FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Judges reject move to consolidate Clinton FOIA cases

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Josh Gerstein, POLITICO, Oct. 8, 2015

Federal district court judges in Washington have unanimously rejected a bid by the Obama Administration to try to coordinate aspects of nearly 40 Freedom of Information Act lawsuits relating to the emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides.

The Justice Department, acting on behalf of the State Department and at the urging of at least two judges on the court, moved last month to put scheduling and record preservation issues in the cases in front of a single federal judge. At the moment, the cases are pending before 17 different judges, the government said in a recent filing.

In an order issued Thursday (and posted here), Chief Judge Richard Roberts that the judges on the court met privately to discuss the issue on Tuesday and decided against any formal process to align the cases.

“Many of the underlying cases have been pending for several years and a significant number of scheduling orders have already been entered,” Roberts said, referring to FOIA suits filed well before the recent disclosures about Clinton’s private email account and State’s decision to seek records from personal email accounts of her top aides. “The judges who have been randomly assigned to these cases have been and continue to be committed to informal coordination so as to avoid unnecessary inefficiencies and confusion, and the parties are also urged to meet and confer to assist in coordination.”

Most of the plaintiffs in the cases, who include conservative groups and media organizations, opposed the effort to coordinate the cases.

There was no immediate comment from the Justice Department or the State Department on the decision.

Read more here.