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Case TitleSiegelman v. United States Department of Justice et al
DistrictNorthern District of Alabama
CitySouthern
Case Number2:2016cv00083
Date Filed2016-01-18
Date Closed2018-02-28
JudgeJudge Madeline Hughes Haikala
PlaintiffJoseph Siegelman
Case DescriptionJoseph Siegelman submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for a report prepared by the Office of Professional Responsibility concerning its investigation of allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. It then denied the request based on Exemption 5 (privileges), Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). Siegelman appealed the denial, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, he filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUnited States Department of Justice
DefendantOffice of Professional Responsibility
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Opinion/Order [34]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in Alabama has ruled that Joseph Siegelman, the son of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, whose bid for re-election ended when he lost the Democratic primary because of allegations of corruption by the U.S. Attorney in Alabama and was subsequently prosecuted and convicted, is entitled to attorney's fees for his suit that forced the Office of Professional Responsibility to disclose the factual portions of its report pertaining to alleged prosecutorial misconduct by the U.S. Attorney. Siegelman requested the 157-page report. The agency withheld the entire report, claiming Exemption 5 (privileges), Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). OPR's decision was upheld on appeal. Siegelman then filed suit and asked the court to conduct an in camera review. As a result of its in camera inspection, the court concluded that 34 pages could be disclosed with redactions. OPR disclosed the redacted pages and Siegelman filed a motion for attorney's fees. The court found that Siegelman was eligible for fees, pointing out that "this litigation caused OPR to make a good faith effort to search through the ROI and determine whether information in the ROI should be disclosed." The court added that "OPR produced information from those 34 pages only after the Court issued a show cause order." The court noted that the subject matter of the report was clearly implicated the public interest. The court pointed out that "it is 'relatively easy' for Mr. Siegelman to demonstrate the 'potential public value' of the FOIA request even though the released portions of the ROI may reveal little." Recognizing that Siegelman had a personal interest in the records, the court observed that "Mr. Siegelman's efforts seem to stem from mixed motives. He and his family certainly have a private interest in the ROI, but Mr. Siegelman fairly points out that the public also has a legitimate interest in OPR's investigation of conduct that led OPR to conclude that 'some employees had exercised poor judgment with respect to discrete issues' in the Siegelman prosecution. Thus, Mr. Siegelman's pursuit of the ROI 'is likely to add to the fund of information that citizens may use in making vital political choices.'" The court concluded that OPR's denial of the request had no reasonable basis in law. The court pointed out that "OPR should have conducted a segregability analysis in response to [Siegelman's] FOIA request and should have disclosed the reasonably segregable portions of the report " at a minimum the pages that OPR produced [a year later]. OPR's decision to withhold most of the ROI was reasonable and was based in the law, but it was not reasonable for OPR to delay a segregability analysis until after Mr. Siegelman filed his lawsuit." Calling Siegelman's fee request "excessive," the court indicated that "under the circumstances, Mr. Siegelman is entitled to a modest award of fees and costs." The court told the parties to confer and agree to an acceptable award.
Issues: Litigation - Attorney's fees - Prevailing party, Litigation - Attorney's fees - Entitlement - Personal interest
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-01-181COMPLAINT against Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice, filed by Joseph Siegelman.(KEK) (Entered: 01/19/2016)
2016-01-20Filing fee: $ 400, receipt number B4601068272. (KEK) (Entered: 01/20/2016)
2016-01-202Summons Issued as to Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice. Returned to Plaintiff for service. (KEK) (Entered: 01/20/2016)
2016-02-223ANSWER to 1 Complaint by Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice.(Bennett, Michelle) (Entered: 02/22/2016)
2016-03-164NOTICE of Appearance by John Jameson Givens on behalf of Joseph Siegelman (Givens, John) (Entered: 03/16/2016)
2016-03-185NOTICE of Appearance by Michael L Allsup on behalf of Joseph Siegelman (Allsup, Michael) (Entered: 03/18/2016)
2016-03-296***STRICKEN*** Brief Motion for Summary Judgment . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Art Leach Affidavit, # 2 Exhibit Judge Clemon Ltr to AG Holder, # 3 Exhibit Judge Clemon Ltr to Pres. Obama, # 4 Exhibit Doug Jones Testimony, # 5 Exhibit Nick Bailey Affidavit, # 6 Exhibit Birmingham News 10-31-07, # 7 Exhibit Birmingham News 10-28-07, # 8 Exhibit Email re Name Change, # 9 Exhibit Ronald Weich Letter, # 10 Exhibit Peter Fernandez Memo, # 11 Exhibit Tamara Grimes Report to OIG, # 12 Exhibit Leura Canary Email 1-25-05, # 13 Exhibit Leura Canary Email 9-15-05, # 14 Exhibit Leura Canary Email 10-26-05, # 15 Exhibit David Johnson Letter, # 16 Exhibit David Margolis Letter, # 17 Exhibit Leura Canary Press Release, # 18 Exhibit David Beiler Case Study, # 19 Exhibit Business Alabama Apr. 2004, # 20 Exhibit Business Alabama Aug. 2004, # 21 Exhibit Tamara Grimes Ltr to AG Holder, # 22 Exhibit Thomas Gallion Affidavit, # 23 Exhibit Kevin Di Gregory Letter, # 24 Exhibit Amy Methvin Transcript, # 25 Exhibit Vince Kilborn Letter, # 26 Exhibit Patty Stemler Letter, # 27 Exhibit Emails re Jury Communication, # 28 Exhibit Judge Mark Wolf Letter, # 29 Exhibit Chris Weller Bio, # 30 Exhibit Sessions Campaign Committee, # 31 Exhibit Pryor Campaign Committee, # 32 Exhibit Don Siegelman Letter, # 33 Exhibit Kenneth Marshall Affidavit, # 34 Exhibit Paul Hamrick Affidavit, # 35 Exhibit Harrison Hickman Affidavit, # 36 Exhibit David Richardson Affidavit, # 37 Exhibit Tamara Grimes Ltr to USA Mullins, # 38 Exhibit Scott Bloch Letter, # 39 Exhibit Email re Allocating Personnel, # 40 Exhibit Kiplinger Article, # 41 Exhibit Kyle Sampson Email, # 42 Exhibit Methvin Transcript Authentication)(Givens, John) Modified on 6/14/2016 (KEK). (Entered: 03/29/2016)
2016-03-297MOTION to Withdraw as Attorney Paul Rand by Joseph Siegelman. (Rand, Paul) (Entered: 03/29/2016)
2016-03-308MOTION to Amend/Correct 6 Brief by Joseph Siegelman. (Siegelman, Joseph) (Entered: 03/30/2016)
2016-04-049TEXT ORDER Paul H. Rand has filed a motion to withdraw 7 The Court GRANTS the motion. Michael Allsup and John Givens will continue to represent the plaintiff. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 4/4/2016. (TLM, ) (Entered: 04/04/2016)
2016-04-0610MOTION to Strike 6 Brief by Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Bennett, Michelle) (Entered: 04/06/2016)
2016-04-0611RESPONSE in Opposition re 10 MOTION to Strike 6 Brief filed by Joseph Siegelman. (Allsup, Michael) (Entered: 04/06/2016)
2016-06-1412INITIAL ORDER FOR FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT CASES. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 6/13/2016. (KEK) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-1413TEXT ORDER: The defendants have filed a motion to strike Mr. Siegelman's brief in support of his motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 10). Because Mr. Siegelman's brief exceeds the page limit set in the initial order entered in this action (Doc. 12), the Court GRANTS the defendants' motion to strike Doc. 6. Mr. Siegelman may file a brief that conforms to the page limit in the initial order. If Mr. Siegelman wishes to exceed the established page limit, then he may seek leave of Court to do so. The Court DENIES Mr. Siegelman's motion to amend his brief as moot. (Doc. 8). The Court directs the Clerk to please TERM Doc. 8. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 6/14/2016. (KEK) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-2914REPORT of Rule 26(f) Planning Meeting. (Allsup, Michael) (Entered: 06/29/2016)
2016-07-2615MOTION for Summary Judgment by Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, # 2 Declaration of Ginae Barnett)(Bennett, Michelle) (Entered: 07/26/2016)
2016-07-2916SCHEDULING ORDER. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 7/29/2016. (KEK) (Entered: 07/29/2016)
2016-08-1617MOTION for Summary Judgment for Plaintiff by Joseph Siegelman. (Allsup, Michael) (Entered: 08/16/2016)
2016-08-1618MOTION for Leave to File Excess Pages in Brief in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment by Joseph Siegelman. (Attachments: # 1 Appendix, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Exhibit, # 7 Exhibit, # 8 Exhibit, # 9 Exhibit, # 10 Exhibit, # 11 Exhibit, # 12 Exhibit, # 13 Exhibit, # 14 Exhibit, # 15 Exhibit, # 16 Exhibit, # 17 Exhibit, # 18 Exhibit, # 19 Exhibit, # 20 Exhibit, # 21 Exhibit, # 22 Exhibit, # 23 Exhibit, # 24 Exhibit, # 25 Exhibit, # 26 Exhibit, # 27 Exhibit, # 28 Exhibit, # 29 Exhibit, # 30 Exhibit, # 31 Exhibit, # 32 Exhibit, # 33 Exhibit, # 34 Exhibit, # 35 Exhibit, # 36 Exhibit, # 37 Exhibit, # 38 Exhibit, # 39 Exhibit, # 40 Exhibit)(Allsup, Michael) (Entered: 08/16/2016)
2016-08-2319RESPONSE in Opposition re 15 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Joseph Siegelman. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Exhibit, # 7 Exhibit, # 8 Exhibit, # 9 Exhibit)(Allsup, Michael) (Entered: 08/23/2016)
2016-09-2020REPLY Brief filed by Defendants Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice re: 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment for Plaintiff , 15 MOTION for Summary Judgment (Defs.' Reply in Supp. of their Mot. for Summ. J. & Mem. in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J.) filed by Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice. (Bennett, Michelle) (Entered: 09/20/2016)
2016-10-1821REPLY to Response to Motion re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment for Plaintiff filed by Joseph Siegelman. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Letter: Weich to Grassley, # 2 Exhibit Letter: Cole to Issa and Grassley)(Allsup, Michael) (Entered: 10/18/2016)
2016-11-0922TEXT ORDER: The Court GRANTS plaintiff Joseph Siegelman's motion for leave to file a brief in excess of 25 pages. (Doc. 18). Mr. Siegelman attached to the motion a copy of his brief in support of summary judgment (Doc. 18-1), and the defendant has responded to Mr. Siegelman's arguments. (See Doc. 20). The Court will treat Doc. 18-1 as Mr. Siegeleman's brief in support of his motion for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 11/9/2016. (KEK) (Entered: 11/09/2016)
2017-03-3123ORDER granting in part and denying in part 17 Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court grants Mr. Siegelmans motion for summary judgment to the extent that Mr. Siegelman asks the Court to conduct an in camera review of the ROI. The Court denies the balance of Mr. Siegelmans motion. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on March 31, 2017. (Haikala, Madeline) (Entered: 03/31/2017)
2017-03-3124ORDER denying 15 Motion for Summary Judgment. Per Document 23, the Court denies OPR's motion for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on March 31, 2017. (Haikala, Madeline) (Entered: 03/31/2017)
2017-04-1025NOTICE by Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice (Notice of Submission of Ex Parte, In Camera Material) (Bennett, Michelle) (Entered: 04/10/2017)
2018-02-0926ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE - The Court ORDERS OPR to SHOW CAUSE by February 23, 2018 why the portions of the report identified above are subject to the FOIA exemptions claimed and cannot be segregated and produced, or to produce those portions of the report to the plaintiff. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 2/9/2018. (KEK) (Entered: 02/09/2018)
2018-02-2327RESPONSE to re 26 Show Cause Order filed by Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice. (Bennett, Michelle) (Entered: 02/23/2018)
2018-02-2828FINAL ORDER - On February 23, 2018, OPR gave notice that it produced the identified non-exempt portions of its report to Mr. Siegelman. (Doc. 27). Because OPR produced the portions of that are not protected from disclosure under FOIA exemptions 3, 5, 6, and 7(C), Mr. Siegelmans request for injunctive relief is now moot. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED AS MOOT. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 2/28/2018. (KEK) (Entered: 02/28/2018)
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by FOIA Project Staff
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