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Case TitleJUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2016cv02368
Date Filed2016-12-05
Date Closed2018-01-22
JudgeJudge Trevor N. McFadden
PlaintiffJUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
Case DescriptionJudicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning determinations made by the Office of Legal Counsel that emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were not official agency records. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, 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 STATE
AppealD.C. Circuit 18-5073
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Opinion/Order [22]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Trevor McFadden has ruled that the Department of State conducted an adequate search for records concerning its determination that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails between January and April 2009 would not be considered agency records. Judicial Watch submitted a request for a determination by State's legal office based on portions of an FBI Form 302 summarizing an interview conducted with a staffer at the Office of Information Programs and Services suggesting that State had made such a determination. The State Department searched IPS and the Office of Legal Adviser and found no records. Challenging the agency's search, Judicial Watch argued that "a reasonably calculated search in response to its request necessarily should have included asking the IPS interviewee whether the requested documents exist, and where they may be located." McFadden pointed out that "the State Department's searches were anything but rote: they were designed and executed in a manner reasonably expected to produce the information requested. In particular, the State Department was aware of the identity of the interviewee, and its searches included a search of the files and accounts of the interviewee." McFadden observed that Judicial Watch's suggestion of just asking the interviewee directly "would have placed the State Department in a quandary." Because Judicial Watch had narrowed the identity of the interviewee to three employees, one of whom no longer worked at State, "describing the efforts taken by the State Department would inevitably have either identified the interviewee or narrowed the list to two. FOIA does not require " and in fact expressly exempts " disclosure of the interviewee's identity, and this litigation should not be used as a back-door means of discerning the same." He concluded that "the search efforts undertaken by the State Department appropriately balanced the rights of Judicial Watch to obtain information with the right of the interviewee to remain anonymous. Nothing more is required."
Issues: Adequacy - Search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-12-051COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF STATE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4764596) filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons US Department of State, # 3 Summons US Attorney for DC, # 4 Summons US Attorney General)(Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 12/05/2016)
2016-12-052LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 12/05/2016)
2016-12-06Case Assigned to Judge Amit P. Mehta. (sb) (Entered: 12/06/2016)
2016-12-063SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Consent Form)(sb) (Entered: 12/06/2016)
2016-12-124RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 12/12/2016. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 1/11/2017.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 12/12/2016., RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE served on 12/12/2016 (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of C. Rotaru)(Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 12/12/2016)
2016-12-225NOTICE of Appearance by Martin Mason Tomlinson on behalf of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 12/22/2016)
2017-01-116ANSWER to Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE.(Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-117ORDER: Both a Complaint and an Answer are now before the court in this FOIA case. It is hereby ordered that the parties shall meet and confer and file a Joint Status Report on or before January 27, 2017. See the attached Order for additional details. Signed by Amit P. Mehta on 01/11/2017. (lcapm1) (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-278Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 01/27/2017)
2017-01-30MINUTE ORDER: The parties shall file a Joint Status Report on or before February 17, 2017, that addresses (1) the anticipated volume of documents potentially responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA request, and (2) a proposed schedule for the release of any responsive documents. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 01/30/2017. (lcapm1) (Entered: 01/30/2017)
2017-01-30Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 2/17/2017. (cdw) (Entered: 01/30/2017)
2017-02-179Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 02/17/2017)
2017-02-20MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' 9 February 17, 2017, Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before March 3, 2017. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 02/20/2017. (lcapm1) (Entered: 02/20/2017)
2017-02-20Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 3/3/2017. (cdw) (Entered: 02/22/2017)
2017-03-0310Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 03/03/2017)
2017-03-03MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' 10 3 March 17, 2017, Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before April 3, 2017. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 03/03/2017. (lcapm1) (Entered: 03/03/2017)
2017-03-03Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 4/3/2017. (cdw) (Entered: 03/07/2017)
2017-04-0311Joint STATUS REPORT and Motion to Enter Scheduling Order by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 04/03/2017)
2017-04-0312ORDER entering the briefing schedule proposed in the parties' 11 Joint Status Report. The schedule for further proceedings in this matter is as follows: (1) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before May 8, 2017; (2) Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion and any Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before June 5, 2017; (3) Defendant's Reply in Support of Summary Judgment and Opposition to any Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before July 3, 2017; and (4) Plaintiff's Reply in Support of any Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before July 18, 2017. See the attached Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 04/03/2017. (lcapm1) (Entered: 04/03/2017)
2017-04-03Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendants Summary Judgment motion due by 5/8/2017. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 6/5/2017. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 7/3/2017. Plaintiffs Cross Motion due by 6/5/2017. Response to Cross Motion due by 7/3/2017. Reply to Cross Motion due by 7/18/2017. (cdw) (Entered: 04/04/2017)
2017-05-0813MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 05/08/2017)
2017-05-0814MEMORANDUM re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit FOIA Request, # 2 Exhibit Letter in Response to Request, # 3 Exhibit Search Declaration)(Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 05/08/2017)
2017-05-1515Memorandum in opposition to re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 05/15/2017)
2017-05-1516Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 05/15/2017)
2017-07-0317REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment </i filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Second Declaration of Eric F. Stein)(Tomlinson, Martin) Modified linkage on 7/5/2017 (td). (Entered: 07/03/2017)
2017-07-0318Memorandum in opposition to re 16 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE; (See docket entry no. 17 to view document.) (td) (Entered: 07/05/2017)
2017-07-05NOTICE OF ERROR re 17 Reply to opposition to Motion; emailed to martin.m.tomlinson@usdoj.gov, cc'd 2 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Do not refile. In the future, please remember to separately file all parts of your document(s). (ztd, ) (Entered: 07/05/2017)
2017-07-1019REPLY to opposition to motion re 16 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 07/10/2017)
2017-08-1820NOTICE of the Government's Conflicting Legal Positions by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 08/18/2017)
2017-09-1121RESPONSE re 20 Notice (Other) filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE. (Tomlinson, Martin) (Entered: 09/11/2017)
2017-11-02Case directly reassigned to Judge Trevor N. McFadden. Judge Amit P. Mehta is no longer assigned to the case. (ztnr) (Entered: 11/02/2017)
2018-01-1922MEMORANDUM OPINION re Defendant's 13 Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's 16 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 1/19/2018. (lctnm3) (Entered: 01/19/2018)
2018-01-1923ORDER. For the reasons stated in 22 Memorandum Opinion, the Defendant's 13 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and the Plaintiff's 16 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED. This is a final, appealable Order. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 1/19/2018. (lctnm3) (Entered: 01/19/2018)
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