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Case TitleAMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2016cv01355
Date Filed2016-06-28
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Timothy J. Kelly
PlaintiffAMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE
Case DescriptionThe American Center for Law and Justice submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State concerning a report on Fox News that the video recording of a December 2, 2013 Daily Press Briefing was altered and/or deleted. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the American Center for Law and Justice filed suit.
Complaint issues: Litigation - Vaughn index, Adequacy - Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE The Executive Office, Office of the Legal Adviser
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Opinion/Order [34]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Timothy Kelly has ruled that the Department of State properly invoked Exemption 5 (privileges) to redact documents concerning the alleged deletion or manipulation of video footage of a 2013 State Department press briefing at which then State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki implied to Fox News Reporter James Rosen that her predecessor had lied to Rosen about whether or not the Obama administration had secret bilateral talks with Iran in 2011. In 2016, Obama Deputy National Security Advisor reportedly admitted that the talks with Iran took place in 2011. Within weeks of that report, Rosen claimed the State Department had removed eight minutes of the 2013 press briefing including his exchange with Psaki. The American Center for Law and Justice asked for records concerning the deleted tape. The State Department disclosed 34 unredacted documents and 35 documents with redactions under Exemption 5, claiming the redactions were justified by the attorney-client privilege and the deliberative process privilege. Kelly found that emails concerning preparation for the press briefing were both predecisional and deliberative. Kelly pointed out that "State's assertion that these are recommendations, and not final decisions, is further confirmed by the fact that neither [Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf] or Rhodes was clearly 'senior' to Psaki " Harf was Psaki's subordinate in the [the Bureau of Public Affairs] and Rhodes worked in a separate executive branch entity." Several of State's redactions involved draft talking points for the press briefing. Finding they qualified for protection under the deliberative process privilege, Kelly noted that "the 'decision' in this instance is not a press briefing, or how to respond to a particular press inquiry, but rather the development of a set of talking points to address future press inquiries." He added that "the unredacted portions of the documents support this claim " they show a back-and-forth discussion about how to revise these talking points. Also, the withheld material is predecisional in that there is no indication that the talking points were ultimately finalized, or even used." Kelly found that the State Department had failed to provide sufficient information to justify its claims on two emails " one withheld under the deliberative process privilege and the other under the presidential communications privilege. He ordered State to supplement its affidavits to justify the two claims.
Issues: Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Predecisional, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Deliberative
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-06-281COMPLAINT against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4583826) filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit FOIA Request, # 2 Exhibit State Department FOIA Request Response)(May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-282CIVIL COVER SHEET by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE.(May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-283REQUEST FOR SUMMONS TO ISSUE filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE.(May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-284REQUEST FOR SUMMONS TO ISSUE filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE.(May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-285REQUEST FOR SUMMONS TO ISSUE filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE.(May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-286NOTICE of Appearance by Colby Mims May on behalf of AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-287NOTICE of Appearance by Colby Mims May on behalf of AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-288NOTICE of Appearance by Colby Mims May on behalf of AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-289MOTION for Leave to Appear Pro Hac Vice :Attorney Name- Benjamin Paul Sisney, :Firm- American Center For Law & Justice, :Address- 201 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002. Phone No. - 202-546-8890. Fax No. - 202-546-9309 Filing fee $ 100, receipt number 0090-4583944. Fee Status: Fee Paid. by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-2810MOTION for Leave to Appear Pro Hac Vice :Attorney Name- Craig Littleton Parshall, :Firm- American Center For Law & Justice, :Address- 201 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002. Phone No. - 202-546-8890. Fax No. - 202-546-9309 Filing fee $ 100, receipt number 0090-4583972. Fee Status: Fee Paid. by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-2811NOTICE of Appearance by Colby Mims May on behalf of AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (May, Colby) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-28Case Assigned to Judge Rudolph Contreras. (md) (Entered: 06/28/2016)
2016-06-2912SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Consent Form)(sb) (Entered: 06/29/2016)
2016-07-05MINUTE ORDER granting 9 10 Motions for Leave to Appear Pro Hac Vice : Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 83.2, it is hereby ORDERED that Benjamin Paul Sisney and Craig Littleton Parshall are admitted to represent Plaintiff pro hac vice in this case. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 7/5/2016. (lcrc3) (Entered: 07/05/2016)
2016-08-0513RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 8/3/2016. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 9/2/2016. (May, Colby) (Entered: 08/05/2016)
2016-08-0514RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 08/03/2016. (May, Colby) (Entered: 08/05/2016)
2016-08-0515RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE served on 8/3/2016 (May, Colby) (Entered: 08/05/2016)
2016-09-0216LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (Sekulow, Jay) (Entered: 09/02/2016)
2016-09-0217ANSWER to Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE.(Kishore, Deepthy) (Entered: 09/02/2016)
2016-09-12MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a proposed briefing schedule on or before September 27, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 9/12/2016. (lcrc3) (Entered: 09/12/2016)
2016-09-2718Joint STATUS REPORT and Plaintiff's Proposed Briefing Schedule by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Sekulow, Jay) (Entered: 09/27/2016)
2016-09-28MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 18 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a joint status report on or before November 11, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 9/28/2016. (lcrc3) (Entered: 09/28/2016)
2016-09-29Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 11/11/2016 (tj) (Entered: 09/29/2016)
2016-11-1119Joint STATUS REPORT by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Sekulow, Jay) (Entered: 11/11/2016)
2016-11-14MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 19 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a joint status report on or before December 13, 2016. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 11/14/2016. (lcrc3) (Entered: 11/14/2016)
2016-12-1320Joint STATUS REPORT of the parties by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Sekulow, Jay) (Entered: 12/13/2016)
2016-12-13MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 20 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a joint status report on or before January 18, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 12/13/2016. (lcrc3) (Entered: 12/13/2016)
2017-01-1821Joint STATUS REPORT by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Sekulow, Jay) (Entered: 01/18/2017)
2017-01-18MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 21 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a joint status report on or before February 17, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 1/18/2017. (lcrc3) (Entered: 01/18/2017)
2017-02-1722Joint STATUS REPORT by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Sekulow, Jay) (Entered: 02/17/2017)
2017-02-17MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 22 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a joint status report on or before April 14, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 2/17/2017. (lcrc3) (Entered: 02/17/2017)
2017-02-22Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 4/14/2017 (tj) (Entered: 02/22/2017)
2017-04-1223NOTICE of Appearance by Abigail A. Southerland on behalf of AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 04/12/2017)
2017-04-1424Joint STATUS REPORT by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 04/14/2017)
2017-04-17MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 24 parties' joint status report, it is HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff shall provide Defendant with a complete, written list of objections concerning information withheld from Plaintiff on or before April 21, 2017; it is FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a joint status report and proposed briefing schedule on or before April 28, 2017. (So Ordered Judge Rudolph Contreras on 4/17/2017).(lcrc3) (Entered: 04/17/2017)
2017-04-2825Joint STATUS REPORT by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 04/28/2017)
2017-05-01MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 25 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant shall file its motion for summary judgment on or before May 26, 2017; Plaintiff shall file its combined opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment and any cross-motion for summary judgment, which shall not exceed sixty (60) pages, on or before June 23, 2017; Defendant shall file its combined reply in support of its motion for summary judgment and opposition to any cross-motion on or before July 21, 2017; and Plaintiff shall file its reply, if any, in support of its cross-motion for summary judgment on or before August 4, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 5/1/2017. (lcrc3) (Entered: 05/01/2017)
2017-05-03Set/Reset Deadlines: Cross Motions due by 7/23/2017. Response to Cross Motions due by 7/21/2017. Reply to Cross Motions due by 8/4/2017. Summary Judgment motions due by 5/26/2017. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 6/23/2017. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 7/21/2017. (tj) (Entered: 05/03/2017)
2017-05-2626MOTION for Summary Judgment and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion, and Statement of Material Facts by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Letter from Abigail A. Southerland (Exhibit A), # 2 Declaration of Eric F. Stein (Exhibit B), # 3 Vaughn Index (Exhibit C), # 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Kishore, Deepthy) (Entered: 05/26/2017)
2017-06-2327MOTION for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit C, # 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 06/23/2017)
2017-06-2328Memorandum in opposition to re 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (See Docket Entry 27 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 06/26/2017)
2017-06-3029NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Cesar A. Lopez-Morales on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE Substituting for attorney Deepthy Kishore (Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 06/30/2017)
2017-07-1130Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply and to Modify Briefing Schedule by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 07/11/2017)
2017-07-11MINUTE ORDER granting 30 Defendant's Consent Motion for Extension of Time. It is hereby ORDERED that Defendant shall file its combined reply in support of its motion for summary judgment and opposition to Plaintiff's cross-motion on or before August 4, 2017. It is FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall file its reply, if any, in support of its cross-motion on or before August 18, 2017. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 7/11/2017. (lcrc3) (Entered: 07/11/2017)
2017-08-0431Memorandum in opposition to re 27 MOTION for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration, # 2 Exhibit Letter of Discretionary Release, # 3 Exhibit Amended Vaughn Index, # 4 Exhibit Redacted Materials)(Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 08/04/2017)
2017-08-0432REPLY to opposition to motion re 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion, and Statement of Material Facts filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration, # 2 Exhibit Letter of Discretionary Release, # 3 Exhibit Amended Vaughn Index, # 4 Exhibit Redacted Materials)(Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 08/04/2017)
2017-08-1833REPLY to opposition to motion re 27 MOTION for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 08/18/2017)
2017-09-15Case directly reassigned to Judge Timothy J. Kelly. Judge Rudolph Contreras is no longer assigned to the case. (ztnr) (Entered: 09/15/2017)
2018-09-1034MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part Defendant's 26 Motion for Summary Judgment and denying Plaintiff's 27 Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant's revised Vaughn submission, additional affidavits, and renewed motion for summary judgment due by October 22, 2018. Plaintiff's opposition to Defendant's renewed motion and renewed cross-motion for summary judgment due by November 19, 2018. Defendants opposition to Plaintiff's renewed cross-motion and reply in support of its renewed motion due by December 17, 2018. Plaintiff's reply in support of its renewed cross-motion due by December 31, 2018. See Opinion and Order for details. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Kelly on 9/10/2018. (inttjk2) (Entered: 09/10/2018)
2018-09-3035NOTICE of Change of Address by Cesar A. Lopez-Morales (Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 09/30/2018)
2018-10-1836Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment and to Modify Briefing Schedule by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 10/18/2018)
2018-10-18MINUTE ORDER granting Defendant's 36 Consent Motion for Extension of Time. It is hereby ORDERED that Defendant shall file its renewed motion for summary judgment, revised Vaughn index, and/or additional affidavits by October 25, 2018; Plaintiff shall file its opposition to Defendant's renewed motion and its renewed cross-motion for summary judgment by November 22, 2018; Defendant shall file its opposition to Plaintiff's renewed cross-motion and reply in support of its renewed motion by December 20, 2018; and Plaintiff shall file its reply in support of its renewed cross-motion by January 3, 2019. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Kelly on 10/18/2018. (lctjk1) (Entered: 10/18/2018)
2018-10-2537Second MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Declaration Third Declaration of Eric F. Stein and Revised Vaughn Submission, # 3 Exhibit 1 - Letter to Plaintiff, # 4 Exhibit 2- Document C06206248, # 5 Exhibit 3- Document C06189797, # 6 Exhibit 4- Document C06190112, # 7 Text of Proposed Order)(Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 10/25/2018)
2018-11-0938MOTION to Stay re 37 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 11/09/2018)
2018-11-1939Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to Submit Opposition to Defendant's Rnewed Motion for Summary Judgment and file Cross-Motion by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 11/19/2018)
2018-11-19MINUTE ORDER granting Plaintiff's 39 Consent Motion for Extension of Time. It is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff shall file its opposition to Defendant's 37 Second Motion for Summary Judgment and renewed cross-motion for summary judgment within 14 days of the Court's decision on Plaintiff's 38 Motion to Stay, unless the Court decides to stay summary judgment proceedings. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Kelly on 11/19/2018. (lctjk1) (Entered: 11/19/2018)
2018-11-2340RESPONSE re 38 MOTION to Stay re 37 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lopez-Morales, Cesar) (Entered: 11/23/2018)
2018-11-3041REPLY to opposition to motion re 38 MOTION to Stay re 37 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE. (Southerland, Abigail) (Entered: 11/30/2018)
2018-12-06MINUTE ORDER denying Plaintiff's 38 Motion to Stay. Upon review of the parties' submissions (ECF Nos. 38, 40, 41), the Court concludes in its discretion that a stay pending a decision by the D.C. Circuit in American Center for Law and Justice v. U.S. Department of Justice, Case No. 18-5309, is not warranted. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Kelly on 12/6/2018. (lctjk1) (Entered: 12/06/2018)
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