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Jan 23 20

FOIA Lawsuits Are Taking Longer To Resolve

by FOIA Project Staff

There has been a dramatic rise in pending FOIA cases. At the end of FY 2016, the number of pending FOIA lawsuits totaled 702, but by the end of FY 2019, that number more than doubled to 1,448. See Figure 1. In addition, cases that have been pending for two or more years are nearly two-and-a-half times greater, rising from 138 at the end of FY 2016 to 330 at the end of FY 2019.

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Figure 1. Pending FOIA Lawsuits Climb As Cases Take Longer to Resolve
(Click for larger image)

As Figure 1 makes clear, the pending caseload has continued to balloon because closures have lagged far behind new filings. In addition, although the number of FOIA lawsuits has increased since President Trump assumed office, new filings plateaued this past year. Levels in FY 2019 were about the same as in FY 2018: ten fewer suits were filed (849 vs 859) in FY 2019, while the number of agencies sued increased slightly by twelve (1144 vs 1132) over levels in FY 2018. Yet the total pending caseload has continued to rise. See Table 1.


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Jan 21 20

December 2019 FOIA Litigation with Five-Year Monthly Trends

by FOIA Project Staff

During the month of December 2019 federal district courts saw a total of 52 new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed under 5 U.S.C. 552. To place this number in perspective, 52 new filings compares with a monthly average of 73 filings during the last 12 months. This month’s total brought overall FOIA filings on an annual basis for these last 12 months to 880.

The figure below provides a more detailed view of monthly trends during the past five years. The height of each bar reflects the number of filings in that month. To see the actual filing count mouse over any bar. The superimposed line over the bars is the moving 12-month average. It is computed by adding up the 12 months ending at a given month, and then dividing that total by 12 to obtain the monthly average over this period. Mousing over any bar also shows the calculated result for this moving average for that given month.
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Jan 17 20

New York Civil Liberties Union v. Administration for Children and Families et al and 11 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 62 documents from 12 FOIA cases filed between January 5, 2020 and January 11, 2020. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. New York Civil Liberties Union v. Administration for Children and Families et al (filed Jan 9, 2020)
    The New York Civil Liberties Union submitted a FOIA request to the Administration for Children for records concerning a grant program run by the agency designed to use allegations of gang violence to deport unaccompanied minor children. NYCLU also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request but after hearing nothing further from the agency NYCLU filed suit read more…
Jan 17 20

FOIA Activity: 11 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 11 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between January 5, 2020 and January 11, 2020. These are associated with 11 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAC 2:2018cv05320Citizens Commission on Human Rights v. United States Food and Drug Administration

    • January 8, 2020: DISMISSAL ORDER by Judge Consuelo B. Marshall, re Stipulation to Dismiss Case 34. Pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the separately filed stipulation of the parties, this action is dismissed. The Court shall retain jurisdiction over the issue of attorneys fees. All pending motions are hereby taken off calendar and now moot. Case Terminated. Made JS-6. (shb)
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Jan 10 20

The New York Times Company v. Department of Defense and 8 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 30 documents from 6 FOIA cases filed between December 29, 2019 and January 4, 2020. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. The New York Times Company v. Department of Defense (filed Jan 3, 2020)
    The New York Times submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Defense for records concerning President Trump’s revised set of principles, standards, and procedures for counter-terrorism kill-or-capture operations, replacing President Obama’s guidance. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the New York Times filed suit read more…
Jan 10 20

FOIA Activity: 5 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 5 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between December 29, 2019 and January 4, 2020. These are associated with 5 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. DC 1:2017cv01221BELL v. BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO & FIREARMS

    • January 3, 2020: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION in support of [33] Order granting Defendant's [30] Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Kelly on 1/3/2020. (lctjk3)
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Jan 7 20

FOIA Activity: 43 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 41 documents from 7 FOIA cases filed between December 22, 2019 and December 28, 2019. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (filed Dec 23, 2019)
    Judicial Watch submitted a request to the CIA for records concerning CIA official Eric Ciaramella, who conservative media allege is the whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Trump’s phone call to Ukraine. After hear nothing further from the agency, it submitted a second FOIA request for records on Ciaramella, this time asking for expedited processing read more…
Jan 7 20

FOIA Activity: 1 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 1 decision of a procedural or substantive nature filed between December 22, 2019 and December 28, 2019. These are associated with 1 FOIA case pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on the case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  • NYS 1:2019cv01574The Innocence Project, Inc. v. National Museum of Health and Medicine et al

    • December 23, 2019: ORDER granting [50] Motion to Seal Document [50] LETTER MOTION to Seal Document [49] Order on Motion for Extension of Time to File, [47] Order,, addressed to Judge Alison J. Nathan from Jonathan Manes dated Dec. 21, 2019. LETTE R MOTION for Extension of Time to File and to Excuse Late Filing addressed to Judge Alison J. Nathan from Jonathan Manes dated Dec. 21, 2019. ; granting [50] Letter Motion for Extension of Time to File. The Court previously ordered Plaintiff to give notice to the author and subject of a particular document, which may be subject to the Privacy Act, that Plaintiff seeks unrestricted disclosure of the document. Dkt. No. 45. On December 20, 2019, the Court received a letter from the author of the document, asking for an extension of time to obtain counsel and oppose unrestricted disclosure of the document. The Court hereby extends the author's time to file briefing opposing disclosure of the document to January 31, 2020. The Court further orders that the letter it received be filed under seal. Chambers will mail a copy of this Order to the author of the document. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Alison J. Nathan on 12/23/2019) Copies Mailed By Chambers. (kv) Transmission to Sealed Records Clerk for processing.
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Dec 30 19

WITTES et al v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION and 16 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 122 documents from 15 FOIA cases filed between December 15, 2019 and December 21, 2019. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. WITTES et al v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (filed Dec 18, 2019)
    Benjamin Wittes and Scott Anderson, editors of Lawfare, submitted two FOIA requests to the FBI for records. Their first FOIA request asked for records concerning any accusations of misconduct against any FBI employee for participating in partisan politics. Their second FOIA request focused on a PowerPoint presentation given to senior officials making specific reference to former FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok read more…
Dec 30 19

FOIA Activity: 12 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 12 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between December 15, 2019 and December 21, 2019. These are associated with 12 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. AK 3:2018cv00227Inter-Cooperative Exchange v. United States Department of Commerce et al

    • December 16, 2019: ORDER GRANTING [21] Motion for Summary Judgment; and DENYING [24] Motion for Discovery. Signed by Judge Timothy M. Burgess on 12/16/2019. (NMG, CHAMBERS STAFF)
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