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FOIA News: NCPC finalizes revisions to FOIA regulation

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

The National Capital Planning Commission ("NCPC") published a final rule implementing revisions to the agency's FOIA regulations in today's issue of the Federal Register.  The rule, which is effective on October 20, 2017, follows the publication of proposed revisions on August 1, 2017.  NCPC received no public comment and made no changes to the proposed rule.  These changes are being implemented to comply with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.

FOIA News: State agencies sue FOI requesters

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters

Ryan J. Foley, Assoc. Press, Sept. 17, 2017

OWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Oregon parent wanted details about school employees getting paid to stay home. A retired educator sought data about student performance in Louisiana. And college journalists in Kentucky requested documents about the investigations of employees accused of sexual misconduct.

Instead, they got something else: sued by the agencies they had asked for public records.

Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests — taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense.

Read more here.

FOIA News: EPA inundated with requests

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

FOIA explosion at EPA, over 60 per day

By Paul Bedard, Wash. Examiner, Sept. 19, 2017

Reporters and special interests groups critical of President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency have filed Freedom of Information Act requests at a record-breaking pace, a rate of over 60 a day.

Through last week, 10,970 have been filed, many so broadly worded that it will take years to answer. What's more, there are still several weeks left in the fiscal year for more to come in. The most ever filed for a full year has been 11,820 in fiscal year 2007.

Critics have assailed some actions by Trump's EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt and many FOIA's seek emails on their decisions.

But some are poorly focused and broad. Several seek all emails that include "climate change" in them, a list in the millions and will be costly in money and hours to retrieve.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Court opinions issued Sept. 15, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

McNeely v. U.S. Dep't of Energy (N.D. Cal.) -- finding that: (1) government conducted adequate search for records pertaining to plaintiff's childhood medical records and a study at Hanford nuclear site; (2) government properly withheld names of third parties pursuant to Exemption 6.

Gelb v. DHS (S.D.N.Y.) -- concluding that government performed adequate search for records concerning unclaimed funds and that it properly withheld the names of account holders pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C).

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here

Court opinions issued Sept. 13-14, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Sept. 14, 2017

Sanchez-Alanis v. BOP (D.D.C.) -- finding that agency properly withheld certain records from plaintiff's inmate files pursuant to Exemptions 5, 6, 7(C), 7(E), and 7(F), and that agency's delayed releases of records did not preclude summary judgment. 

Sept. 13, 2017

Tuffly v. DHS (9th Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that Exemption 7(C) protected disclosure of names of 149 non-citizens who were released in 2013 from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention pending final removal determinations.

Wadhwa v. Sec'y U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs (3rd Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that: (1) agency properly withheld records pertaining to complaints of employment discrimination pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 6, and (2) agency properly refused to confirm or deny existence of disciplinary records of named agency employees.

Carter v. USDA (W.D. Ark.) -- determining that Food and Nutrition Service performed reasonable search for records concerning institutions disqualified from food program between 1995 and 2001.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here

 

Court opinions issued Sept. 11-12, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Sept. 12, 2017

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- holding that pro se attorney was ineligible for attorney's fees -- overruling magistrate judge's report and recommendation -- in light of U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kay v. Ehrler, 499 U.S. 432, 438 (1991), but granting award for plaintiff's costs.   

Sept. 11, 2017

Climate Investigations Ctr. v. U.S. Dep't of Energy (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) agency failed to show that it adequately searched for records pertaining to "a power plant in Mississippi that uses 'clean coal' technology; (2) agency failed to show that its withholdings under deliberative process privilege were "predecisional" or that it properly relied upon attorney-client privilege; and (3) dispute about agency's Exemption 6 withholdings was moot because plaintiff possessed requested information via SEC filings.  

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here