FOIA Advisor

Court opinions issued Mar. 31, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Justice v. Mine Safety & Health Admin. (S.D. W. Va.) -- denying plaintiff's bid for attorney's fees and costs because he failed to show that disclosure resulted in public benefit or that agency withholdings were unreasonable.  

Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury (D.D.C.) -- ruling that Treasury performed a reasonable search for email between three agencies and Hillary Clinton's personal email address, rejecting plaintiff's argument that Treasury should have searched all employee email accounts instead of limiting to senior employees.

Smith v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- finding that: (1) CIA conducted adequate search for records concerning uranium shipments to Israel, and that agency justifiably declined to search its operational files; (2) agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3, 6, 7(C), and 7(E); and (3) circumstances did not allow plaintiff to amend Complaint in order to add DOJ as defendant. 

Shapiro v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- in case involving request to FBI for records concerning Nelson Mandela, determining that: (1) FBI properly relied on Exemptions 1, 3, 7(A), and 7(D) to withhold requested records, but did not justify all withholdings made pursuant to Exemptions 5, 7(C), and 7(E); and (2) FBI did not provide sufficient information to allow court to decide whether agency properly withheld certain records as nonresponsive to request.  Notably, the court stated that the FBI's general practice was consistent with D.C. Circuit precedence.  It further observed that "[i]f an agency was forced to turn over a full manual or entire report every time a single page contained a responsive term, the amount of time, labor, and cost that would be required to review this purportedly 'responsive' material for exemptions would be exponential, hindering the agency's ability to process multiple requests efficiently or allocate its resources effectively."

Hunton & Williams LLP v. EPA (D.D.C.) -- ruling that EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of the Army conducted adequate searches for records concerning an industrial site in California, but that none of them established the propriety of their withholdings pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 6.

Tushnet v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (D.D.C.) -- concluding that ICE failed to conduct adequate search for various records concerning counterfeit apparel, and that agency failed to justify the applicability of Exemption 7(E) to industry guides used by agents to detect counterfeit apparel.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.