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Case TitleLEOPOLD et al v. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2014cv01056
Date Filed2014-06-24
Date Closed2016-04-11
JudgeJudge James E. Boasberg
PlaintiffJASON LEOPOLD
PlaintiffRYAN NOAH SHAPIRO
Case DescriptionInvestigative journalist Jason Leopold and MIT Ph.D. student Ryan Shapiro submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for records concerning the ongoing dispute between the agency and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence pertaining to the committee's ability to access classified information. Leopold and Shapiro requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and denied Leopold and Shapiro expedited processing, but made no decision on the fee waiver. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Leopold and Shapiro filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit

DefendantCENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
AppealD.C. Circuit 16-5126
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Opinion/Order [25]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge James Boasberg has ruled that the CIA conducted an adequate search for records concerning allegations that it had hacked into secure computers the agency had provided for staff of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee during its investigation of the use of torture by the U.S. In so doing, he dismissed multiple challenges from journalist Jason Leopold and researcher Ryan Shapiro questioning the completeness of the agency's search. After the CIA failed to respond to their request after two months, Leopold and Shapiro filed suit. Over the next year, the CIA produced 82 documents, disclosing 12 in full and 70 with redactions, and prepared a Vaughn index explaining the reasons it withheld the remaining 231 documents. Leopold and Shapiro chose not to challenge any of the exemptions but did question the agency's search. After consulting agency staff familiar with the incident, the CIA decided to search the Office of the Director, the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of Congressional Affairs, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Security using keywords designed to locate responsive records. Leopold and Shapiro argued the agency had not sufficiently explained how it determined when a potentially responsive record was non-responsive. But Boasberg noted that "if, upon closer inspection by CIA personnel, the document was 'clearly' irrelevant to the request, it was deemed 'non-responsive.'" The plaintiffs insisted they should be able to challenge the agency's non-responsiveness determinations and pointed to two cases from the Northern District of California‚Ä"Dunaway v. Webster, 519 F. Supp. 1059 (N.D. Cal. 1981), and ACLU v. FBI, 2013 WL 3346845 (N.D. Cal. July 1, 2013)‚Ä"as supporting their claim. Boasberg, disagreed, noting that "both were cases in which certain documents were already before the court, and the parties were quibbling about the scope of certain redactions. That is not the case here, and with no suggestion that the agency improperly carried out its responsiveness determination, the Court is unwilling to require further and more detailed explanations on this front." Leopold and Shapiro also argued the agency should have provided duplicates that it found during the search because their request specifically asked for duplicates because they might provide more context and nuance. Although there is no legal basis on which to refuse to provide duplicates except a resources claim that producing such records is a waste of the agency's time and funds, Boasberg quickly agreed with the agency's position that once it produced all responsive records its disclosure obligations were at an end. He pointed out that "the government's obligations under FOIA are 'satisfied when an agency produces the requested pages.' While this does not mean that where there are similar but not identical documents, the government may choose which one to produce, 'it would be illogical and wasteful to require an agency to produce multiple copies of the exact same document.' The Court will not so require here." Leopold and Shapiro had also listed records systems drawn from the agency's Privacy Act systems of records notice that they wished the agency to search. The plaintiffs argued the agency had not searched all these systems. But without more evidence that those systems should contain responsive records, Boasberg was reluctant to require the agency to search more broadly. He noted that "plaintiffs have not offered any explanation as to why the specific Privacy Act systems of records identified in their request constitute leads that, on their face, should have been pursued, particularly given the agency's assertion that it searched the relevant offices that managed those systems." He emphasized that "requesters cannot simply demand that an agency carry out the search in a manner they wish by 'mere fiat.' Critical here, too, is that the agency has provided a reasonable explanation for why those purported leads would not assist it in executing its search." As a realistic matter, the agency should decide which records systems to search based on its understanding of where responsive records are most likely to exist. But agencies are also required to explain sufficiently why they decided not to search for records in locations requested by the requester rather than just unilaterally making that determination with no explanation. Boasberg also rejected the claim that "plaintiffs [should be] entitled to summary judgment merely because they might have preferred that the agency use one search over another. This is all the more relevant here where the agency has gone to great lengths at the beginning of the search process to ensure that its effort was designed to maximize responsive results."
Issues: Search - Reasonableness of search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2014-06-241COMPLAINT against CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-3757210) filed by JASON LEOPOLD, RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons CIA, # 3 Summons US Attorney General, # 4 Summons US Attorney's Office)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 06/24/2014)
2014-06-242NOTICE OF RELATED CASE by JASON LEOPOLD, RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. Case related to Case No. 1:14-cv-48-JEB. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 06/24/2014)
2014-06-24Case Assigned to Judge James E. Boasberg. (md, ) (Entered: 06/24/2014)
2014-06-273SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Summons 2nd, # 2 Summons 3rd, # 3 Notice of Consent, # 4 Consent Form) (md, ) (Entered: 06/27/2014)
2014-07-014RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 6/30/2014., RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 6/30/2014. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 7/30/2014.) (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 07/01/2014)
2014-07-175RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY served on 7/7/2014 (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 07/17/2014)
2014-07-296Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Truong, John) (Entered: 07/29/2014)
2014-07-30MINUTE ORDER GRANTING Defendant's 6 Consent Motion for Extension of Time to Answer. The Court ORDERS that Defendant shall file an answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' Complaint by August 13, 2014. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 7/30/14. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 07/30/2014)
2014-07-30Set/Reset Deadline: The Defendant shall file an answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' Complaint by 8/13/2014. (ad) (Entered: 07/30/2014)
2014-08-047NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Vesper Mei on behalf of CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Mei, Vesper) (Entered: 08/04/2014)
2014-08-138ANSWER to Complaint by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY.(Mei, Vesper) (Entered: 08/13/2014)
2014-08-26MINUTE ORDER: The Court ORDERS that the parties shall appear for a status conference on September 4, 2014, at 10:30 a.m., at which time the Court will also address the related cases, 13-1324, 13-1870, and 14-48. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 8/26/14. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 08/26/2014)
2014-08-26Set/Reset Hearing: A Status Conference is set for 9/04/2014 at 10:30 AM in Courtroom 19 before Judge James E. Boasberg, at which time the Court will also address the related cases, 13cv1324, 13cv1870, and 14cv048. (ad) (Entered: 08/26/2014)
2014-09-04ENTERED IN ERROR.....Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge James E. Boasberg: Status Conference held on 9/4/2014. A combined Status Conference for case numbers 13-cv-1324, 13-cv-1870, and 14-cv-0048 is scheduled for 10/7/2014 at 9:30 AM before Judge James E. Boasberg. (Court Reporter Lisa Griffith) (jth) Modified on 9/4/2014 (jth). (Entered: 09/04/2014)
2014-09-04Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge James E. Boasberg: Status Conference held on 9/4/2014. Another Status Conference is scheduled for 10/7/2014 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 19 before Judge James E. Boasberg. (Court Reporter Lisa Griffith) (jth) (Entered: 09/04/2014)
2014-09-04MINUTE ORDER: The Court ORDERS that a further status hearing shall take place on October 7, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 9/4/14. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 09/04/2014)
2014-10-07MINUTE ORDER: As discussed at today's status hearing, the Court ORDERS that Plaintiff shall file any motion for leave to amend his complaint by October 28, 2014. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 10/7/14. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 10/07/2014)
2014-10-07Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge James E. Boasberg: Status Conference held on 10/7/2014. (Plaintiff shall file any motion for leave to amend his complaint by 10/28/2014). (Court Reporter Lisa Griffith) (ad) (Entered: 10/07/2014)
2014-10-289MOTION for Leave to File First Amended Complaint by JASON LEOPOLD, RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit First Amended Complaint, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 10/28/2014)
2014-11-0710NOTICE OF RELATED CASE by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. Case related to Case No. 14-cv-1645. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A - Complaint in Leopold v. CIA, 14-cv-1056)(Mei, Vesper) (Entered: 11/07/2014)
2014-11-1211Memorandum in opposition to re 9 MOTION for Leave to File First Amended Complaint filed by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A - Transcript of 10/7/14 status conference, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Mei, Vesper) (Entered: 11/12/2014)
2014-12-0212ORDER DENYING 9 Motion for Leave to File. The Court ORDERS that Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave is DENIED, and the parties shall appear for a status hearing on January 7, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 12/2/14. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 12/02/2014)
2014-12-02Set/Reset Hearings: Status Hearing scheduled for 1/7/2015 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 19 before Judge James E. Boasberg. (tg ) (Entered: 12/02/2014)
2015-01-07MINUTE ORDER: As discussed at today's status hearing, the Court ORDERS that: 1) The CIA may have until July 20, 2015, to process and release documents to Plaintiff, with the exception of the IG report, which shall be released to Plaintiff at the same time it is released to EPIC in related case No. 14-1056; 2) The CIA shall provide status reports to the Court every 45 days; and 3) The parties shall appear for a further status hearing on July 23, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 1/7/15. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 01/07/2015)
2015-01-07Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge James E. Boasberg: Status Conference held on 1/7/2015. (The CIA may have until 7/20/2015, to process and release documents to Plaintiff, with the exception of the IG report, which shall be released to Plaintiff at the same time it is released to EPIC in related case No. 14-1056). A further Status Conference is set for 7/23/2015, at 9:30 AM, in Courtroom 19, before Judge James E. Boasberg. (Court Reporter Cathryn Jones) (kt) (Entered: 01/07/2015)
2015-02-2413STATUS REPORT by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. (Mei, Vesper) (Entered: 02/24/2015)
2015-04-0914STATUS REPORT by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. (Mei, Vesper) (Entered: 04/09/2015)
2015-05-2615STATUS REPORT by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. (Mei, Vesper) (Entered: 05/26/2015)
2015-06-3016NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Amy E. Powell on behalf of All Defendants Substituting for attorney Vesper Mei (Powell, Amy) (Entered: 06/30/2015)
2015-07-15MINUTE ORDER: The Court ORDERS that the status hearing currently set for July 23, 2015, is VACATED and RESET for August 12, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 7/15/15. (lcjeb1) (Entered: 07/15/2015)
2015-07-16Set/Reset Hearings: The Status Conference set for 7/23/2015, at 9:30 AM, is hereby VACATED and RESCHEDULED for 8/12/2015, at 10:30 AM, in Courtroom 19, before Judge James E. Boasberg. (ad) (Entered: 07/16/2015)
2015-07-1617STATUS REPORT by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. (Powell, Amy) (Entered: 07/16/2015)
2015-07-2918Unopposed MOTION to Continue Status Conference by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Powell, Amy) (Entered: 07/29/2015)
2015-07-30MINUTE ORDER granting Defendant's 18 Unopposed Motion to Continue Status Conference. The Court ORDERS that the status hearing currently set for August 12, 2015, is VACATED and RESET for August 19, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 7/15/15. (lcjeb1) (Entered: 07/30/2015)
2015-07-30Set/Reset Hearings: The Status Conference set for 8/12/2015, at 10:30 AM, is hereby VACATED and RESCHEDULED for 8/19/2015, at 10:00 AM, in Courtroom 19, before Judge James E. Boasberg. (ad) (Entered: 07/30/2015)
2015-08-19MINUTE ORDER: As agreed by the parties at today's status conference, the Court ORDERS that Defendant shall provide Plaintiffs with a preliminary Vaughn Index by October 30, 2015, and the parties shall return for a further status conference on November 13, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 8/18/15. (lcjeb1) (Entered: 08/19/2015)
2015-08-19Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge James E. Boasberg: Status Conference held on 8/19/2015. (Defendant shall provide Plaintiffs with a preliminary Vaughn Index by 10/30/2015). A Status Conference is set for 11/13/2015, at 11:00 AM, in Courtroom 19, before Judge James E. Boasberg. (Court Reporter William Zaremba) (ad) (Entered: 08/19/2015)
2015-11-13MINUTE ORDER: As agreed by the parties at today's status conference, the Court ORDERS that: 1) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be filed on or before December 18, 2015; 2) Plaintiff's Opposition shall be filed on or before January 22, 2016; and 3) Defendant's Reply shall be filed on or before February 5, 2016. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 11/13/15. (lcjeb1) (Entered: 11/13/2015)
2015-11-13Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge James E. Boasberg: Status Conference held on 11/13/2015. Summary Judgment motions due by 12/18/2015, Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 1/22/2016, Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 2/5/2016. (Court Reporter Lisa Griffith) (mpt) (Entered: 11/13/2015)
2015-12-1819MOTION for Summary Judgment by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Mary E. Wilson, # 2 Exhibit A - Index of Disputed Documents, # 3 Exhibit B - Plaintiffs' FOIA Request, # 4 Exhibit C - CIA Acknowledgement Letter, # 5 Exhibit D - Correspondence of Counsel Regarding Narrowing)(Powell, Amy) (Entered: 12/18/2015)
2016-01-2120Consent MOTION to Modify briefing schedule by JASON LEOPOLD, RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 01/21/2016)
2016-01-22MINUTE ORDER: The Court ORDERS that: 1) Plaintiffs' consent 20 Motion to Modify the Briefing Schedule is GRANTED; 2) Plaintiffs' opposition shall be filed on or before February 1, 2016; 3) and Defendant's reply shall be filed on or before February 9, 2016. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 1/22/16. (lcjeb1) (Entered: 01/22/2016)
2016-01-25Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiffs' opposition shall be filed on or before 2/01/2016; and Defendant's reply shall be filed on or before 2/09/2016. (ad) (Entered: 01/25/2016)
2016-02-0121Memorandum in opposition to re 19 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by JASON LEOPOLD, RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1-4, # 2 Declaration Lutz, # 3 Text of Proposed Order, # 4 Statement of Facts)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 02/01/2016)
2016-02-0522Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Powell, Amy) (Entered: 02/05/2016)
2016-02-05MINUTE ORDER granting Defendant's 22 Motion for Extension of Time. The Court ORDERS that Defendant shall file its Reply by no later than March 16, 2016. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 02/05/2016. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 02/05/2016)
2016-02-05Set/Reset Deadline: The Defendant shall file its Reply by no later than 3/16/2016. (ad) (Entered: 02/05/2016)
2016-03-1623REPLY to opposition to motion re 19 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration A. Shiner, # 2 Response to Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts)(Powell, Amy) (Entered: 03/16/2016)
2016-04-0824ORDER: For the reasons set forth in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, the Court ORDERS that: 1) Defendant's 19 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED; and 2) Judgment is ENTERED in favor of Defendant. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 4/8/16. (lcjeb1) (Entered: 04/08/2016)
2016-04-0825MEMORANDUM OPINION re 24 Order granting Defendant's 19 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 4/8/16. (lcjeb1) (Entered: 04/08/2016)
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