FOIA Advisor

Court opinions issued July 18, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Charnock v. Barr (D.D.C.) -- determining that DOJ’s Civil Rights Division performed adequate search for records concerning plaintiff’s disability complaint against the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Silbaugh v. Acosta (W.D. Wash.) -- ruling that plaintiff’s discovery request concerning Department of Labor’s search was premature because agency had yet not filed affidavits or declarations.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

Court opinions issued July 15, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Animal Welfare Inst. v. USDA (W.D.N.Y. ) -- concluding that: (1) plaintiff’s “reading room” claim regarding non-compliance records was sufficient to survive motion to dismiss; and (2) agency failed to show that transferring venue to District of Columbia was warranted.

Ctr. for Pub. Integrity v. Dep’t of Energy (D.D.C.) -- ordering parties to re-brief applicability of Exemption 4 to contractors’ nuclear testing site records in light of Supreme Court’s decision in Argus Leader, and to provide additional briefing on applicability of consultant corollary theory to withhold records pursuant to Exemption 5.

Ctr. for Popular Democracy v. Bd. of Governors of Fed. Reserve Sys. (E.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that agency failed to conduct adequate search for records concerning Board and Reserve Bank leadership, and upholding agency’s uncontested withholdings pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 6.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

FOIA News: DeVos under investigation for use of personal email

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

DeVos' use of personal email as secretary probed by House Democrats

By Kimberly Hefling, Politico, July 15, 2019

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said Monday that he is expanding an investigation into the use of personal email by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Cummings told DeVos in a letter that his move came after "disturbing new revelations" released by the Education Department's inspector general in May about how DeVos had used personal email while on the job.

Read more here.

Court opinions issued July 12, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Rocky Mounty Wild v. U.S. Forest Serv. (D. Colo.) -- ordering plaintiff to return, delete, or permanently destroy certain privileged records that agency inadvertently produced in response to FOIA request.

Prot. Our Defenders v. DOD (D. Conn.) -- finding that: (1) Air Force did not satisfactorily explain its searches for records concerning the agency’s “diversity team”; (2) Air Force properly withheld certain records pursuant to attorney-client and deliberative process privileges, except with respect to recommendations contained in “Talking Paper" on diversity efforts; (3) four DOD components and the Coast Guard improperly relied on Exemption 6 to withhold non-purely personal information from Staff Judge Advocate biographies; and (4) names of military personnel redacted from other requested records did not fall within Exemption 6 because the records did not constitute "personnel and medical files and similar files."

Bartko v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that plaintiff was entitled to public interest fee waiver for request concerning his criminal case, because disclosure would “educate the public about a larger pattern of prosecutorial misconduct in the Eastern District of North Carolina.”

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

Court opinion issued July 10, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Civil Beat Law Ctr. for the Pub. Interest v. CDC (9th Cir.) -- ruling that: (1) dispute over agency’s withholding of letter detailing regulatory violations at University of Hawaii’s bio-laboratory was moot because agency released letter while appeal was pending; (2) reversing and remanding district court’s judgment that agency properly withheld all references to University of Hawaii’s bio-laboratory pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002; and (3) affirming district court’s decision that agency properly withheld names and contact information of CDC employees who performed inspection of bio-laboratory.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

Court opinions issued July 9, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

N.Y. Times v. U.S. Dep't of State (S.D.N.Y.) -- concluding that with two minor exceptions, agency properly relied on deliberative process and attorney-client privileges to withhold two chain emails concerning Transportation Secretary Chao’s planned trip to China in 2017.

Bartko v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that “government-misconduct” exception did not apply to records withheld by EOUSA pursuant to deliberative process privilege and that agency otherwise met its burden of producing responsive records.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.