FOIA Advisor


FOIA News: SCOTUS rejects appeal seeking Senate's CIA report

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Justices Decline to Hear Appeal in CIA Torture Report

By Dan McCue, Courthouse News Service,  Apr. 24, 2017

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal seeking the release of a 2014 Senate report on the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques.

In rejecting the appeal, the Justices let stand a May 2016 ruling by the D.C. Circuit which held the Senate Intelligence Committee was not subject to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more here.

Court opinions issued Apr. 20, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

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.  

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinion issued Apr. 19, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

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.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

FOIA News: DOJ continues to protect mug shots

Allan BlutsteinComment

Feds: Mug shots too revealing to be made public

By Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press, Apr. 22, 2017

The U.S. Department of Justice under President Donald Trump is staking the same ground as the previous administration in opposing the Detroit Free Press' legal fight over the public release of criminal mug shots in federal cases.

In a bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court from taking up a case the Free Press originally filed in 2013, the Department of Justice argued in a brief filed April 12 that those accused of crimes have a privacy interest in keeping mug shots out of the public eye — especially in today's Internet age in which mugshots can live online in perpetuity.

Read more here.

FOIA News: More on the "National FOIA Portal"

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Government is one step closer to a one-stop shop for FOIA requesters

By Samantha Ehlinger, fedscoop, Apr. 21, 2017

Digital services group 18F is is going to help develop the government’s centralized portal for Freedom of Information Act requests, according to the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy, who will collaborate with them on the project.

The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 signed into law last year mandated the creation of a centralized portal — one place for people to go to submit a request for records from any agency. The act also requires the portal be interoperable with request processing software agencies are using.

Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy at DOJ, said Thursday that the office had secured $1.3 million in funding for the project, dubbed the National FOIA Portal, adding “we’re happy obviously with that amount.”

Read more here.

FOIA News: "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" Provides FOIA Tutorial

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

Full Frontal Gives Us a Hot New FOIA Tutorial for Spring

Almee Lutkin, Jezebel, Apr. 20, 2017

Here’s some good, clean fun for people considering getting into make up tutorials on YouTube or filing FOIA reports with the government. It’s a very gentle introduction to both.

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee shared this video of writer Ashley Nicole Black cheerfully leading viewers through the process of filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act, allowing them to access records on their government for big scoops or their own intel. “It’s a totally basic look that anyone can do,” says Black.

Read more here.