Skip to content

WITTES v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE and 22 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on May 17th, 2018

We have added 139 documents from 20 FOIA cases filed between May 6, 2018 and May 12, 2018. 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 v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed May 7, 2018)
    Benjamin Wittes, editor of the online publication Lawfare, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning payments made by the agency to the Trump International Hotel to reimburse accommodations of foreign diplomats. Wittes also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Wittes filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  2. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 7, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning interviews with Tom Blanoff pertaining to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s alleged misconduct in appointing a replacement for Sen. Barack Obama. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but told Judicial Watch that it would not process the request without a showing that disclosure would be in the public interest. Judicial Watch provided supplemental information as to why disclosure was in the public interest, but the FBI denied the request. Judicial Watch then filed an administrative appeal, which was also denied. Judicial Watch then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  3. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 7, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, who died in 2017. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. Kaplowitz v. Secretary of State (filed May 7, 2018)
    Jonathan Kaplowitz submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning the agency’s decision to not renew his passport. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Kaplowitz that it had been sent to the Bureau of Consular Affairs for a response. After hearing nothing further, Kaplowitz contacted the Inspector General’s office. He finally filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  5. The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) v. Department of Homeland Security (filed May 8, 2018)
    Patrick Michaels, a reporter for the radio broadcast Reveal, which is produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning Enforcement and Removal Operations 2.0. CIR also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, CIR filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (filed May 8, 2018)
    The Center for Public Integrity submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Commerce for records concerning communications between Secretary Wilbur Ross and his staff mentioning Diamond S Shipping, Navigator Holdings, or transoceanic shipping. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Center for Public Integrity filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. MALONE et al v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE et al (filed May 8, 2018)
    Patrick Malone, Pratheek Rebala, and the Center for Public Integrity submitted FOIA requests to the Department of State and the Department of Energy. Malone submitted a request to State for records referencing Pope Francis. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked Malone to narrow its scope, which he did. Rebala submitted a second request to State for records concerning a contract awarded to SCL Group Limited. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request. Malone submitted a FOIA request to Energy for records referencing Pope Francis. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked Malone to narrow the scope of the request. Malone narrowed the scope of his request to eight identified DOE officials. The agency disclosed four responsive emails, but did not inform Malone of his right to appeal. After hearing nothing further from either agency, the Center for Public Integrity filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF MAINE FOUNDATION et al v. US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed May 8, 2018)
    The ACLU of Maine, the ACLU of New Hampshire, and the ACLU of Vermont submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the immigration enforcement policies of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Projection in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The state ACLU offices also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. DHS responded with a single page of statistics. The organizations filed an administrative appeal of that decision. ICE and CBP did not respond any further. The state ACLUs then filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 9, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning communications between the agency and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee pertaining to the committees’ attempts to obtain the FISA applications for Carter Page. Judicial Watch also submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for the same records. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  10. WILDERNESS SOCIETY v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR (filed May 9, 2018)
    The Wilderness Society submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning reports referenced in President Trump’s Executive Order on promoting energy independence. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. For some of the requests, the Bureau of Land Management told the Wilderness Society that it had no records. After the agency failed to respond further, the Wilderness Society filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. EQUITY FORWARD v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed May 9, 2018)
    Equity Forward submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Health and Human Services for records concerning Secretary Alex Azar and his staff’s travel and appointment schedules. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. Equity Forward then requested inclusion in the news media fee category. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Equity Forward filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. JAMES MADISON PROJECT et al v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (filed May 9, 2018)
    The James Madison Project and reporter Brian Karem submitted FOIA requests to the Defense Contract Management Agency. Karem requested expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, James Madison Project and Karem filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. Orocon-Carothers JV1 v. Department of the Navy (filed May 9, 2018)
    Orocon-Carouthers, a construction company, submitted FOIA requests to the Department of the Navy for records concerning an RFP for renovating Building 603. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked Orocon-Carouthers to clarify its request. The company did so. The Navy then provided a fee estimate of $1,216, which the company agreed to pay. Orocon-Carouthers submitted a second FOIA request to the Navy for records concerning possible structural problems at the building. The Navy asked the company to provide the location of the building. Orocon-Carouothers then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND v. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR et al (filed May 10, 2018)
    The Environmental Defense Fund submitted FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior for records concerning the Waste Prevention Rule. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Environmental Defense Fund filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. CENTURY FOUNDATION v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (filed May 10, 2018)
    The Century Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education for records concerning the School Eligibility Service Group’s oversight of schools’ compliance with Title IV. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The Century Foundation also submitted a FOIA request for records concerning Administrative Action and Appeals Service Group enforcement actions. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. After hearing nothing further from the agency pertaining to either request, the Century Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE (filed May 10, 2018)
    The Center for Food Safety submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Agriculture for records concerning the National Organic Program’s proposed amendment to compost standards. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. CFS inquired several times about the status of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, CFS filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  17. Okeayainneh v. United States Department of Justice et al (filed May 10, 2018)
    Julian Okeayainneh, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning oath of office statements for various U.S. Assistant Attorneys. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Okeayainneah filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  18. Friends of the Earth v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (filed May 10, 2018)
    Friends of the Earth submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for records concerning an updated biological assessment submitted by BP for the Cherry Point Marine Terminal. The agency denied the request under Exemption 5 (privileges). Friends of the Earth filed an administrative appeal. The agency acknowledged receipt of the appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Friends of the Earth filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  19. KNIGHT FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY et al v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al (filed May 11, 2018)
    The Knight First Amendment Institute and the ACLU submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense and a number of agencies for records concerning policies on prepublication review. The Knight First Amendment Institute and the ACLU also requested a fee waiver. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests and several agencies denied their request for a fee waiver. However, after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, the Knight First Amendment Institute and the ACLU filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  20. MCCOY v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed May 11, 2018)
    Ann McCoy submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning herself. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. McCoy inquired several times about the status of her requests, but after hearing nothing from the agency, McCoy filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 7 documents from 3 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. Schneider v. Department of Homeland Security et al (filed May 4, 2018)
  2. CASEY v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (filed Jan 4, 2017)
  3. EVANS v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS (filed Nov 16, 2016)

From → FOIA, PACER

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS