FOIA Advisor

Court Opinions (2019)

Court opinions issued Apr. 30, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. DOJ (D.C. Cir.) -- in a 2-1 opinion, affirming district court’s decision to dismiss plaintiff’s claim seeking all formal written opinion of Office of Legal Counsel, as well as indices of those opinions, under so-called “reading-room” provision. The dissent argued that the majority erroneously placed burden on plaintiff to request records that were not exempt, and that plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to survive motion to dismiss.

Brennan Ctr. for Justice at N.Y. Univ. Sch. of Law v. DOJ (S.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that: (1) DHS and OMB performed inadequate search for records pertaining to President Trump’s voter integrity commission; and (2) government was required to determine whether relevant custodians maintained responsive records on their personal email accounts, because plaintiff produced evidence that two agency employees maintained such records.

Willis v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (D.D.C.) -- finding that NSA properly refused to confirm or deny existence of intelligence records pertaining to plaintiff under Exemptions 1 and 3, and that it performed adequate search for non-intelligence records.

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

Court opinion issued Apr. 28, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Hardway v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) CIA performed adequate search for only one of four categories of records concerning plaintiffs, who participated in congressional investigations of assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King; and (2) CIA properly invoked Exemption 3 , in conjunction with 50 15 U.S.C. § 3507, to redact CIA employees’ names and signatures that appeared on the two non-disclosure agreements.

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

Court opinion issued Apr. 24, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Rojas v. FAA (9th Cir.) -- reversing district court’s opinion and finding that: (1) FAA failed to demonstrate the adequacy of its search for records concerning employment test; and (2) “consultant corollary” principle relied upon by FAA was “contrary to Exemption 5’s text and FOIA’s policy of broad disclosure, and its legal foundation . . . is tenuous at best.”

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

Court opinions issued Apr. 18-19, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Apr. 19, 2019

Natural Res. Def. Council v. EPA (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) plaintiff had Article III standing to challenge EPA’s policy or practice of threatening to deem FOIA requests as “voluntarily withdrawn” when: (a) the agency concludes on an initial review that the request does not “reasonably describe” the records sought and so notifies the requester, and (b) the requester fails to contact the EPA within ten days regarding the asserted deficiency in the request; and (2) neither party had sufficiently explained whether plaintiff had statutory standing or could obtain injunctive or similar relief.

Apr. 18, 2019

Kriemelmeyer v. U.S. Dept. of State (W.D. Wis.) -- concluding that: (1) DOJ’s National Security Division performed adequate search for Foreign Agent Registration records and was under no obligation to inform plaintiff that he could have searched pubic database for same records; (2) Department of State properly denied plaintiff’s request for records pertaining to his passport application because plaintiff failed to certify his identity in accordance with agency regulations.

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

Court opinion issued Apr. 17, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Elec. Frontier Found. v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- ruling that: (1) FBI improperly relied on Exemption 7(E) in refusing to confirm or deny existence of records concerning agency’s use, training, and recruitment of informants at computer repair facilities; (2) FBI properly invoked Exemption 7(E) to withhold certain records concerning use of informants at Best Buy; (3) FBI failed to provide sufficient information to allow court to determine whether Exemption 7(C) protected name of criminal convicted on evidence obtained from Best Buy in Kentucky; (4) FBI did not sufficiently explain grounds for invoking Exemptions 6, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E) to categorically withhold informant files for eight confidential informants acknowledged in criminal case.

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