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Case TitleJUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2015cv01983
Date Filed2015-11-10
Date Closed2016-09-29
JudgeJudge Richard J. Leon
PlaintiffJUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
Case DescriptionJudicial Watch submitted a number of FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning funds spent on travel by the President and others requiring Secret Service protection. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after the agency failed to respond to any of the requests, Judicial Watch filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Adequacy - Search, Litigation - Vaughn index, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantU.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
AppealD.C. Circuit 16-5339
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Opinion/Order [24]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Richard Leon has ruled that Judicial Watch has not provided evidence that the Department of Homeland Security has a policy and practice of failing to respond to the organization's requests for travel-related documents within a reasonable amount of time. While Judicial Watch alleged a violation of FOIA, it included a second claim alleging that the agency had a pattern and practice of refusing to respond to its requests on time. Explaining that the D.C. Circuit had recognized an equitable claim in Payne Enterprises v. United State, 836 F.2d 486 (D.C. Cir. 1988), for agency policies and practices that consistently violated FOIA, Leon pointed out that "Judicial Watch has failed to allege sufficient facts to state a 'policy and practice claim.'. . .In support of its claim, Judicial Watch alleges that, at the time it filed its Complaint in November 2015, DHS had yet to make a determination on 19 FOIA requests that were submitted between July 2014 and August 2015. Taken by itself, this allegation is insufficient to show DHS 'adopted, endorsed, or implemented' a policy of violating FOIA's requirements. Judicial Watch points to no fact or statement to establish why the requests were delayed or how the delays were the result of an either formal or informal DHS policy or practice to violate FOIA's requirements, rather than an inevitable, but unintended delay attributable to a lack of resources. Rather than allege facts that, if true, would establish a policy or practice of violating FOIA, Judicial Watch simply jumps to the ultimate legal conclusion and asserts that such a policy exists." He added that "Judicial Watch does not allege any agency policy or practice, either formal or informal, that rises to the level recognized in Payne, and cannot rest on the mere fact of delay alone to establish a claim." Turning to the remaining FOIA claim, Leon found it was now moot. He noted that "neither DHS nor Judicial Watch has formally moved to dismiss or withdraw Count I, but the parties have jointly represented to the Court 'that Count I of the complaint has been satisfied by the DHS's production of all of the requested, responsive non-exempt records.'"
Issues: Litigation - Jurisdiction - Failure to State a Claim, Litigation - Jurisdiction - Moot
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2015-11-101COMPLAINT against U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4311910) filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons DHS, # 3 Summons US Attorney General)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 11/10/2015)
2015-11-102LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 11/10/2015)
2015-11-123NOTICE OF PLAINTIFF'S CORRECTED FILING by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. re 1 Complaint, (Attachments: # 1 Summons U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 11/12/2015)
2015-11-134SUMMONS Issued Electronically as to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, U.S. Attorney (Attachments: # 1 Consent Forms)(jf) (Entered: 11/13/2015)
2015-11-175SUMMONS Issued Electronically as to U.S. Attorney (jf) (Entered: 11/17/2015)
2015-12-036STANDING ORDER. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 12/03/15. (lcrjl1, ) (Entered: 12/03/2015)
2015-12-087RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 11/23/2015. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 12/23/2015.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 11/23/2015., RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY served on 11/23/2015 (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Cristina Rotaru)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 12/08/2015)
2015-12-228ANSWER to Complaint of Judicial Watch by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.(Sealls, Kenneth) (Entered: 12/22/2015)
2016-01-219Joint STATUS REPORT of the Parties by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Sealls, Kenneth) (Entered: 01/21/2016)
2016-02-0110SCHEDULING ORDER : Upon consideration of the representations made by the parties in the initial joint status report. It is hereby ordered that: Defendant's motion for judgment due by 2/12/2016; response due by 3/11/2016, and reply due by 3/25/2016. If summary judgment briefing is necessary, the defendant's summary judgment motion due by 3/24/2016; response/cross motion due by 4/21/2016; response/reply to cross motion due by 5/19/2016, and plaintiff' reply to cross motion due by 6/2/2016. SEE ORDER FOR MORE DEADLINES. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 02/01/6. (tb) (Entered: 02/01/2016)
2016-02-1211MOTION for Judgment on the Pleadings on Plaintiff's "Policy and Practice" Claim by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Sealls, Kenneth) (Entered: 02/12/2016)
2016-02-1912MOTION for Extension of Time to Request Discovery by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 02/19/2016)
2016-02-2213MOTION for Discovery by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 02/22/2016)
2016-02-24MINUTE ORDER granting nunc pro tunc 12 MOTION for Extension of Time to Request Discovery. It hereby ORDERED that plaintiff's motion is GRANTED. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 02/24/2016. (lcrjl1, ) (Entered: 02/24/2016)
2016-03-1214Memorandum in opposition to re 11 MOTION for Judgment on the Pleadings on Plaintiff's "Policy and Practice" Claim filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Justin McCarthy Declaration, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 03/12/2016)
2016-03-1415MOTION for Order to Accept Opposition as Timely Filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 03/14/2016)
2016-03-1816Memorandum in opposition to re 13 MOTION for Discovery filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Sealls, Kenneth) (Entered: 03/18/2016)
2016-03-2417Joint MOTION to Vacate Summary Judgment Briefing Schedule by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Sealls, Kenneth) (Entered: 03/24/2016)
2016-03-2518REPLY to opposition to motion re 11 MOTION for Judgment on the Pleadings on Plaintiff's "Policy and Practice" Claim filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Sealls, Kenneth) (Entered: 03/25/2016)
2016-03-29MINUTE ORDER granting 17 Joint Motion to Vacate Summary Briefing Schedule. It is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. It is further ORDERED that the 10 Scheduling Order is hereby amended such that the summary judgment briefing schedule with respect to Count I of the Complaint is hereby VACATED. It is further ORDERED that the parties shall jointly propose a summary judgment briefing schedule with respect to Count II of the Complaint, if the parties determine summary judgment briefing on that Count is necessary. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 03/29/2016. (lcrjl1, ) (Entered: 03/29/2016)
2016-04-0119REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 MOTION for Discovery filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 04/01/2016)
2016-05-1120MOTION for Leave to File Supplement by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Supplement, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 05/11/2016)
2016-05-3121Memorandum in opposition to re 20 MOTION for Leave to File Supplement filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Sealls, Kenneth) (Entered: 05/31/2016)
2016-06-1122REPLY to opposition to motion re 20 MOTION for Leave to File Supplement filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Burke, Lauren) (Entered: 06/11/2016)
2016-09-28MINUTE ORDER: Upon due consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Supplement for Discovery and Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings 20 , it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED and plaintiff's supplement is deemed filed. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 09/28/16. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 09/28/2016)
2016-09-2823SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM to re 14 Memorandum in Opposition, 13 MOTION for Discovery filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (znmw) (Entered: 09/29/2016)
2016-09-29MINUTE ORDER: Upon due consideration of Plaintiff's Motion to Accept Opposition Brief as Timely Filed 15 , it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED and the opposition is deemed timely filed. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 09/29/16. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 09/29/2016)
2016-09-29MINUTE ORDER: Upon due consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Take Discovery 13 , it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is DENIED. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 09/29/16. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 09/29/2016)
2016-09-2924MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 09/29/16. (tb) (Entered: 09/29/2016)
2016-09-2925ORDER: For the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion entered this date; it is hereby ordered that defendant's 11 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is GRANTED, and Count II of plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice. It is further ordered that Count 1 of the complaint is DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. This is a final appealable order. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 09/29/16. (tb) (Entered: 09/29/2016)
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