About FOIA Lawsuit Data
FOIAproject.org makes available documents and statistics on FOIA lawsuits brought in U.S. district courts which challenge federal government withholding. The current period of coverage includes any lawsuit filed, concluded or pending since October 1, 2004. FOIA lawsuit data is updated daily for any new filings or closures.
For each case, our archive contains the court docket, complaint, opinions issued, and any additional user-contributed documents. The statistical data we have compiled include case counts and duration times.
How to Access FOIA Lawsuit Data
Several tools are available to help you find, list, analyze and expand on the FOIA lawsuit data we’ve compiled. Here’s what we’ve got:
- Search cases. Case search tools let you search our data archives by the agency being sued, judge name, attorney name (plaintiff and defense), plaintiff, district, docket number, and filing or closing date (or date range). And with our DocumentCloud-powered free-text search, you can search within documents, with or without other search criteria, to zero in on the cases or documents you’re interested in.
- Map cases. You can browse cases using a clickable, zoomable map of the United States. As your pointer hovers over the map, a summary of case titles, docket numbers and filing dates appears for the cases filed in each court location.
- Detail listing. From the results of searching or mapping cases, you can drill down to a detailed listing of the information and documents we have for that case.
- Document viewer. Each document associated with the case is stored as a PDF file, which you can view and search using the advanced DocumentCloud viewer.
- By the numbers. Use this unique application to examine statistics we have compiled on FOIA court filings, closings and pending cases. This tool lets you see how long cases have been pending or took to close, and you can examine trends since FY 2005.
- Add documents. You are encouraged to upload additional court documents and related correspondence including how the agency handled the request at the administrative stage. It is not necessary that the case be part of our existing inventory; we encourage interested users to extend our coverage.
How We Obtain and Compile Information
We download court documents using the U.S. Courts’ Public Access to Court Electronic Records system, known as PACER. Included in our archive are all lawsuits in our coverage period for which the “nature of suit” was classified by the federal courts as a Freedom of Information Act case.
We are investigating other methods of identifying cases involving FOIA, even if the nature of the suit wasn’t explicitly specified as FOIA by the courts. And interested users are invited to add cases and documents that may otherwise be missing from our archive.
After obtaining information and documents on each lawsuit, we compile extensive case-by-case data along with several statistical series. These form the basis of our reports on statistical trends and on the composition of FOIA lawsuits; you can access the data through the various tools on this site.