiff, who alleged that he has been under constant FBI surveillance since shortly after September 11, 2001.

Giovanetti v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (D.D.C.) -- granting government's renewed motion for summary judgment after finding that FBI properly withheld records about plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, pursuant to Exemptions 3, 5, 6, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E).

Mar. 30, 2016

Center for Ethics & Responsibility in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- deciding that FBI properly invoked Exemptions 3, 5, 6, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E) to withheld records pertaining to investigation of former congressman Tom Delay.  Of note, the court permitted the FBI to assert Exemption 5 even though it had not raised the argument during prior proceedings. The court noted, however, that the agency "prevailed on this issue by the skin of its teeth."  The court further stated that it was "particularly displeased by defendant's misrepresentation in its brief in support of its second Motion for Summary Judgment that the FBI had withheld material pursuant to Exemption 5 in the first round of summary judgment . . . and defendant's failure to explain or take responsibility for the mishap here." 

Mar. 29, 2016

Weikamp v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy (N.D. Ohio) -- denying request for costs and attorney's fees after determining that agency's withholding of contract-related  information was not unreasonable and that other entitlement factors were neutral. 

Justice v. Mine Safety & Health Admin. (S.D. W. Va.) -- ruling that the agency properly relied upon Exemptions 5 and 7(C) to redact information from employee interviews concerning plaintiff's administrative complaint.     

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- granting limited discovery regarding the adequacy of the Department of State's search for requested records concerning Ambassador Rice's talking points on Benghazi attack. 

Envtl. Integrity Project v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency (D.D.C.) -- holding that Exemption 4 protected data submitted by businesses to help the agency to draft regulations and that the Clean Water Act did not displace the provisions of the FOIA. 

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the FBI properly withheld certain information responsive to plaintiff's nearly three dozen requests pursuant to Exemptions 3, 6, 7(A), 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E), but declining to dismiss certain claims after finding that plaintiff might not have received mail sent by the agency.  

Mar. 25, 2016

Sanchez-Alaniz v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the agency conducted an adequate search, properly withheld information under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F), and released all reasonably segregable information.  Further, the court found that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to one of his requests.

Goldstein v. Treasury Inspector Gen. for Tax Admin. (D.D.C.) -- finding that TIGTA failed to carry its burden of showing that Exemption 7(C) applied to records of investigation of certain IRS employees, but that same records fell within ambit of Exemption 6.   The court found, however, that TIGTA failed to provide sufficient details about the segregability of of records containing return or return information to which plaintiff might be entitled under 26 U.S.C. § 6103.  

Goldstein v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- ordering IRS to reprocess seven of ten categories of tax records requested by the heir of father's estate, but finding that agency properly withheld a telephone number under Exemption 6, a Discriminant Function score under Exemption 7(E), and corporate tax returns under 26 U.S.C. § 6103(e)(1)(D).  

Mar. 24, 2016

White v. McDonald (N.D. Okla.) -- dismissing action as moot because the Department of Veterans Affairs had produced all requested records to plaintiff subsequent to the filing of the lawsuit.

Edelman v. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n (D.D.C.) -- granting in part and denying in part the parties' motions for summary judgment concerning various records related to the Empire State Realty Trust, whose property holdings include the Empire State Building.  Of note procedurally, the court dismissed one claim because plaintiff had neglected to appeal the substantive determination issued by the agency upon remand from plaintiff's initial appeal, which merely disputed the lack of a response.  The court acknowledged that "there may be circumstances under which requiring an appeal after an agency remands a case to the processing officer would not further the purposes of the exhaustion requirement.  For instance, where an agency initially responds to a FOIA request on the merits, the requester appeals, and the agency issues the same response on remand, the requester might argue that the purposes of the exhaustion requirement would not be furthered by an additional—and arguably futile—appeal."  Further, the court rejected the agency's determination that the meeting notes of SEC attorneys constituted "personal records" rather than "agency records," employing the D.C. Circuit's "totality of the circumstances" test.  The court found that the SEC conducted reasonable searches and that, with the exception of one document, it had established that Exemption 5 protected certain withheld information.

Mar. 22, 2016

Forsythe v. U.S. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd. (E.D.N.Y.) -- adopting magistrate judge's report and recommendation because plaintiff failed to clearly object to the agency's specific withholdings.

Logan & Lowry, LLP v. U.S. Dep't of Interior (N.D. Okla.) -- ruling that the Office of Inspector General performed a reasonable search for responsive records and that plaintiff was neither eligible nor entitled to an award of fees notwithstanding it untimely production of records.

Klayman v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C.) --  determining that the CIA properly relied upon Exemptions 1 and 3 in refusing to confirm or deny the existence of records concerning an alleged CIA contractor against whom plaintiff had filed a civil lawsuit; rejecting plaintiff's argument that the agency had officially acknowledged the individual at issue as a CIA contractor.    

Mar. 21, 2016

Poulsen v. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D.D.C.) -- awarding plaintiff $22,588.50 in fees and $350 in costs for prevailing in lawsuit that sought access to Secret Service records about Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who committed suicide after being prosecuted by federal government; reducing requested amount by approximately 40 percent primarily because plaintiff relied upon incorrect matrix to calculate hourly rates.

A Better Way for BPA  v. U.S. Dep't of Energy Bonneville Power Admin. (W.D. Wa.) -- dismissing suit because the initial request was submitted by an individual who did not clearly state that she was acting on behalf of the requester; to the contrary, she indicated that the request was being made by an individual for personal use rather than by a company for use in its business.

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- awarding plaintiff $12,676 for attorney's fees and $462.87 for costs after obtaining ten pages of records that agency claimed -- but did not establish -- were merely duplicates; reducing number of hours calculated by plaintiff by 25 percent due to lack of billing judgment and further reducing his hourly rate from $300 to $200.   

Mar. 18, 2016

Sandy v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys (D.D.C.) -- determining that agency conducted a reasonable search, albeit in vain, for certain personnel records of a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted plaintiff in Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Mar. 17, 2016

Salmonson v. Internal Revenue Serv. Dep't of Treasury (M.D. Fla.) -- dismissing plaintiff's claim after determining that plaintiff failed to administratively appeal the agency's FOIA response; further ruling that plaintiff was not entitled to paper copies of records because he had previously accept a CD.   

Shapiro v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C.) -- finding that plaintiff's request to the CIA concerning Nelson Mandela might have been unreasonably burdensome, but agency failed to provide the court with evidence of burden; further finding that National Security Agency's Glomar response was proper with respect to any requested information concerning Nelson Mandela as an intelligence target, but that agency was required to search for all other records that plaintiff sought.

Mar. 15, 2016

Platsky v. FDA (2nd Cir.) -- summarily affirming district court's decision that FDA conducted a reasonable search.  

Bustillo v. U.S. Dep't of of Justice (D.D.C.) -- granting summary judgment in favor of Federal Bureau of Prisons because the agency provided access to all records responsive to plaintiff's requests.  

Mar. 14, 2016

Cooper v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that with the exception of one document, DOJ properly invoked Exemptions 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E) to withhold various records concerning plaintiff's prosecution for drug trafficking offenses.

Mar. 12, 2016

Thelen v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that government conducted a reasonable search for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case and properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemption 3 (grand jury material), Exemption 5 (attorney work-product privilege), and Exemptions 7(C), 7(D), 7(E), and 7(F).

Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd, LLP v. U.S. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n (M.D. Tenn.) -- concluding that the SEC properly relied on Exemption 7(A) to withhold records of government's investigation into whether Walmart bribed Mexican officials, notwithstanding fact that Walmart and a newspaper released records concerning the matter.

March 9, 2016

Ladeairous v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that it was reasonable for FBI to search for records concerning plaintiff by searching agency's main and cross-reference files by plaintiff's name and social security number.

Lowery v. Hart (E.D. Cal.) -- denying plaintiff's motion to set aside 1998 court decision concerning plaintiff's request for photographs of a experimental Piper Tomahawk aircraft, which plaintiff now alleges were deliberately hidden by an NTSB air safety investigator.

Orlansky v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- holding that Executive Office for United States.Attorneys properly invoked Exemption 5 to withhold records concerning the recusal of a U.S. Attorney from certain cases; further holding that EOUSA was not required to answer plaintiff's questions about why such recusal was necessary. 

March 7, 2016

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- dismissing suit to compel DOJ to publish the legal opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel pursuant to section 552(a)(2) of FOIA, because plaintiff brought its suit under the Administrative Procedure Act instead of FOIA.   

Am. Ass'n of Women, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the FBI properly withheld records pertaining to the subject matter of a Los Angeles Times article pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3 , 6, 7(A), 7(C), 7(D), and (7)(E).  The court further ruled that plaintiff failed to establish that the FBI had officially acknowledged or disclosed the requested records.

March 4, 2016

Competitive Enter. Inst. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency (D.D.C.) -- denying without prejudice EPA's motion for summary judgment because EPA failed to demonstrate that it timely responded to plaintiff's administrative appeal before plaintiff filed suit; ordering EPA to provide a technical and complete explanation of the technology used to process plaintiff's appeal, including an explanation of how EPA received plaintiff's appeal only four days after plaintiff emailed it.   

March 3, 2016

Rozema v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. (N.D.N.Y.) -- finding that the FDA properly withheld certain information regarding the quantities of menthol contained in cigarettes pursuant to Exemption 3, in conjunction with 21 U.S.C. § 387f(c), as well as Exemption 4. Notably, in reaching its Exemption 4 determination, the court expressly declined to adopt the Critical Mass test.

March 2, 2016

Schultz v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (E.D. Cal.) -- determining that the FBI properly relied upon Exemptions 7(C) and 7(D) to protect records concerning two confidential informants involved in plaintiff's criminal case.

Garcia v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the USCIS adequately searched for records of an agency adjudication on plaintiff's application in 1981 for lawful-permanent-resident status.

Feb. 29, 2016

Navigators Ins. Co. v. Dep't of Justice (D. Conn.) -- concluding that a supplemental declaration filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut established that the agency conducted a reasonable search. 

Feb. 25, 2016

Pair v. Soc. Sec. Admin. (D. Md.) -- dismissing plaintiff's suit seeking records concerning a nine-digit alphanumeric code on the back of his Social Security card, because the agency averred that no responsive records existed.   According to SSA, the number is merely a control number used by the vendor who provides the cards to SSA to prevent fraud and counterfeiting; it has no public use.    

Henderson v. Office of the Dir. of Nat'l Intelligence (D.D.C.) -- holding that ODNI and the Office of Personnel Management properly relied upon Exemption 7(E) to redact certain information from their jointly issued "Federal Investigative Standards," which sets forth the standards for security and suitability background investigations of federal employees.

Feb. 24, 2016

Muchnick v. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (N.D. Cal.) -- finding that agency's Vaughn Index and declaration were not descriptive enough to justify withholding records concerning George Gibney, a former Olympic swim coach charged with sexual abuse.   

Feb, 23, 2016

Peeler v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (D. Conn.) -- determining that the FBI conducted a reasonable search in response to prisoner's request for records associated with his personal pager number.

Feb. 22, 2016

Woods v. Elec. Surveillance Unit (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the Department of Justice's Criminal Division properly withheld electronic surveillance records from prisoner pursuant to Exemption 3, in conjunction with 18 U.S.C. §§ 2517 and 2518(8)(b), as well as Exemption 5 (deliberative process and attorney work product privileges).  

Lapp v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (N.D.W.Va.) -- finding that the FBI properly withheld certain fingerprint-related information pursuant to Exemption 7(E) and that it conducted an adequate search. 

Feb. 17, 2016

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. Custom & Border Protection (D.D.C.) -- denying agency's summary judgment motion with respect to records concerning the Analytical Framework for Intelligence system.  The court found that the agency's declaration was deficient because: (1) it provided only a categorical description of the material withheld, without providing any exhibits or page references to allow the court to assess the agency's withholdings; (2) it did not sufficiently describe the underlying law enforcement techniques and procedures that the agency seeks to protect.

Mitchell v. Samuels (D.D.C.) -- ruling that plaintiff failed to establish that the Federal Bureau of Prisons had received his FOIA request, which the agency averred was not reflected in its FOIA tracking database. In reaching its decision, the court held that plaintiff's production of a copy of his FOIA request and a USPS tracking number was not sufficient evidence to deny the government's motion for summary judgment. 

Feb. 16, 2016

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the Office of Information Policy performed adequate searches in response to requests for various records from the Attorney General's office, but that it improperly withheld -- under Exemption 6 -- the name and identifying information of a third-party who submitted a letter of recommendation in support of Charles Samuels for the position of BOP Director. 

Feb. 12, 2016

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.C. Cir.) -- holding that a court order concerning settlement discussions between U.S. House and DOJ with respect to "Fast and Furious" records was too ambiguous on its face to justify withholding requested records; remanding the case to district court for further proceedings, i.e., to clarify the meaning of the court order in question. 

Feb. 11, 2016

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling on remand from D.C. Circuit that plaintiff offered sufficient to support the court's use of "LSI-adjusted rates" in calculating award of attorneys' fees.

Feb. 10, 2016

Competitive Enter. Inst. v. Office of Sci. & Tech. Policy (D.D.C) -- finding that: (1) draft versions of agency's final response to plaintiff's Information Quality Act request were properly withheld under deliberative process privilege; (2) agency failed to demonstrate that its communications with a Rutgers University professor fell within the "consultant corollary" principle to the deliberative process privilege; and (3) deliberative process privilege did not protect email discussions of video in which an agency employee had expressed personal opinions.

Feb. 9, 2016

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the FBI conducted an adequate search for records pertaining to its use of drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and that the agency properly withheld information pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7(E).

Feb. 8, 2016

Davis v. U.S. Dep't of the Air Force (D. Mont.) -- granting agency's unopposed motion for summary judgment in case in which agency withheld records of espionage investigation pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 7(E); declining to enter a finding that the agency's espionage investigation was "groundless." 

Feb. 5, 2016

Conservation Force v. Jewell (D.D.C.) -- ruling that plaintiff was ineligible for attorneys' fees because it did not obtain court-ordered relief on the merits of its FOIA claims or receive relief from the agency that it would not have obtained but for the lawsuit.  In reaching its decision, the court held that ordering an agency to prepare a Vaughn Index does not constitute judicial relief.    

Bloomgarden v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys properly relied on Exemption 6 (but not Exemption 7(C)) to withhold disciplinary records concerning the Assistant United States Attorney who had been removed from plaintiff's criminal case in 1995.

Feb. 4, 2016

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the government's declarations were too broad in scope for court to make a determination about the information withheld from records concerning a now-expired national security program. 

Feb. 3, 2016

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Auth. v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior (E.D. Cal.) -- rejecting plaintiff's argument that the government had waived its ability to withhold any requested records pertaining to the subject matter of a final agency opinion that had been released in full.

Feb. 2, 2016

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Def. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the agency properly relied on the deliberative process privilege to redact a memorandum relating to transfer five Guantanamo Bay detainees to the state of Qatar in exchange for the return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.  In reaching its decision, the court rejected plaintiff's argument that the agency had adopted, incorporated, or relied upon the memorandum so as to lose the protection of the privilege.  

Polk v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (N.D. Cal.) -- denying plaintiff's motion under Rule 60(b) of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for relief from decision granting summary judgment to agency.

Feb. 1, 2016

Kalu v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- holding that the FBI properly relied upon Exemption 7(E) in refusing to confirm or deny the existence of records indicating whether plaintiff was on an agency "watch list." 

Jan. 29, 2016

Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Serv. (D. Colo.) -- finding that: (1)  the agency mistakenly interpreted plaintiff's request as seeking external communications only and was required to search for internal communications; (2) the agency failed to perform an adequate search for the the external communications sought; (3) a portion of records withheld under Exemption 5 were justified, but that agency's Vaughn Index was insufficient with respect to other withheld records; (4) plaintiff conceded the agency's withholdings under Exemption 6; (5) plaintiff's allegations of agency bad faith and a  "pattern and practice" of violating FOIA were not justified by the record.  

Henderson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys conducted an adequate search for certain records concerning plaintiff's criminal case and that it properly withheld identifying information about third parties pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C).  

Jan. 28, 2016

Inst. for Policy Studies v. U.S. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C.) -- granting the government's request to reconsider the court's August 19, 2015 decision, and concluding that the CIA need not search its "operational files" in response to plaintiff's request.

Lucaj v. U.S. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (E.D. Mich.) -- ruling that the Department of Justice (DOJ) properly invoked Exemption 5 and 7(C) to protect requested records about the government's involvement in plaintiff's arrest in Vienna, Austria.  Of note, the court held that communications between DOJ and two foreign governments qualified as "inter-agency" for Exemption 5 purposes because the foreign governments had a common interest with the United States. 

Competitive Enterprise Inst.  v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency (D.D.C.) -- dismissing plaintiff's action as moot because the parties had resolved the underlying dispute set forth in the complaint, namely the propriety of EPA's production schedule (100 of 120,000 pages monthly).  The court rejected plaintiff's argument that the complaint sought to challenge the agency's redactions or that plaintiff alleged or demonstrated a "pattern or practice" of violating FOIA by "slow-walking" requests.       

Jan. 27, 2016

Petrucelli v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys properly relied on Exemption 7(C) to redact the identities of FBI personnel, witnesses, and plaintiff's attorney from correspondence between the plaintiff's criminal defense counsel and government prosecutors.  

Donoghue v. Office of Info. Policy (D.D.C.) -- finding that the FBI demonstrated that it conducted an adequate search for information responsive to pro se prisoner's FOIA request and that it maintained no responsive records.

Jan. 26, 2016

Main St. Legal Servs., Inc. v. Nat'l Sec. Council (2nd Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that the NSC -- the Council and the NSC System generally -- is not an agency subject to FOIA.  In reaching its decision, the Second Circuit relied, in part, upon the statutory function of the Council, which is solely advisory to, and not independent of, the President. 

Ewell v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the Criminal Division conducted an adequate search for wiretap records concerning plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, and that the agency properly withheld all records pursuant to Exemption 3 (18 U.S.C. § 2518) and Exemption 5 (attorney work-product).

Jan. 22, 2016

Shapiro v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- denying the parties' summary judgment motions in case involving various documents that the FBI creates while processing FOIA requests, namely search slips, processing notes, and case evaluation forms.  Notably, the court rejected the FBI's policy of using Exemption 7(E) to withhold search slips and processing notes generated in response to FOIA requests submitted in the past 25 years for information contained in investigative files.  The court further held that the FBI could not categorically withhold case evaluation forms under Exemption 2, but that it could redact the names of individual analysts under Exemption 6.

Jan. 21, 2016

Morley v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.C. Cir.) -- vacating for a second time the district court's decision that appellant was not entitled to an attorney's fee award with respect to his request for records about CIA officer George E. Joannides.  In rejecting the district court's analysis, the D.C. Circuit clarified that "the public-benefit factor requires an ex ante assessment of the potential public value of the information requested, with little or no regard to whether any documents supplied prove to advance the public interest." 

Al Azzawi v. Dep't of the Army (E.D. Cal.) -- recommendation from magistrate judge to dismiss case because plaintiff failed to submit an administrative appeal to the agency.

Jan. 15, 2016

Nat'l Sec. Counselors v. Cent. Intelligence Agency & U.S. Dep't of Def. (D.C. Cir.) -- holding that appellant was eligible for attorney's fees because it was a bona fide corporation with a legally recognized, distinct identity from the natural person who acted as its lawyer; reversing decision of the district court, which had viewed appellant as essentially a "one-man operation."  

Jan. 12, 2016

Bethea v. U.S. Dep't of Agric. (D.S.C.) (magistrate) -- recommending summary judgment in government's favor after finding that USDA had conducted a reasonable search and released in full all records that it located in response to pro se prisoner's request. 

Pebble Ltd. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency (D. Alaska) -- holding that the EPA properly invoked Exemption 5 to withhold draft assessments and internal emails relating to plaintiff's plans to extract minerals from the Pebble Mine deposit in Southwest Alaska.

Jan. 8, 2016

Schwartz v. Drug Enforcement Admin. (E.D.N.Y) -- ordering the release of a video taken by a government surveillance plane depicting a drug interdiction operation in Honduras, rejecting the agency's reliance upon Exemption 7(E) except with respect to one redaction.

Jett v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (D.D.C.) -- denying government's motion for reconsideration of court's decision that FBI's search had been inadequate.  Specifically, the court held that FBI could not categorically refuse to search for third-party records involving public corruption in a congressional election in light of D.C. Circuit precedent.  Further, the court found that FBI failed to offer any new evidence as to why it did not search its electronic surveillance files for telephone records. 

Jan. 7, 2016

Estate of Abduljaami v. U.S. Dep't of State (S.D.N.Y.) -- determining that agency conducted a reasonable search for records concerning death of an individual in Cologne, Germany, and that disputed information was properly protected under Exemption 6.  

Polk v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (N.D. Cal.) -- holding that FBI conducted a reasonable search in response to pro se prisoner's request for records concerning a file number that plaintiff mistakenly believed was evidence of an FBI investigation concerning her.

Jan. 5, 2016

Navigators Ins. Co. v. Dep't of Justice (D. Conn.) -- ruling that plaintiff was not entitled to declaratory relief merely because the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys had failed to timely process plaintiff's requests, even though the agency delays were "egregious."  The court further rejected plaintiff's argument that "public interest"  was sufficient to overcome Exemption 7(C)  or any other asserted exemptions.  The court,  however, declined to grant summary judgment for the government because  its "meager" declaration failed to demonstrate that it had conducted an adequate search.  

Jan. 4, 2016

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, failed to establish that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) received 19 of his 70 requests. Of the remaining 28 requests in dispute, the court granted in part and denied in part BOP's argument that plaintiff failed to appeal or to pay required fees with respect to several requests.  The court further found that BOP conducted an adequate search in response to certain requests, but not others.  Lastly, the court held that BOP properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 5, 6, 7(C), 7(E), and 7(F).   

Dec. 23, 2015

Baird v. Dep't of the Interior (E.D. La.) -- ruling that the government performed an adequate search in response to employee's request for records relating to his Civil Rights Act complaints and that disputed redactions were protected under the deliberative process privilege.  

Dec. 22, 2015

Abtew v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that an asylum officer's recommendation to a supervisor was exempt under the deliberative process privilege; rejecting appellant's arguments that DHS had adopted the recommendation as a final decision or that DHS was estopped from invoking privilege given  prior disclosures of the same document in other cases.   

Dec. 18, 2015

Snyder v. Dep't of Def. (N.D. Cal.) -- ruling that the Defense Logistics Agency had released certain responsive computer code information to plaintiff and therefore his claim for relief was moot; further ruling that DLA properly withheld other computer code information as critical infrastructure security information pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with 10 U.S.C. §130e. 

Carlson v. U.S. Postal Serv. (N.D. Cal.) -- finding that spreadsheets indicating the number of transactions at given Postal Service locations in half-hour increments were properly withheld under Exemption 3, in conjunction with 39 U.S.C. § 410(c)(2), which exempts from disclosure Postal Service records that are of a commercial nature and would not be disclosed under good business practice.

Bartko v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the FBI properly withheld all but six pages of requested records concerning plaintiff's conviction pursuant to Exemptions 3 (grand jury), 6, and 7(C); rejecting agency's relince upon Exemption 7(E) altogether.    

Bagwell v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- denying government's motion for summary judgment in case involving records of DOJ's investigation of Pennsylvania State University sex abuse scandal.   The court held that the government's declarations and Vaughn Index were insufficient to assess whether the search was adequate or whether the withheld records were protected under Exemption 3 (grand jury).

Dec. 14, 2015

Long v. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (D.D.C.) -- holding that certain immigration information requested from government databases met the threshold requirements of Exemption 7(E), but finding that plaintiff raised genuine issues of fact as to whether disclosure would cause the harms identified by government.  The court further rejected the government's argument that the same information was exempt pursuant to the Federal Information Security Management Act ("Management Act"), 44 U.S.C. §§ 3541-49.  The court ruled in government's favor with respect to requested "snapshot" database information, because the agency established that fulfilling the request would be overly burdensome.  Lastly, the court determined that the agency performed an adequate search for responsive records.

Dec. 10, 2015

Harmon v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury (S.D. Ind.) -- dismissing case because plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies for any of his four requests to the Internal Revenue Service.

Dec. 8, 2015

AAR Airlift Grp., Inc. v. U.S. Transp. Command (D.D.C. 2015) -- remanding a reverse-FOIA case in which plaintiff seeks to prevent disclosure of line-item pricing from a contract between the parties.  The court found that the agency's determination was arbitrary and capricious because the agency misinterpreted plaintiff's administrative correspondence.

Dec. 2, 2015

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- granting in part and denying in part agency's motion for summary judgment concerning request for an immigration file and related correspondence from agency field office. First, the court held that the agency's declarant was not required to have personally participated in the search for responsive records in order to have requisite personal knowledge of the search.  Second, the court held that the agency conducted an adequate search and that it was not required to explain why it did not search search in certain locations.  Third, the court found that USCIS had not discharged its FOIA obligations because four pages that it referred to the U.S. Department of State had not yet been processed.  Lastly, the court ordered USCIS to submit a new Vaughn Index to address various deficiencies, including withholdings under Exemption 5 and segregability. 

Nov. 30. 2015

Boyd v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys (D.D.C.) -- determining that the agency:  (1) properly withheld records of interviews of third parties pursuant to Exemption 6 and 7(C); (2) properly withheld a "Conflict of Interest Certification" form under Exemption 3, in conjunction with 5 U.S.C. app. 4 § 107(a)(2); (3) properly withheld the first page of a letter concerning grand jury's investigation under Rule 6 (e) of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, but that agency improperly relied on same privilege to withhold remaining pages; (4) properly withheld the remaining pages of aforementioned letter under Exemptions 5 and 7(C), except for one sentence that court deemed non-exempt.   

Nov. 25, 2015

Virginia-Pilot Media Cos. v. Dep't of Justice (E.D. Va.) -- finding that the FBI conducted an adequate search for responsive records and properly invoked Exemptions 5, 7(E), and 7(F), but declaring that plaintiff was prevailing party for purposes of attorney's fees because lawsuit was necessary to prompt agency's response.   

Nov. 24, 2015

Aguiar v. Drug Enforcement Admin. (D.D.C.) -- concluding that GPS mapping software used by the DEA at plaintiff's criminal trial is not an agency record; further ruling that plaintiff's inability to access DEA-released information on a compact disk due to prison security rules could not be remedied via FOIA.  

Tipograph v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that plaintiff lacked standing to pursue her claim that the FBI maintains a policy of improperly invoking FOIA Exemption 7(A) at the investigative-file level rather than at the record level.  The court rejected the FBI's alternative argument that plaintiff's claim was moot.  

Nov. 23, 2015

Havemann v. Colvin (4th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that the Social Security Administration performed an adequate search in response to a large-scale request concerning allegedly underpaid beneficiaries, and that the requested data was either released or properly withheld under Exemption 6.  The Fourth Circuit rejected appellant's contentions that the public interest outweighed any privacy interests or that the district court "improperly considered affidavits from a previous case, erroneously relied upon interested 'experts,' and considered affidavits that were merely speculative."

Nov. 19, 2015

Thompson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C) -- ruling that the Criminal Division conducted a reasonable search for information related to court-authorized wiretap surveillance in connection with plaintiff's criminal case.  The court found that the agency performed a reasonable search and properly withheld seven categories of documents pursuant to the attorney-work-product privilege.  Despite prevailing, the government was chided by the court for failing to identify three FOIA lawsuits of plaintiff's criminal co-defendants as "related cases" and for copying 15 pages from its summary judgment motion and pasting them into its reply brief.    

Nolen v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- holding that FBI performed an adequate search for records concerning Martin Droll, a deceased socialist writer and organizer.  The court concluded that the agency was not required to search the files of organizations with whom the subject was affiliated, because plaintiff failed to identify those organizations in his request.  Additionally, the court held that the FBI field offices located where plaintiff was born and died were not required as a matter of course to search for records.  

Nov. 17, 2015

Kohake v. Dep't of the Treasury (6th Cir.) -- affirming lower court's decision that Internal Revenue Service conducted a reasonable search for records concerning the Estate of William Meadors, which allegedly holds vast fortunes to which plaintiff claims she is entitled.  In reaching its decision, the Sixth Circuit held that the IRS was not required to search for certain records maintained by a U.S. Attorney's Office or county courthouse.    

Am. Civil Liberties Union of N. Cal. v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (N.D. Cal.) -- finding that FBI failed to show that the attorney-client privilege justified the agency's redactions of 'Human Source Advisory Notices" or the complete withholding of "FAQs for Threat Assessments."  The court further found that FBI improperly relied on the deliberative process privilege to withhold a red-lined version of a "training FAQ," stating that FBI had not demonstrated that "advice about whether a comma should be inserted, word choice, or phrasing would discourage members of the Bureau from providing candid advice about the pros and cons of adopting a policy or practice."

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Nov. 16, 2015

Slaughter v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (E.D. Pa) -- dismissing case for lack of standing because plaintiff did not submit the FOIA request at issue; rather, the request was submitted by plaintiff's attorney in his own name and failed to mention plaintiff at all.

Glapion v. Castro (D. Colo.) -- concluding that Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted an adequate search and that it properly withheld: (1) disciplinary information of agency employees under Exemption 6, and (2) communications between agency officials pertaining to plaintiff under Exemption 5 (deliberative process and attorney-client privileges).  The court also dismissed several claims because plaintiff had failed to administratively appeal the agency's responses. 

Nov. 13, 2015

Mobley v. CIA (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision involving requests for records about plaintiff's detention in Yemen.  The D.C Circuit upheld the adequacy of the FBI's search, rejecting plaintiff's argument that the agency was required to search certain records systems merely because plaintiff had asked it to do so.  The Court also rejected plaintiff's contention that the FBI and CIA had waived Exemption 1 by providing certain information to the Yemeni government, which subsequently provided the information to a party that filed it in court.  Further, the Court rejected plaintiff's argument that the FBI had failed to properly classify certain records.   

Nov. 10, 2015

Allison v. U.S. Marshals Serv. (D. Idaho) -- ruling in government's favor after finding that:  (1) requested police records were not in agency's possession and that a sealed court record was not improperly withheld; and (2) plaintiff failed to administratively appeal agency's search methodology or its exemption claims with respect to remaining requested records.

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- granting in part and denying in part summary judgment motion of the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys.  The court found that plaintiff had failed to appeal certain agency responses, but held that plaintiff was not required to appeal responses that the agency had made after plaintiff filed his initial Complaint.  The court further held that EOUSA's declaration failed to demonstrate that the agency's search was adequate, noting the declaration's description of the search was "so general that it could describe virtually any search undertaken in response to a FOIA request."

Nov. 6, 2015

Elec. Frontier Found. v. U.S. Dep't of Commerce (9th Cir.) -- vacating and remanding district's decision that export licensing records were not protected by the Export Administration Act of 1979, which had expired in 2001, in light of the enactment of a law after the district court's decision that appeared to retroactively revive the Act.  

Nov. 4, 2015

Gawker Media, LLC v. FBI (M.D. Fla.) -- granting in part and denying in part the government's motion for summary judgment concerning plaintiff's request for records concerning investigation of extortion involving "Hulk Hogan" sex tape.  The court granted government's Exemption 6 claims with respect to Hulk Hogan's family members, but denied those claims for individuals who had voluntarily publicized their involvement, the names of private attorneys, and certain government employees.  The court further found that the government had properly invoked Exemptions 3, 5, and 7(E).  However, the court reserved ruling on certain exemption claims made by the Executive Office of United States Attorneys pending an in camera review of records.    

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- denying the parties' motions for summary judgment and ordering the government to submit a revised Vaughn Index that "more clearly identifies each redaction within the documents and clearly explains the relevance of each applied exemption, in particular exemption (k)(2)" of the Privacy Act. 

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- ruling that plaintiff was ineligible for attorneys' fees and costs because plaintiff presented no evidence to show that the ultimate disclosure of the requested documents -- two months after the FOIA request -- resulted from the filing of his lawsuit, rather than merely administrative problems.

Nov. 3, 2015

Bothwell v. Brennan (N.D. Cal.) -- concluding that the Central Intelligence Agency conducted an adequate search of its operational files for records generated in 1976 concerning Johnny Roselli.  In reaching its decision, the court rejected plaintiff's argument that the CIA should have searched and reviewed the actual, hard-copy paper files after the agency found no responsive records through inquiries of its electronic databases.

Oct. 30, 2015

Dean v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that Drug Enforcement Administration performed an adequate search for a "cooperating individual agreement" that was used to prosecute plaintiff in 1991; noting that DEA was not required to "undertake 'fruitless' inquiries" to former employees of Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security.    

Springer v. U.S. Attorney for the N. Dist. of Okla. (N.D. Okla.) -- granting government's summary judgment after finding that Executive Office for United States Attorneys had provided plaintiff with all non-exempt records and performed a reasonable search.

Electric Frontier Found. v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C., 2015) -- ruling that an opinion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was exempt from disclosure under Exemptions 1 and 3 because the opinion was properly classified and because its disclosure was prohibited by 50 U.S.C. §§ 3605, 3024(i)(1).  The court rejected the government's argument that plaintiff's action was barred by collateral estoppel; it further rejected plaintiff's argument that the government had waived its right to withhold the requested record.   

Oct. 27, 2015

Citizens for Ethics & Responsibility in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- awarding plaintiff $32,865.19 for attorneys' fee and costs in connection with its request concerning John Ensign, former Senator from Nevada. The court reduced plaintiff's request for $64,327.40 after determining that plaintiff relied upon an inappropriate matrix to calculate hourly attorney rates, that a portion of plaintiff's fee motion was unsuccessful, and that plaintiff failed to adhere to standards for contemporaneous timekeeping.  

Piccone v. U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (E.D. Va.) -- determining that USPTO performed a reasonable search for records concerning its investigation of plaintiff, an attorney who the prosecuted cases before the agency even though his law license had been suspended.  

Oct. 23, 2015

Hajro v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (9th Cir.) -- reversing district court's ruling that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a "pattern and practice" of violating FOIA response deadlines.

Oct. 21, 2015

Our Children's Earth Found. v. Nat'l Marine Fisheries Serv. (N.D. Cal.) -- ruling that: (1) the agency conducted an adequate search and that it was not required to submit declarations from each employee who participated in the search; (2) a low-level employee's "draft chart and summary" sent to senior employee was withheld appropriately pursuant to the deliberative process privilege; (3) the agency established that it had released non-exempt, reasonably segregable factual information from certain records, but that an 11-page document could not be withheld in full under the attorney-client privilege merely because the document had been sent to an agency attorney for review; (4) the agency appropriately used search cut-off dates based upon when its principal subject matter expert initiated searches, but noting that "a better policy is the search start date of each individual [subject matter expert]"; and (5) plaintiff was entitled to declaratory relief (and limited injunctive relief) as a result of agency's pattern and practice of failing to meet FOIA deadlines.

Oct. 20, 2015

Gahagan v. U.S. Customs & Border Prot. (E.D. La.) -- rejecting agency's argument that an "I-826" form that was released to plaintiff with unmarked redactions was not responsive to plaintiff's request, and ordering agency to submit a revised Vaughn index to account for the withholdings; further finding that the agency's declaration was admissible because the declarant had requisite personal knowledge about the processing of the request.  

Oct. 19, 2015

Windham v. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev. (D. Mass.) -- concluding that the agency performed a reasonable search in response to plaintiff's request for records concerning JP Morgan Chase's mortgage loan on plaintiff's home.   

Oct. 14, 2015

Aqualliance v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (D.D.C.) -- finding that agency properly invoked Exemption 9 to withhold information regarding the construction, location, and depth of water wells; rejecting plaintiff's argument that the exemption applied to oil and gas wells only.  The court further found that Exemption 6 did not justify the agency's redaction of the names and addresses of various participants in water transfer programs, participants in real water valuations, and well owners because plaintiff demonstrated that the public interest in disclosure outweighed the privacy interest at stake.

Sack v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the FBI properly withheld:  (a) records relating to the selection process for FBI Polygraph Examiners under Exemption 2; (b) a recommendation concerning the feasibility of hiring non-agent polygraph examiners under Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege); and (c) information about procedures and techniques used by FBI agents to conduct polygraph examinations pursuant to Exemption 7(E).  

Oct. 7, 2015

Dugan v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) --  granting government's unopposed motion for summary judgment after finding that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives properly withheld Firearms Trace Summaries and tax return information withheld under Exemption 3; attorney work product under Exemption 5; third-party identifying information under Exemptions 6 and 7(C)); specific law enforcement techniques, TECS codes and TECS file numbers under Exemption 7(E); and third-party information under Exemption 7(F) for personal safety reasons.

Sept. 30, 2015

Kaplan v. Ebert (M.D. Pa.) -- dismissing lawsuit because plaintiff failed to file administrative appeals before filing Complaint. 

Hertz Schram PC v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (E.D. Mich.) -- accepting magistrate's recommendation to deny plaintiff an award of attorney's fees.  The court concluded that plaintiff was neither eligible nor entitled to fees because the agency has begun processing the request before the lawsuit was filed, the agency acted reasonably in withholding certain records, and plaintiff had a commercial interest in pursuing the lawsuit.   

Canning v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- upholding agency's Exemption 1 withholdings except for: (a) certain unclassified portions of two partially redacted documents, which the court ordered to be released, and (b) documents classified after submission of FOIA request, for which the court sought additional information.  The court further upheld agency's withholdings under Exemptions 5 (deliberative process privilege) and 6.

Francis v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency (D.D.C.) -- determining that FHFA conducted a reasonable search of its files and that it was not obligated to search Fannie Mae's files even though FHFA is Fannie Mae's conservator.    

Stein v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) FBI's case evaluation forms were properly withheld under Exemption 2 because they are maintained in administrative personnel files "'for purposes of tracking and evaluating the performance of employees who process FOIA and Privacy Act requests'"; (2) FBI properly withheld its "Automated Case Support Basic Reference Guide" pursuant to Exemption 7(E); (3) the Civil Division properly withheld several monographs pursuant to Exemption 5 (attorney work-product privilege); (4) Executive Office for United States Attorneys "applied an unnecessarily hypertechnical reading" of plaintiff's request for records "in the USABook Desktop Library maintained by the DOJ Office of Legal Education indexed under the topic 'Freedom of Information;'" (5) FBI did not justify its reliance on Exemption 7(D) for 28 of 29 pages concerning Christopher Hitchens; and (6) FBI properly denied plaintiff's request for a fee waiver with respect to approximately 10,000 pages concerning Gwen Todd.   

Ctr. for Auto Safety v. U.S. Dep't of Treasury (D.D.C.) -- holding that agency and intervenor failed to provide adequate Vaughn indices with respect to Exemption 4 withholdings pertaining to 2009 bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.   

Argus Leader Media v. U.S. Dep't of Agric. (D.S.D.) -- finding that the Food and Nutrition Service had not justified its use of Exemptions 4 and 6 to withhold certain food stamp program information derived from retail stores.  In analyzing the prospect of competitive harm, the court took into consideration that only 323 of 321,988 potential retailers responded to the agency's submitter notice.   

N.Y. Times Co. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (S.D.N.Y.) -- holding that: (1) FBI's witness statements were protected by attorney work-product privilege because they revealed an attorney's strategic impressions and mental processes; (2) all memoranda at issue were covered by the attorney work-product privilege, the doctrine of "express incorporation" applies to and waives that privilege, and one of four memoranda -- a declination to prosecute -- had been expressly incorporated, at least in part, in agency's final decision.    

Freedom Watch, Inc. v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.D.C.) -- dismissing NSA from multi-defendant lawsuit concerning records of shoot-down of a military helicopter in Afghanistan because plaintiff failed to appeal NSA's determinations; rejecting plaintiff's argument that appealing would have been futile or that a "futility" exception to appeal requirement even exists. 

Aguiar v, Drug Enforcement Admin. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that DEA performed an adequate search for certain administrative subpoenas and that third party's GPS mapping software utilized by the DEA is not an "agency record."  The court also found from an in camera review that DEA's uncontested withholdings were proper.   

Am. Civil Liberties Union of S. Cal. v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (D.D.C.) -- deciding that: (1) national security concerns underlying agency's Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program was sufficient to meet Exemption 7's law enforcement threshold; (2) USCIS properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemption 7(E), but that it failed to adequately explain that exemption's applicability to other records; (3) USCIS performed an adequate search for responsive records; (4) USCIS improperly determined that certain records were outside the scope of request; and (5) USCIS reasonably segregated and released all non-exempt information.  

Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Serv. (D. Colo.) -- concluding that the Forest Service unreasonably limited its search and that agency justified its withholdings under Exemption 5 for only certain records. 

Sept. 29, 2015

Spears v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Criminal Division conducted a reasonable search for requested telephone wiretap records and that it properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemptions 3, 5, 6 and 7(C).  

Riddick v. Holland (D.D.C.) -- determining that Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys conducted an adequate search for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case, that it properly withheld responsive records under attorney work-product and deliberative process privileges, and that it properly closed plaintiff's requests after plaintiff failed to pay fees after exhausting two hours of free search time.   

Unrow Human Rights Impact Litig. Clinic v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C) -- ruling that requested diplomatic cable was properly withheld under Exemption 1; rejecting plaintiff's waiver argument that agency had acknowledged authenticity of a cable published by newspaper.

Coleman v. Drug Enforcement Admin. (D.D.C.) -- finding that agency's search was sufficient except for agency's failure to search the one office;  further finding that plaintiff was not entitled to a fee waiver determination because agency had provided documents free of charge and plaintiff did not establish likelihood of future injury.  

Bryson v. Susan B. Gerson & U.S. Dep't of Justice (E.D. Cal.) -- dismissing lawsuit because plaintiff failed to pay the fees associated with his request and failed to administratively appeal after agency closed the request for non-payment. 

Sept. 28, 2015

Evans v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior & Nat'l Park Serv. (N.D. Ind.) -- granting government's motion for summary judgment after determining that: (1) plaintiff failed to file administrative appeals for several requests; (2) agency conducted a reasonable request for remaining requested records; and (3) agency properly withheld certain records pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 7(E). 

Coss v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the FBI conducted an adequate search for a requested notebook pertaining to plaintiff's criminal case; noting that DEA, not FBI, was involved in plaintiff's drug trafficking conviction.  

Campbell v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Criminal Division properly relied upon the attorney-work product privilege to withhold documents related to court-authorized wiretaps in pending drug conspiracy cases in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Sept. 25, 2015

Bigwood v. U.S. Dep't of Def. (D.D.C.) -- adopting magistrate's findings that the Dep't of Defense: (1) conducted an adequate search for requested records concerning a coup d'état in Honduras; (2) properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 7(E); and (3) produced all reasonably segregable, non-exempt records.  The court further agreed with magistrate's recommendation to deny plaintiff's request for an in camera inspection of records, as well as his motion to file a sur-reply.     

Hall v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons (D.D.C.) -- determining that agency-defendants performed reasonable searches for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case and that Exemption 7(C) was properly invoked to withhold name of a grand jury foreman.   

Kleinert v. Bureau of Land Mgmt. (D.D.C.) -- deciding that neither party was entitled to summary judgment except with respect to limited amounts of information that the court ordered to be released or withheld.  The court otherwise concluded that the agency had not adequately described its search or justified its withholdings under Exemptions 5, 6, and 7(C). 

Whitmore v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys conducted an adequate search for records about plaintiff's criminal case and that it properly withheld the identities of special agents and the direct phone number of the prosecutor under Exemption 7(C).  

McKneely v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the Drug Enforcement Administration performed a reasonable search fir records concerning plaintiff's criminal case and that it properly withheld certain information under Exemptions 7(C), 7(D), 7(E), and 7(F).

Intellectual Property Watch v. U.S. Trade Rep. (S.D.N.Y) -- in case involving records of Trans-Pacific Partnership (a free trade agreement), the court granted in part and denied in part the parties' motions for summary judgment.  The court found that USTR properly invoked Exemption 1 to protect decision memoranda, draft agreement text, and certain communications between USTR and Industry Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) that reflected U.S. positions and proposals that were shared with foreign counterparties.  With respect to other agency-ITAC communications, however, the court rejected USTR's reliance on deliberative process privilege and granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment after concluding that ITAC was neither an agency nor a disinterested consultant.  Lastly, the court found that neither party was entitled to summary judgment with respect to agency-ITAC communications that were withheld pursuant to Exemption 3in conjunction with 19 U.S.C. § 2155(g) and/or Exemption 4.     

Sept, 23, 2015

Rojas-Vega v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Serv. (D.D.C) -- upholding government's use of Exemptions 5, 6, 7(C), and 7(E) to withhold certain information pertaining to plaintiff's criminal conviction.

Sept. 22, 2015

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs (D.D.C.) -- deciding not to impose sanctions against the VA or its counsel after finding that their litigation tactics in FOIA case were not motivated by bad faith.  The court noted, however, that it remained "troubled by the cumulative effect of the decisions made along the way" by the government, namely the "multiplication of briefings and depositions," for which plaintiff was entitled to attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses. 

Sept. 21, 2015

Fowlkes v.  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys conducted an adequate search for criminal records concerning plaintiff; further finding that ATF properly withheld a firearm trace report (Exemption 3)] and codes and files numbers from a law enforcement information system (Exemption 7(E)).  The court, however, rejected the government's argument that the name of a judge who convened a grand jury could be protected under Exemption 7(C).

Elkins. v. Fed. Aviation Admin. (D.D.C.) -- granting motion for reconsideration based upon FAA's in camera declarations;  concluding that agency properly invoked Exemption 7(E) to protect an airplane radar plot that was compiled in connection with a classified investigation. 

Sept. 18, 2015

Stalcup v. Dep't of Def. (D. Mass.) -- ruling that Missile Defense Agency conducted a reasonable search for records concerning the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800, but that the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense had not adequately described its search methodology.  

Barouch v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives properly withheld grand jury subpoena and related records under Exemption 3 and Rule 6(e) of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and that no portion of those records was reasonably segregable. 

Sept. 17, 2015

Maryland v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs (D.D.C.) -- dismissing plaintiff's lawsuit after finding that: (1) plaintiff's dispute about fee category was moot because agency ultimately did not charge any fees; (2) agency properly invoked Exemption 6 to withhold the names of individuals that were contained in the email addresses of businesses whose applications were rejected for inclusion on the VetBiz database; (3) agency segregated and released non-exempt material; and (4) pro se plaintiff failed to administratively appeal certain issues or to raise others in his Amended Complaint or briefs.    

Brown v. U.S. Customs & Border Prot. (N.D. Cal.) -- denying government's motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim that agency violated FOIA by engaging in a pattern and practice of failing to respond to FOIA requests within the statutory timeline; further noting that the agency's response to dispositive case law "could not be less persuasive."

Sept. 16, 2015

Cause of Action v. Treasury Inspector Gen. for Tax Admin. (D.D.C.) -- granting government's summary judgment motion after court had rejected agency's Glomar response and ordered agency to search for records pertaining to any investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of return information to anyone in the Executive Office of the President.  The court found that agency's affidavits "could certainly [have been] more detailed" in describing search for records, but that there was "just enough" to rule in agency's favor.  Further, the court concluded that records located by agency were not responsive to the request, because plaintiff had clarified that it sought only records of investigations that had resulted in findings of unauthorized disclosure. 

Human Rights Watch. v. Dep't of Justice Fed. Bureau of Prisons (S.D.N.Y) -- granting in part and denying in part parties' motions for summary judgment concerning records about the detention conditions of individuals charged with or convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses.  The court largely upheld the agency's use of Exemptions 3, 6, and 7(C) to withhold certain information from five categories of requested records, but ordered agency to release discrete portions of records and to transmit certain information to court for in camera inspection.  

September 11, 2015

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- finding that:  (1) agency's search was adequate; (2) agency declarants were not required to have personal knowledge of search; (3) plaintiff was not entitled to a Vaughn Index from USCIS because another DHS component had processed the records and already provided plaintiff with an index; and (4) an in camera review of withheld records was unnecessary.

Cleveland v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- determining that State Department conducted an adequate search for records relating to a human rights report about Cameroon, and that it properly withheld certain information under Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege) and Exemption 6.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Nat'l Institutes of Health (D.D.C.) -- awarding plaintiff $22,724.03 in attorneys fee and costs, which represented 10 percent of amount that plaintiff sought.  The court determined that plaintiff was eligible for fees because the D.C. Circuit had rejected in part agency's Glomar response, thus changing the legal relationship between the parties.  Further, the court found that plaintiff was entitled to fees even though agency's actions were reasonable, because plaintiff's interests in seeking records were for public benefit and non-commercial.  Because plaintiff prevailed on only a narrow portion of its litigation, however, the court concluded that plaintiff should receive only 10 percent of requested fees.  

September 1, 2015

Plunkett v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- granting in part and denying in part the Executive Office for United States Attorneys' motion for summary judgment concerning convicted murderer's request for records about his prosecution. The court found that government's declarations did not fully address:  (1) whether two binders of material identified in an email were, in fact, reviewed for responsive documents, and if so, what was found; (2) which, if any, of the documents originally referred to the Bureau of Prisons for review were withheld and, if so, which FOIA exemption was applicable; and (3) the segregability of portions of one document that the government withheld in part.  The court, however, upheld the government's use of Exemptions 5 (attorney work-product), 7(C), and 7(D).  

Henry v. Dep't of Justice (N.D. Cal.) -- ruling that the FBI and various U.S. Attorney's Offices conducted adequate searches in response to plaintiffs' requests for records about themselves.  

Gilliam v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that Criminal Division conducted a reasonable search for requested wiretap records and properly withheld records under Exemption 3 (in conjunction with 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2521), Exemption 5 (attorney work-product), and Exemptions 6 and 7(C). 

Gamboa v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys (D.D.C.) -- finding that the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted an adequate search for requested joint task force records, and that the FBI properly withheld records under Exemptions 7(D) and 7(F).

August 31, 2015

Rubman v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. & U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (7th Cir.) -- concluding that agency "failed to conduct an adequate search . . . when it unilaterally narrowed [plaintiff's] request for 'all documents' to a single, newly generated statistical table."

Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.N.H.) -- ruling that IRS properly withheld correspondence from taxpayers, through their Congressmen, pursuant to Exemption 3 and Section 6103 of Internal Revenue Code.  The court further determined that a genuine factual dispute existed about the adequacy of the agency's search, and it stated that it would schedule a conference of the parties to discuss prospect of a rare FOIA trial. 

Agolli v. Office of Inspector Gen. (D.D.C) -- dismissing plaintiff's claims stemming from her 2006 FOIA request because the six-year statute of limitations ran before she filed suit; further finding that the Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy conducted an adequate search for records in response to plaintiff's 2014 request.

August 28, 2015

Cause of Action v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- granting in part and denying in part the parties' motions for summary judgment.  With respect to plaintiff's request for FOIA-related records pertaining to Section 6103 of Internal Revenue Code, the court held that the IRS conducted an adequate search and that its withholdings from these records were proper under Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege).  As for plaintiff's request for any requests by the Executive Office of the President for tax information, the court held that IRS properly withheld "tax check" records under Section 6103, but that: (a) any other requests would not be protected by Section 6103, and (b) the search described by the agency was inadequate. Regarding plaintiff's request for any federal agency requests for tax information, the court rejected the IRS's argument that any responsive records would be protected by Section 6103 and/or Exemptions 6 and 7(C).  

Note:  Mr. Blutstein co-represented Cause of Action in this case.

Envtl. Integrity Project v. Small Bus. Admin. (D.D.C.) -- determining after in camera  review that SBA properly withheld all records responsive to plaintiff's request pursuant to the deliberative process privilege

August 26, 2015

Ibeagwa v. Internal Revenue Serv. (W.D. Wis.) -- denying pro se plaintiff's motions for costs and attorney fees.  The court found that IRS's disclosure of one of two requested documents after the filing of lawsuit made plaintiff eligible for costs, but that plaintiff was not entitled to costs because disclosure of his tax records would not benefit the public. With respect to attorney fees, the court found that a pro se party is not eligible for attorney fees, that plaintiff's motion was untimely, and that disclosure of his tax records would not benefit the public.  

Love v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the Drug and Enforcement Administration properly refused to confirm or deny existence of records pertaining to a third party, and that it properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E).

Sack v. Cent. Intelligence Agency (D.D.C.) -- granting CIA's motion for reconsideration and vacating the court's earlier Order extending plaintiff's time to file a notice of appeal, because plaintiff's motion for an extension of time had been filed too late.   

August 25, 2015

Cause Action v. Fed. Trade Comm'n  (D.C. Cir.) -- reversing district court's decision that the last of plaintiff's three requests was moot for purposes of determining its fee status; further clarifying the definition of a "representative of the news media" and ordering district court to evaluate plaintiff's status in light of D.C. Circuit's opinion.  See related article here.

[Note: Mr. Blutstein co-represented Cause of Action in this appellate case] 

Willaman v. Erie Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms (3rd Cir.) -- affirming ATF's determination that plaintiff's request was not reasonably described inasmuch as it consisted of a question, which FOIA does not require an agency to answer.

August 24, 2015

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- granting IRS's motion for summary judgment after finding that records located by the agency consisted of "return information," which plaintiff had stipulated would not be responsive to its request; further finding that plaintiff conceded the adequacy of the agency's search by failing to oppose the agency's arguments pertaining to the subject. 

August 21, 2015

Harvey v. Lynch (D.D.C.) -- finding that plaintiff's FOIA and Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claims were moot because plaintiff agreed that agency had released all non-exempt records; noting that APA claim also was moot because "a FOIA requester may not seek relief under the APA for a violation of FOIA or the governing FOIA regulations."

Patel v. Bureau of Prisons (D.D.C.) -- holding that BOP failed to adequately explain:  (1) how it searched for records in response to one of plaintiff's requests; (2) why it was unable to segregate non-exempt information from information that it withheld under Exemptions 6 and 7(C); and (3) that records it withheld under Exemption 5 were privileged.    

Summaries of all cases since April 2015 are available here.

August 20, 2015

Evans v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior (N.D. Ind.) -- denying plaintiff's motion for discovery because plaintiff failed to explain why it was needed in order to respond to agency's motion for summary judgment.

August 19, 2015

Inst. for Policy Studies v. CIA (D.D.C) -- ordering the CIA to search for responsive records after finding that agency failed to establish that its operational files were exempt under 50 U.S.C. § 3141(f)(4)(A).  

August 18, 2015

Bartko v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the Office of Professional Responsibility properly withheld records of its investigation into misconduct by an Assistant United States Attorney pursuant to Exemptions 5, 6, and 7(C).  

August 17, 2015

Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- finding that plaintiff's request would have required the Department of Justice's Civil Division to search for more than the two free hours that plaintiff was permitted.    

Conway v. U.S. Agency for Int'l Dev. (D.D.C.) -- concluding that USAID and U.S. Army failed to establish that they conducted adequate searches for records concerning nurse killed in Vietnam by U.S. soldier in 1967.  

Wright v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- determining that the Criminal Division conducted a reasonable search for requested records and properly withheld them under Exemption 3 in conjunction with 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2521.

August 14, 2015

Hamdan v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (9th Cir.) -- affirming district court's ruling that FBI and State department conducted adequate searches and properly withheld records under Exemptions 1, 3, and 7(E); remanding case for district court to determine whether the Defense Intelligence Agency released all reasonably segregable information.

Consumers Council of Mo. v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. (E.D. Mo.) -- denying plaintiff's motion for attorney fees because plaintiff did not show that its lawsuit was the catalyst for agency's disclosure of records.

August 12, 2015

Detroit Free Press, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (6th Cir.) -- noting that it was bound by its 1996 decision, the Court of Appeals for Sixth Circuit affirmed that U.S. Marshals Service must release booking photographs of Detroit-area police officers indicted on federal charges. The court, however, urged the full panel of the Sixth Circuit to reconsider the issue of whether Exemption 7(C) applied to such records in light of contrary decisions in other circuits.

Leopold v. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that DOJ's search for certain records concerning drones was inadequate, because it interpreted the term "Obama administration" to include EOP employees only and failed to consider certain high-level cabinet officials; further ruling that agency properly invoked Exemption 3 to withhold portions of a "White Paper" and that all but a few Exemption 1 redactions to the same document also were proper.

August 6, 2015

Soto v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- concluding that Exemption 3, in conjunction with 8 U.S.C. § 1202(f), protected information concerning issuance or denial of visas to enter United States, but deferring ruling on whether agency properly withheld information pertaining to revocation of a student visa; further determining that agency conducted a reasonable search for requested records. 

August 5, 2015

Envtl. Integrity Project v. Small Bus. Admin. (D.D.C.) -- determining that Office of Management and Budget properly withheld requested records under the deliberative process privilege, which was not precluded by Executive Order 12866; further finding that SBA failed to justify its withholdings under same privilege and ordering documents to be provided to court for in camera review.   

August 4, 2015

Richardson v. United States (D.D.C.) -- granting Executive Office for Unites States Attorneys' motion for renewed summary judgement after determining that agency had conducted an adequate search and properly withheld two documents pursuant to Exemption 7(C).

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that DHS performed an adequate search and properly withheld certain information concerning a cyber-security pilot program pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3 (18 U.S.C. § 798 and 50 U.S.C. § 3605), 4, and 5 (attorney-client), but finding that agency had not supported its reliance upon Exemption 7(D).    

July 31, 2015

Dibacco v. U.S. Army (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming the adequacy of searched performed by Army and CIA, as well as the CIA's Exemption 1 and 3 withholdings; remanding for the district court to address in the first instance plaintiffs' challenges to redactions in records that the Army disclosed to plaintiffs while the appellate case was pending.  See article from Courthouse News Service here.

Justice v. Mine Safety & Health Admin. (S.D. W. Va.) -- holding that agency could not categorically withhold memos of investigative interviews under Exemptions 5 and 7(C), and ordering agency to re-review records for segregable, non-exempt information.    

Cole v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (D.D.C.) -- ruling that FBI properly refused to confirm or deny the existence of employment and disciplinary records for an FBI agent who allegedly committed misconduct in connection with plaintiff's prosecution for transporting and distributing child pornography. 

Leopold v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.D.C.) -- rejecting plaintiff's challenges to the searches performed by NSA and DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel but nonetheless ordering OLC to indicate whether it located no records at all or located some records that were deemed non-responsive.

Tracy v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C) -- determining that FBI conducted an adequate search and properly withheldinformation under Exemptions 6, 7(C), and 7(E); further finding that agency's failure to timely process the request, which was the only issue that plaintiff raised in his brief, did not preclude summary judgment in agency's favor.    

Gordon v. Courter (D.D.C.) -- finding that DOJ's Criminal Division conducted an adequate search; properly withheld records under Exemptions 5, 6, and 7(C); satisfied the segregability requirements of FOIA; and satisfied its obligations under the Privacy Act.  The court also concluded that plaintiff's amended Complaint would cause undue delay, fundamentally alter the nature of the suit, and likely be futile.

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C) -- concluding that DOJ properly invoked the attorney-work product privilege in response to request for records "detailing the number of hours DOJ Attorney Barbara Bosserman expended on the investigation of the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles."

July 30, 2015

Gosen v. U.S. Citizenship & Immgration Serv. (D.D.C.) -- determining that requested records pertaining to plaintiffs' asylum applications fell within the deliberative process privilege, but requiring agency to reassess records and release any segregable, non-exempt factual material. 

July 28, 2015

Smart-Tek Serv. Corp. v. Internal Revenue Serv. (S.D. Cal.) -- ruling that plaintiff maintained ability to sue IRS to obtain tax records even though it was a dissolved corporation.

Granat v. U.S. Dep't of Agric. (E.D. Cal.) -- finding that case was moot becase agency had produced all nonexempt records; rejecting plaintiff's argument that agency had engaged in pattern of delaying in responding to requests. 

July 24, 2015

Beam v. Internal Revenue Serv. (M.D. Pa.) -- dismissing case because plaintiff's administrative appeal to IRS was filed after the agency's 35-day deadline.

July 23, 2015

Skrzypek v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation (N.D. Ill.) -- granting FBI's unopposed motion for summary judgment and dismissing claim concerning the adequacy of agency's search.

July 20, 2015

B&P Co. v. Internal Revenue Serv. (S.D. Ohio) -- ruling that IRS properly withheld a draft Revenue Agent Report pursuant to Exemptions 3, 5, and 7(A), and that it performed an adequate search for requested restitution-related documents.    

Smith v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- concluding that Drug Enforcement Administration performed an adequate search in response to plaintiff's request for records about himself; further finding that DEA properly refused to confirm or deny the existence of certain records pertaining to a third party who testified against plaintiff at criminal trial.

July 17, 2015

Chiquita Brands Int'l Inc. v. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n & Nat'l Sec. Archive (D.C. Cir.) -- in "reverse-FOIA" case decided under Administrative Procedure Act, affirming district court's decision that disclosure of requested records would not deprive appellant of a fair trial within meaning of Exemption 7(B).    

Milner v. U.S. Dep't of Def. (W.D. Wash.) -- ruling that agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with 10 U.S.C. § 130e (critical infrastructure security information); that agency failed to justify its withholding a compilation of "logistical data" under the deliberative process privilege; that Exemption 6 properly protected information concerning high-ranking employees, but agency failed to identify rank of one employee; and that agency improperly refused to search for responsive records that it alleged were previously produced to plaintiff in another proceeding. 

July 14, 2015

Hall v. CIA (D.D.C) -- awarding plaintiffs more than $400,000 in interim attorney fees for decade-old litigation pertaining to missing prisoners of war or soldiers missing in action from the Vietnam War era. 

July 13, 2015

Am. Civil Liberties Union of N. Cal. v. Dep't of Justice (N.D. Cal.) --  following up on its decision of June 17, 2015, the court held that the Criminal Division could not withhold a "'description and guidance on how cell site simulators and related technologies are utilized and implemented by law enforcement,'" nor "a form designed for the purpose of identifying an unknown phone . . . being used/carried by a known individual."

July 10, 2015

Ryan v. FBI (D.D.C.) -- determining that FBI conducted an adequate search of its Central Records System, but that it did not explain whether search of Electronic Sureveillence Indices includes variations of plaintiff's name.    

Agility Pub. Warehousing Co. v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.D.C.) -- ruling that NSA properly refused to confirm or deny existence of records of plaintiff's telephone communications pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 3, and that agency performed reasonable search for other requested records.   

July 3, 2015

Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- finding that IRS conducted an adequate search in response to plaintiff's request for any records concerning the selection of individuals for audit based on information contained in section 501(c)(4) tax exempt applications.

July 1, 2015

Pacificorp v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency (D. Colo.) -- denying plaintiff's motion for attorney fees because it had a commercial interest in agency's rulemaking records and did not disseminate them to the public. 

Ctr. for the Study of Servs. v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. (D.D.C.) -- rejecting government's Exemption 4 claim that disclosure of certain information related to health plans offered pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would likely cause competitive harm or undermine program effectiveness; denying each parties' motion for summary judgment, however, and warning each party for a clearer presentation of the facts underlying the case.

Kalu v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that request to IRS was deficient because requester's attorney failed to sign form; Transportation Security Admin. properly used Glomar response for watch-list records, but failed to conduct adequate search for other records; and FBI's use of Gomar response for watch-list records likely was proper, but agency's motion for summary judgment inexplicably did not address issue. 

June 30, 2015

Debrew v. Atwood (D.C. Cir.) -- remanding in part and affirming in part Bureau of Prison's action on FOIA requests; finding that BOP's search was adequate with respect to requested telephone records, that requester failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to his request for records about a DNA statute, and that agency neglected to adequately describe its search for records about an internal BOP policy.

June 29, 2015

Taylor v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (11th Cir.) -- holding that agency properly issued Glomar response in conjunction with Exemption 1 in response to pro se requester's request for records about himself

Speaking Truth To Power v. U.S. Nat'l Nuclear Sec. Admin. (E.D. Pa.) -- granting NNSA's motion for summary judgment after finding that agency had consucted an adequate search; stating that although agency's declaration "did not expressly state that 'all files likely to contain responsive materials ... were searched,' such magic words are not required when, as here, a reasonably detailed affidavit describes a thorough search of those places where responsive documentation is likely to be found." 

Rodriguez v. Dep't of Justice (S.D. Ohio) -- finding that Drug Enforcement Admin. properly invoked Exemption 7(D) to protect information provided by a confidential source, that plaintiff failed to show that such information had been disclosed during his trial, and that DEA conducted a reasonable search for other requested records.

Long v. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that nonprofit organization qualified as both an educational institution and a representative of the news media for fee purposes.  See related article from Courthouse News Service here.  

June 25, 2015

Bethea v. USDA (D.S.C.) -- adopting Magistrate's report and recommendation to require agency to conduct a further search.

June 24, 2015

Gahagan v. DOJ (E.D. La.) -- ruling that Immigration & Customs Enforcement failed to adequately explain why it searched only electronic files; that Executive Office for Immigration Review was required to search files that would "likely" contain responsive records, not where they would "most likely" be found; and that no particular format was required for government's Vaughn Index -- a declaration could suffice.       

June 23, 2015

Am. Immigration Lawyers Ass'n v. Exec. Office for Immigration Review (D.D.C) -- holding that agency was not required to process non-responsive information so long as it "'is clearly and without any doubt unrelated to the subject of the request'  and its redaction will not interfere with [plaintiff's] ability to understand or contextualize the responsive material; further holding that agency was permitted to raise exemption claims for material that it had previously withheld as non-responsive.

June 22, 2015

Ellis v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- determining that government properly withheld requested drug surveillance records under Exemption 5 (attorney-client privilege) and that it conducted an adequate search.

June 18, 2015

Prison Legal News v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. (W.D. Wash.) -- determining that Exemption 4 did not protect company's 2009 performance incentive rate; declaring that government's delay in responding to FOIA request was "egregious," and stating that plaintiff was eligible and entitled to reasonable attorney fees.   

June 17, 2015

ACLU v. DOJ (N.D. Cal.) -- deciding that EOUSA and Criminal Division properly withheld vast majority of legal templates concerning government's use of mobile tracking technology under Exemption 5 (attorney work product), but rejecting government's reliance on Exemption 7(E).

June 16, 2015

Murphy v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that grand jury information, including dates and times when grand jury convened, was properly withheld pursuant to Exemption 3.

Gahagan v. U.S. Customs & Border Prot. (E.D. La.) -- finding that government's declarations were not per se deficient for failing to identify the individual who conducted the search; (2) CBP and ICE did not establish that adequate searches were conducted, but Dep't of State made adequate showing; (3) Dep't of State properly withheld visa information pursuant to Exemption 3 (8 U.S.C. § 1202(f)); and (4) records withheld by CPB and ICE required in camera inspection.

Kowack v. U.S. Forest Serv. (D. Mont.) -- ruling after in camera inspection of withheld records that agency did not properly apply Exemption 6.  

June 11, 2015

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Serv. (E.D. La.) -- ruling that USCIS conducted an adequate search; properly invoked Exemption 6 to withhold dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and financial information; and properly referred records to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notwithstanding ICE's four-month delayed response. 

June 10, 2015

Speaking Truth to Power v. Nat'l Nuclear Sec. Admin. (E.D. Pa.) -- denying as "futile" plaintiff's motion to add two agencies as defendants because:  (1) plaintiff had failed to administratively appeal one agency's initial response; and (2) second putative defendant would not have responsive records not already maintained by named defendant. 

June 9, 2015

Am. Bird Conservancy v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv. (E.D. Va.) -- awarding plaintiff $106,000 in attorney's fees

Speaking Truth to Power v. DOD (E.D. Pa.) -- denying plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees

Ryan v. FBI (D.D.C) -- denying plaintiff's motion seeking recusal of presiding judge

June 8, 2015

Trentadue v. FBI (D. Utah) -- following an in camera review, the court ruled that the government properly withheldrecords at issue pursuant to Exemption 1, 3, and 7(E).   

June 5, 2015

 Prison Legal News v. Samuels (D.C. Cir.) -- reversing district court's decision in favor of Federal Bureau of Prisons, which had categorically invoked Exemptions 6 and 7(C) to withhold records about money paid in response to lawsuits against it.  The D.C. Circuit found that the privacy interest involved in a given type of claim, as well as the public interest in disclosure, varied in ways that neither the agency nor the district court had considered. 

June 4, 2015

Bothwell v Brennan (N.D. Cal.) -- concluding that CIA's search was adequate, except for its search for documents generated in July 1976 regarding Johnny Roselli; the fact that Plaintiff believed that Mr. Roselli was involved in JFK's assassination was not a sufficient reason for agency to limit its search to JFK database.   

May 27, 2015

Turner v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury (E.D. Cal.) -- denying plaintiff's moton for appointment of counsel because court found that plaintiff was able to articulate his claims and no "exceptional circumstances" existed.

Wadelton v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- finding search inadequate because agency did not search for certain paper records, but permitting employees who created records to conduct search for them.  The court further found that agency properly invoked attorney work-product and deliberative process privileges to withhold records, but that agency did not establish that all reasonably segregable, non-exempt material had been releases.  Related article fromCourthouse News Service here.

Petrucelli v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that the FBI properly withheld information under Exemptions 7(D) and 7(E), but finding that EOUSA did not prove that Exemption 7(C) applied to information previously withheld under Exemptions 7(D) and 7(F).  Related article from Courthouse News Service here.  

May 22, 2015

Yagman v. BOP (9th Cir.) -- affirming district court's opinion that a request for the names, prison numbers, and mailing addresses of all individuals in BOP's custody was properly denied pursuant to Exemption 6, 7(C), and 7(F).   

May 20, 2105

 Am. Civil Liberties Union v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- ruling that a report drafted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concerning CIA's former detention and interrogation program is a congressional record not subject to FOIA; further ruling that documents pertaining to an internal CIA review were properly withheld pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3, and 5, as discussed in Leopold v. CIA (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2015), which concerned same material.  

May 19, 2015

Neary v. FDIC (D.D.C.) -- dismissing plaintiff's case seeking the names, addressesand interview dates of certain rejected job applicants.  The court found that the FDIC properly withheld responsive records pursuant to Exemption 6, because plaintiff's unsubstantiated allegations of age discrimination did not outweigh the privacy interests of the rejected applicants.  Although certain requested information was publicly accessible for a brief time period, the court held that the information remained practically obscure and the FDIC had not waived its right to protect it.

May 15, 2015

Pinson v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- (1) dismissing case against the DEA as moot because plaintiff abandoned his claim; (2) dismissing case against the Criminal Division as moot because the agency released in full the document at issue; and (3) with respect to Bureau of Prisons and DOJ, denying plaintiff's motions for sanctions, a protective order, an order to show cause, and a preliminary injunction; grantingplaintiff's unopposed motion for appointment of counsel because plaintiff, an inmate at maximum-security prison, was prohibited from receiving certain FOIA-released documents in mail due to BOP security policies. 

May 14, 2015

Leopold v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- Ruling that a Senate committee report concerning the CIA’s former detention and interrogation program was properly redacted pursuant to Exemption 1 and Exemption 3 (in conjunction with 50 U.S.C. §§ 3024(i)(1) and 3507).  The redactions at issue concerned:  "(1) the costs of CIA detention facilities abroad; (2) amounts paid to unknown countries; (3) the size of monetary cuts to CIA intelligence programs; (4) sums given to previously detained individuals; and (5) compensation for medical services."  With respect to Exemption 1, the court found that the CIA"complied with the procedural and substantive requirements for classifying the information under Executive Order 13,526."   In analyzing Exemption 3, the court pointed out that it owed"considerable deference" to the CIA's judgment as to whether disclosure of requested information would reveal intelligence sources and methods. 

May 13, 2015

Manna v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- Dismissing case as moot because the FBI released requested videotape in full after plaintiff filed suit.  The court rejected plaintiff's argument that the FBI should have construed request to include records that are the subject of plaintiff's separate FOIA requests, which plaintiff had cited as background information.

May 12, 2015

Elkins v. FAA (D.D.C.) -- Dismissing lawsuit in part because plaintiff filed it before the FAA was obligated to respond to one of his FOIA requests.  With respect to plaintiff's second FOIA request, the court found that the FAA's search was"commendable" but ultimately inadequate, because the agency's declaration failed to state "that all files likely to contain responsive records were searched or that no other offices would likely contain responsive documents."  Further, the court upheld the FAA's use of Exemption 7(E) to withhold an FAA Order that the court had previously reviewed in camera in a related lawsuit (see April 16, 2015 entry below).  The court, however, ordered the FAA to release an aircraft radar plot because the FAA failed to demonstrate how such information was compiled for law-enforcement purposes.  Lastly, the court rejected plaintiff's motion to depose certain FAA officials, because plaintiff offered "no compelling reason" for his request.

Alvin v. DOJ (M.D. Al.) -- Adopting Magistrate's recommendation to dismiss case on grounds that:  (1) plaintiff's administrative FOIA appeal was untimely filed, notwithstanding the fact that it was mailed before deadline and agency error delayed plaintiff's receipt of agency's initial determination; and (2) agency reasonably demonstrated that it did not received plaintiff's second FOIA request and plaintiff offered no proof that he actually submitted it.    

May 8, 2015

Gahagan v. USCIS (5th Cir.) (unpublished opinion) -- Vacating district court's judgment in favor of agency and remanding for further proceedings, because the district court had not considered the actions of another DHS component on records referred to it by USCIS in response to plaintiff's FOIA request.

May 7, 2015

Hoeller v. Soc. Sec. Admin. (E.D. Wi.) -- Finding that SSA conducted a reasonable search in response to plaintiff's request concerning his disability benefits; the fact that a particular document could not be located did not undermine the adequacy of the search.  The court further found that plaintiff had received all records that SSA located and that he was not entitled to other requested relief under FOIA, such as a stipulation or additional explanations from SSA about its search or plaintiff's disability benefits. 

May 6, 2015

Bartko v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- Ruling that redactions made by the Executive Office of United States Attorneys under Exemption 5 were proper because pro se prisoner-plaintiff did not contest them.  The court further ruled that the agency properly denied plaintiff's request for a waiver of duplication fees, because the "incidental public-interest benefits to be gained . . . are minimal in comparison to the unavoidably obvious personal purpose for which the records are sought" -- namely, to challenge plaintiff's criminal conviction.  Lastly, the court rejected plaintiff's allegation that the agency manifested bad faith by, among other things, delaying its processing of records by several months, denying plaintiff's requests to waive fees or to pay fees in installments, and producing public source documents despite his request to exclude them.

Pelligrino v. TSA (E.D. Pa.) -- Upholding in part and rejecting in part the agency's witholdings under Exemption 5 and Exemption 6 after conducting an in camera review, and ordering agency to submit a more-detailed search affidavit. Search:  The court found that TSA's affidavit identified the offices that had been tasked to conduct searches, but contained "no actual information on how these searches were conducted."  There was "no information about what the tasking forms said, what records were searched, what search terms were used, or what procedures were followed."  Exemption 5, Attorney Work-Product Privilege:  The court rejected TSA's argument that the mental processes used by an attorney to collect documents in a case file triggered the privilege.  The vast majority of the documents were found to qualify, however, because they were "created in anticipation of litigation."  Attorney-Client Privilege:The court ruled that communications from an attorney to clients providing confidential legal advice qualified for the attorney-client privilege.  Further, the court rejected plaintiff's contention TSA's attorneys commited crimes or misconduct so as to preclude the agency's withholding of documents based on attorney work-product or attorney-client privileges.  Deliberate Process Privilege:  The court found that an  "EIR Offical Recommended Action form" did not qualify under the privilege because it merely showed "the officials' concurrence with a recommended action" and did not reflect or reveal "anything about the agency officials' thought processes or discussions that led to their decision." Exemption 6:  The court found that TSA properly invoked Exemption 6  to withhold the names and identifying information of TSA employees, but improperlywithheld the time-stamp from a cover email and the title of an email attachment that had been released. 

May 5, 2015

Columbia Riverkeeper v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs -- Awarding plaintiff $86,878 in attorney fees and $2,411 in litigation costs after reducing billing for duplicative work, excessive time, and time spent on an unsuccessful claim.

May 1, 2015

Dillon v DOJ (D.D.C.) -- Finding that the FBI "conducted reasonable and adequate searches responsive to the plaintiff’s FOIA requests" concerning terrorists Zacarias Moussaoui and Abderraouf Jdey; further finding that the FBI properly withheld responsive records pursuant to Exemptions 1, 7(A), 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E). 

April 29, 2015

Int'l Counsel v. Dep't of Def. et al. (D.D.C.) -- Holding that the FBI had not adequately explained why it searched only its Central Records System in response to plaintiff's requests to multiple agencies concerning certain Guantanamo detainees.  The court denied both parties' motions for summary judgment, however, because it was "not yet convinced that the FBI has not completed a satisfactory search." 

April 28, 2015

W. Energy Alliance v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv. (10th Cir.) -- Ruling that the district court did not abuse its discretion indenying WEA's motion for attorneys fees and costs.  Although the district court found that the agency's reasons for delaying disclosure had no basis in law ("an internal processing error and an inopportune employee vacation"), that factor was outweighed by the district court's findings that the records benefitted WEA's dues-paying members, not the public -- findings that the Tenth Circuit held were not clearly erroneous.  

April 24, 2015

Freedom Watch v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.C. Cir.) -- Affirming Glomar responses of NSA, CIA, and Dep't of Defense in connection with requests for records about New York Times article discussing U.S. cyber-attack on Iran; remanding case to the district court to oversee the State Department's processing of former Secretary Clinton's privately-maintained emails for records responsive to Freedom Watch's request. 

The court held that Freedom Watch was precluded from challenging the Exemption 1 Glomar responses of NSA and CIA because it had not challenged them at the administrative stage. The court found DoD's Glomar response to be proper on the merits; it accorded "substantial weight" to DoD's judgment that acknowledging existence or non-existence of records would "'cause damage to national security by providing insight into DoD's military and intelligence capabilities and interests.'"  With respect to the State Department, the court held that Freedom Watch forfeited objections to the agency's search and the withholding of a press briefing memo by failing to assert those objections at district court level.  The court further held that district court had not abused its broad discretion in denying Freedom Watch's request for discovery, which was not supported by evidence of agency bad faith.  The court accepted the government's suggestion to remand the case to permit State Department to process former Secretary Clinton's emails, as well as to supplement the record concerning its search for documents maintained by the Executive Secretariat.  The court reminded the agency that regardless of its plans to release the emails to the public, it had an obligation under FOIA to produce responsive records "'in the shortest amount time.'"

April 23, 2015

Consumers Council of Mo v. HHS (E.D. Mo.) -- Dismissing Complaint as moot where plaintiff conceded that it received all requested information in full after lawsuit was filed; rejecting plaintiff's contention that similar requests in the future would likely be subjected to delayed responses and again evade judicial review. 

April 21, 2015

Madel v. DEA (8th Cir.) -- The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reverses and remands district court's decision that Exemption 4 protected in full five documents pertaining to the sale of oxycodone in Georgia by private companies.  The court holds that the Drug Enforcement Administration demonstrated that "substantial competitive harm is likely" from disclosure.  The agency failed to show, however, that certain information from the documents could not be segregated and released.  

Arrowgarp v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- Granting the government's unopposed motion for summary judgment where the FBI, EOUSA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs sufficiently explained their searches and withholdings in response to pro se prisoner's request for agencies' investigation files concerning him.  

April 16, 2015

Elkins v. FAA (D.D.C) -- Ruling that agency failed to describe its search for certain items of request about an aircraft reportedly conducting surveillance of plaintiff, but rejecting plaintiff’s contention that FAA was required to locate and translate a code transmitted by aircraft in order to determine the plane’s ‘N’ number.  With respect to FAA’s withholdings under Exemption 7(E), the court held that FAA failed to show in its “laconic briefing” that voice recordings and flight tracking records, which are collected as a matter of course for all aircraft, were originally or subsequently compiled for a law enforcement purpose; however, a sealed declaration filed by FAA demonstrated that the identity of the law enforcement agency operating the aircraft was properly withheld.   

April 15, 2105

Coss v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- Rejecting FBI’s Glomar response where requester sought a notebook that had been entered into evidence in third party’s criminal trial and cited in publicly available court opinion.  “Refusing to acknowledge whether or not the notebooks exist borders on foolishness,” observed the court, which ordered the agency to conduct a search.  Related coverage from Courthouse News here

Kuzman v. CIA (W.D.N.Y.) --  Holding that CIA performed an adequate search for records concerning plantiff's participation in a protest against CIA; the agency was not obligated to identify the employees who searched for records or when those searches were conducted.  The court also held that the CIA properly invoked a Glomar response pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 3 in response to the portion of plaintiff's request for all records pertaining to himself generally.    

April 14, 2015

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla v. DOJ (S.D. Fla.) -- Affirming Glomar response under Exemptions 6 and 7(C) in connection with request for records of any investigations into misconduct by Guy Lewis, former Director of Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.  Although Mr. Lewis testified in an unrelated deposition that he had not left DOJ involuntarily or because of any investigation, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that his testimony constituted a public acknowledgment that the requested records did not exist (which would have precluded agency’s Glomar response).  Noting that plaintiff had failed to present any evidence of Mr. Lewis’s alleged misconduct, the court observed that “[t]o allow [plaintiff] to overridesignificant privacy interest for the sake of finding out whether an imagined investigation actually took place is to read Exemption 7(C) as tolerating fishing expeditions, which would leave FOIA’s privacy concerns meaning little to nothing.”

Stevens v. U.S. Dep’t of State (N.D. Ill.) – Remanding for a further search after finding that agency inexplicably failed in one instance to use subject’s surname as search term.

April 13, 2015

Henson v. HHS (S.D. Ill.) -- Dismissing FOIA claims against individual agency employees named as defendants; under FOIA, only government agencies are proper defendants.

Kuplen v. DOJ (W.D.N.C.) -- Denying plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration under Rule 59(e) of Federal Rules of Civil procedure because plaintiff failed to:  (1) present new evidence; (2) show that a clear error had been made; (3) show that denying the motion would result in manifest injustice; or (4) cite to intervening change in applicable law.     

April 10, 2015

Dean v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- Rejecting DEA’s Glomar response because federal prosecutor had acknowledged the existence of the requested document at requester-prisoner’s trial.    

April 8, 2015   

Elec.  Privacy Info. Ctr. v. NSA (D.D.C.) -- Awarding plaintiff $31,180 in attorneys' fees and costs for prevailing in FOIA case involving National Presidential Security Directive 54; disallowing fees for work performed during time period covered by the parties' settlement agreement, as well as for time period in which plaintiff appeared to negotiate in bad faith. 

April 3, 2015

Reaves v. Jewell (D. Md.) -- Dismissing amended Complaint because it failed to explain which specific redactions plaintiff believed were improper or include any supporting facts; declining to award litigation costs despite agency’s delayed response because the FOIA request did not clearly benefit the public.