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Case TitleJAMES MADISON PROJECT et al v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2015cv01478
Date Filed2015-09-10
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Amy Berman Jackson
PlaintiffJAMES MADISON PROJECT
PlaintiffSHANE HARRIS
Case DescriptionThe James Madison Project and Shane Harris, a reporter for the Daily Beast, jointly submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning why David Kendall, Hillary Clinton's private attorney, was allowed to keep a thumb drive copy of her emails. JMP also requested expedited processing, which the agency granted. But after hearing nothing further from the agency, JMP and Harris filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantDEPARTMENT OF STATE
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Opinion/Order [25]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ruled that the State Department has not yet shown that it conducted an adequate search for records concerning the agency's decision to allow David Kendall, the personal attorney for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to retain personal control over a thumb drive containing Clinton's emails, some of which were classified. The James Madison Project and Daily Beast reporter Shane Harris submitted the request, setting a time-frame from January 21, 2013 to August 12, 2015. The agency searched the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Office of the Undersecretary for Management, the Bureau of Administration, and the Office of the Legal Advisor. The components' searches included a variety of keywords, which often differed from component to component. Several searches were limited to 2015, although the request had identified a time frame of 2013-2015. JMP and Harris argued that the searches varied widely and the agency's affidavit had provided no explanation for the inconsistency. The agency argued that courts had previously upheld searches done by various offices. Jackson, however, pointed out that "but the agency misses the point: the problem with the declaration in this case is that it is conclusory, and the searches are deficient because the agencyâ€"for no discernible reasonâ€"searched different data sets using different search terms and different date restrictions, even within the same bureau or office." She observed that "the agency official responsible for coordinating the supervision of the FOIA search would be wise to ensure on remand that the search terms are more uniform, and that it is clear from the declaration that the terms are reasonably calculated to uncover relevant documents." Jackson found that the name of a mid-level employee in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security who had been involved in the decision to provide Kendall with a secure safe was properly redacted under Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). Because Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy had been identified as the official who approved the use of the safe, Jackson found identifying the mid-level employee would not further the public interest. She pointed out that "the agency withheld just his name; it released the Division Chief's title, the names of the higher-level officials with whom he communicated, and the substantive information in the documents in which his name appears. So the Court finds that any public interest in the name of a mid-level manager at the State Department is outweighed by the employee's interest in privacy, especially where his recommendation was ratified by more senior managers whose names have been made public."
Issues: Search - Detailed description of search, Exemption 7(C) - Invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2015-09-101COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF STATE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4238828) filed by The James Madison Project, Shane Harris. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Exhibit LCvR 7.1, # 3 Summons USADC, # 4 Summons USAG, # 5 Summons State)(Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 09/10/2015)
2015-09-10Case Assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson. (rd) (Entered: 09/10/2015)
2015-09-102SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to DEPARTMENT OF STATE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Consent Form, # 2 Notice of Consent)(rd) (Entered: 09/10/2015)
2015-09-103Corporate Disclosure Statement by SHANE HARRIS, JAMES MADISON PROJECT. (Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 09/10/2015)
2015-09-114NOTICE of Appearance by Mark S. Zaid on behalf of All Plaintiffs (Zaid, Mark) (Entered: 09/11/2015)
2015-10-025RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 9/12/2015. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 10/12/2015. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Certified Mail Receipt)(Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 10/02/2015)
2015-10-026RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 9/16/15. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Certified Mail Receipt)(Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 10/02/2015)
2015-10-027RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. DEPARTMENT OF STATE served on 9/16/2015 (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Certified Mail Receipt)(Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 10/02/2015)
2015-10-278ANSWER to Complaint by DEPARTMENT OF STATE.(Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 10/27/2015)
2015-10-28MINUTE ORDER. Before the Court in this FOIA case are a 1 complaint and an 8 answer. The requirements of Local Civil Rule 16.3 and Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure appear to be inapplicable. Defendant shall file a dispositive motion or, in the alternative, a report setting forth the schedule for the completion of its production of documents to plaintiff on or before November 30, 2015. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 10/28/2015. (lcabj3) (Entered: 10/28/2015)
2015-10-28Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant shall file a dispositive motion or, in the alternative, a report setting forth the schedule for the completion of its production of documents to plaintiff on or before 11/30/2015. (jth) (Entered: 10/28/2015)
2015-10-309NOTICE OF RELATED CASE by DEPARTMENT OF STATE. Case related to Case No. 15-1459. (Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 10/30/2015)
2015-11-0410RESPONSE to Notice of Related Case filed by SHANE HARRIS, JAMES MADISON PROJECT. (Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 11/04/2015)
2015-11-2511Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to December 3 by DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 11/25/2015)
2015-11-25MINUTE ORDER granting defendant's unopposed 11 Motion for Extension of Time. Defendant shall file a dispositive motion or, in the alternative, a report setting forth the schedule for the completion of its production of documents to plaintiff on or before December 3, 2015. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 11/25/2015. (lcabj3) (Entered: 11/25/2015)
2015-12-0312STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 12/03/2015)
2015-12-04MINUTE ORDER. In light of the parties' 12 joint status report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a report on the status of the document productions on or before February 12, 2016. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 12/4/2015. (lcabj3) (Entered: 12/04/2015)
2015-12-0913NOTICE of New Information Regarding Defendant's Notice of Related Case by SHANE HARRIS, JAMES MADISON PROJECT (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - Brown Scheduling Order)(Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 12/09/2015)
2015-12-09MINUTE ORDER. Defendant has filed a 9 Notice of Related Case, which asserts that this case is "related" to a case pending before Judge Kollar-Kotelly, Brown v. Dept of State, 15-1459 (CKK). Plaintiff has 10 opposed the related case designation. Under the Local Rules, civil cases can be deemed related when they involve common issues of fact. LCvR 40.5(b)(3). "Where a party objects to a designation that cases are related... the matter shall be determined by the judge to whom the case is assigned." LCvR 40.5(c)(3). "The general rule governing all new cases filed in this courthouse is that they are to be randomly assigned." Tripp v. Exec. Office of the President, 196 F.R.D. 201, 202 (D.D.C. 2000). This "fundamental rationale" serves "to ensure greater public confidence in the integrity of the judicial process" because it "guarantees fair and equal distribution of cases to all judges, avoids public perception or appearance of favoritism in assignments, and reduces opportunities for judge-shopping." Id. Assignment of related cases to the same judge serves as an "exception" to that "general rule," and "rests primarily on considerations of judicial economy." Id. Both cases involve similar requests under the Freedom of Information Act relating to a thumb drive of emails retained by David Kendall, Secretary Clinton's private attorney. However, based on a consideration of all the relevant matters, including the procedural posture of each case, the cases will remain as originally assigned. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 12/9/2015. (lcabj3) (Entered: 12/09/2015)
2016-02-1214STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 02/12/2016)
2016-02-16MINUTE ORDER. Plaintiffs are directed to inform the Court of their position on the schedule proposed in defendant's 14 status report by February 19, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 2/16/2016. (lcabj3) (Entered: 02/16/2016)
2016-02-16Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiffs are to inform the Court of their position on the schedule proposed in Defendant's Status Report by 2/19/2016. (jth) (Entered: 02/16/2016)
2016-02-1615RESPONSE TO ORDER OF THE COURT re Order filed by SHANE HARRIS, JAMES MADISON PROJECT. (Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 02/16/2016)
2016-02-17MINUTE ORDER. In light of the defendant's 14 status report, and the plaintiffs' 15 notice that they do not oppose the defendant's proposed production schedule, the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before April 15, 2016, to update the Court on the status of the document productions and to propose a schedule for further proceedings, if necessary. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 2/17/2016. (lcabj3) (Entered: 02/17/2016)
2016-04-1516Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 04/15/2016)
2016-04-15MINUTE ORDER. In light of the 16 joint status report, the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before May 6, 2016, to update the Court on the status of the document productions and to propose a briefing schedule, if necessary. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 4/15/2016. (lcabj3) (Entered: 04/15/2016)
2016-05-0617Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 05/06/2016)
2016-05-09MINUTE ORDER. Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be filed by June 22, 2016. Plaintiffs' response shall be filed by July 29, 2016. Defendant's reply, if necessary, shall be due by August 26, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 5/9/2016. (lcabj3) (Entered: 05/09/2016)
2016-06-1418Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-15MINUTE ORDER granting defendant's 18 unopposed motion for an extension of time. Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be filed by June 30, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 6/15/2016. (lcabj3) (Entered: 06/15/2016)
2016-06-3019Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment and to Revise Briefing Schedule by DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 06/30/2016)
2016-06-30MINUTE ORDER granting defendant's unopposed 19 motion for an extension of time to file its summary judgment motion. Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be filed by July 29, 2016. Plaintiffs' opposition shall be filed by September 9, 2016. Defendant's reply shall be filed by October 7, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 6/30/2016. (lcabj3) (Entered: 06/30/2016)
2016-07-2920MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A - Stein Declaration, # 2 Exhibit B - Index of Withholdings, # 3 Exhibit C - Selected Documents)(Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 07/29/2016)
2016-09-0921Memorandum in opposition to re 20 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by SHANE HARRIS, JAMES MADISON PROJECT. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit "1" (Rule 56(d) Declaration of Bradley P. Moss, Esq.), # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Statement of Facts Response, # 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Moss, Bradley) (Entered: 09/09/2016)
2016-09-2922Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 20 MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 09/29/2016)
2016-09-30MINUTE ORDER granting the government's 22 unopposed motion for an extension of time. The government's reply in support of its 20 motion for summary judgment shall be filed by October 21, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 9/30/2016. (lcabj3) (Entered: 09/30/2016)
2016-10-2123REPLY to opposition to motion re 20 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration)(Soskin, Eric) (Entered: 10/21/2016)
2017-01-3024ORDER. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and for the reasons stated in the accompanying memorandum opinion, defendant's 20 motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. The agency has justified its withholding under exemption 7(C), but it has failed to prove that its searches were adequate. The parties shall file a joint status report by March 31, 2017 to update the Court on whether further proceedings are necessary. See Order for complete details. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 1/30/2017. (lcabj3) (Entered: 01/30/2017)
2017-01-3025MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 1/30/2017. (lcabj3) (Entered: 01/30/2017)
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by FOIA Project Staff