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Case TitleJUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2012cv02014
Date Filed2012-12-17
Date Closed2014-08-05
JudgeJudge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein
PlaintiffJUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Opinion/Order [32]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Barbara Rothstein has ruled that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conducted an adequate search for records concerning Mohamed Atta, one of the 911 hijackers, and that it properly withheld most of them under Exemption 7(A) (ongoing investigation or proceeding). In response to Judicial Watch's request for visa records on Atta, USCIS denied the request entirely. After consultation with the FBI, the agency released nine heavily redacted records, claiming Exemption 7(A). Rothstein found the agency's affidavit provided sufficient detail concerning its search. The affidavit indicated that "USCIS employees determined that the relevant records would be located within the program offices for Fraud Detection and National Security, Service Center Operations, and the Field Office Directorate." Those offices were searched electronically and the agency's affidavit provided "the specific search terms used by USCIS employees to conduct the search, including, 'the records' subject's name, date of birth, place of birth, and the subject's application receipt number.'" Judicial Watch questioned the search because several records disclosed by the 911 Commission had not been located. But noting that the records used by the 911 Commission were created before the Department of Homeland Security was established, she pointed out that "it cannot be assumed that the records were in the custody and control of USCIS at the time of the FOIA request." Judicial Watch also challenged the invocation of Exemption 7(A) because it was based on a claim that there was an ongoing investigation of the 911 attacks, rather than of Atta himself, who died 12 years ago. Rothstein, however, observed that "the fact that Atta is dead, as Judicial Watch repeatedly points out, does not render the exemption irrelevant, because the investigation into the 9-11 attacks is still ongoing."
Issues: Adequacy - Search, Exemption 7(A) - Interference with ongoing investigation
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2012-12-171COMPLAINT against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ( Filing fee $ 350 receipt number 0090-3164264) filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons)(Orfanedes, Paul) (Entered: 12/17/2012)
2012-12-172LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Orfanedes, Paul) (Entered: 12/17/2012)
2012-12-17Case Assigned to Judge Richard W. Roberts. (ls, ) (Entered: 12/17/2012)
2012-12-173ELECTRONIC SUMMONS (3) Issued as to UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Consent Notice)(ls, ) (Entered: 12/17/2012)
2012-12-174NOTICE of Appearance by Michael Bekesha on behalf of JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 12/17/2012)
2013-01-075RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 12/21/2012. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 1/20/2013. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Cristina Rotaru)(Orfanedes, Paul) (Entered: 01/07/2013)
2013-01-076RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 12/21/12. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Cristina Rotaru)(Orfanedes, Paul) (Entered: 01/07/2013)
2013-01-077RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY served on 12/21/2012 (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Cristina Rotaru)(Orfanedes, Paul) (Entered: 01/07/2013)
2013-01-188NOTICE of Appearance by Patrick D. Davis on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 01/18/2013)
2013-01-189MOTION for Extension of Time to Respond to the Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 01/18/2013)
2013-01-2310RESPONSE re 9 MOTION for Extension of Time to Respond to the Complaint filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 01/23/2013)
2013-02-1311ANSWER to Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.(Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 02/13/2013)
2013-03-0412ORDER setting initial scheduling conference for April 3, 2013. See Order for additional deadlines and information. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 03/04/2013. (DCL) (Entered: 03/04/2013)
2013-03-1213Proposed Scheduling Order Filed Jointly by the Parties by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Davis, Patrick) Modified on 3/13/2013 to correct docket text (jf, ). (Entered: 03/12/2013)
2013-04-02Set/Reset Hearings: Scheduling Conference set for 4/3/2013 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 9 before Judge Richard W. Roberts. (hs) (Entered: 04/02/2013)
2013-04-03Minute Entry; for proceedings held before Judge Richard W. Roberts: Scheduling Conference held on 4/3/2013. Scheduling Order to issue via chambers. (Court Reporter Scott L. Wallace.) (hs) (Entered: 04/03/2013)
2013-04-0314SCHEDULING ORDER: See Order for deadlines and information. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 04/03/2013. (DCL) (Entered: 04/03/2013)
2013-04-03Set/Reset Deadlines: Dispositive Motions due by 4/26/2013. Response to Dispositive Motions due by 5/24/2013. Reply to Dispositive Motions due by 6/11/2013. Replies due by 6/28/2013. (hs) (Entered: 04/03/2013)
2013-04-2415Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 04/24/2013)
2013-06-12MINUTE ORDER: In light of paragraph 3 of the Scheduling Order, it is hereby ORDERED that the defendant's unopposed motion 15 be, and hereby is, DENIED as moot, and is treated as a Consent Notice. Issued by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 06/12/2013. (DCL) (Entered: 06/12/2013)
2013-07-1216Case reassigned to Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein. Judge Richard W. Roberts no longer assigned to the case. (ds) (Entered: 07/12/2013)
2013-07-2517STANDING ORDER. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 7/25/13. (Reed, Heather) (Entered: 07/25/2013)
2013-07-2618Consent MOTION to Amend/Correct the Scheduling Order by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 07/26/2013)
2013-07-29MINUTE ORDER granting 18 Defendant's Consent Motion to Amend/Correct the Scheduling Order. This case shall proceed with thefollowing amended schedule: September 13, 2013: Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment; October 14, 2013: Plaintiffs Opposition and Cross Motion; November 1, 2013: Defendants Reply and Opposition; November 20, 2013: Plaintiffs Reply. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 7/29/13.(lcbjr2) (Entered: 07/29/2013)
2013-07-29Set/Reset Deadlines: Dispositive Motions due by 9/13/2013; Response to Dispositive Motions due by 10/14/2013; Cross Motions due by 11/1/2013; Reply to Dispositive Motions/Opposition due by 11/20/2013. (tth) (Entered: 07/29/2013)
2013-09-1319MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Declaration of Jill A. Eggleston and Attachments, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 09/13/2013)
2013-10-0920MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 19 MOTION for Summary Judgment and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 10/09/2013)
2013-10-09MINUTE ORDER granting 20 Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply re 19 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff's Response and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due October 21, 2013. Defendant's Reply in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment and Response to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due November 8, 2013. Plaintiff's Reply in Support of it Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due November 27, 2013. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 10/9/13. (lcbjr4) (Entered: 10/09/2013)
2013-10-2121NOTICE of Appearance by Ramona Raula Cotca on behalf of JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Cotca, Ramona) (Entered: 10/21/2013)
2013-10-2122Memorandum in opposition to re 19 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of McCarthy with Ex. A-G, # 2 Declaration of Bekesha with Ex. F, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Cotca, Ramona) (Entered: 10/21/2013)
2013-10-2123Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment with Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of McCarthy with Ex. A-G, # 2 Declaration of Bekesha with Ex. F, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Cotca, Ramona) (Entered: 10/21/2013)
2013-10-2524MOTION for Extension of Time to File Defendant's Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute Nunc Pro Tunc by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 10/25/2013)
2013-10-2525RESPONSE re 24 MOTION for Extension of Time to File Defendant's Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute Nunc Pro Tunc filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Cotca, Ramona) (Entered: 10/25/2013)
2013-10-28MINUTE ORDER granting 24 Defendant's Motion for Extension of Time to File Defendant's Statement of Material Facts. On or before November 1, 2013, Plaintiff may amend its Memorandum of Opposition to 19 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment or its Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment in response to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts. All other deadlines shall remain unchanged (see this Court's Minute Order of October 9, 2013). SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 10/28/13. (lcbjr4) (Entered: 10/28/2013)
2013-11-0126RESPONSE TO ORDER OF THE COURT re Order on Motion for Extension of Time to,, file Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Cotca, Ramona) (Entered: 11/01/2013)
2013-11-0827REPLY to opposition to motion re 19 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 11/08/2013)
2013-11-0828Memorandum in opposition to re 23 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment with Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Davis, Patrick) (Entered: 11/08/2013)
2013-11-2529REPLY to opposition to motion re 23 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment with Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 11/25/2013)
2014-06-1630NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Timothy Andrew Johnson on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Substituting for attorney Patrick D. Davis (Johnson, Timothy) (Entered: 06/16/2014)
2014-08-0131ORDER granting 19 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and denying 23 Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 8/1/14. (lcbjr4) (Entered: 08/01/2014)
2014-08-0132MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 8/1/14. (lcbjr4) (Entered: 08/01/2014)
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by FOIA Project Staff