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Case TitleTOKAR v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2016cv02410
Date Filed2016-12-08
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Rudolph Contreras
PlaintiffDYLAN TOKAR
Case DescriptionDylan Tokar, a reporter at "Just Anti-Corruption," a trade publication for attorneys, submitted two FOIA requests to the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. His first request was for records concerning the selection of monitors under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. His second request was for letters from potential defendants objecting to the release of the records requested in his first FOIA request. After hearing nothing further from the agency concerning his requests, Tokar filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Public Interest Fee Waiver, Fee Category - Media or Educational, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantU.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Complaint attachment 6
Complaint attachment 7
Complaint attachment 8
Complaint attachment 9
Complaint attachment 10
Complaint attachment 11
Complaint attachment 12
Complaint attachment 13
Opinion/Order [18]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Rudolph Contreras has ruled that the Department of Justice failed to justify redactions made under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records) concerning the selection of corporate compliance monitors for 15 corporations that settled charges brought for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act through deferred prosecution agreements, but that its redaction under Exemption 4 (confidential business information) was appropriate. Dylan Tokar, a reporter for the publication Just Anti-Corruption, requested the records. The agency provided pre-disclosure notifications to the corporations and Tokar submitted a second FOIA request for any objection letters filed by the corporations. After Tokar filed suit, the agency provided him with a table containing the information responsive to his first request and copies of letters he sought through the second request with redactions made under Exemption 6, Exemption 7(C) and Exemption 4. Because Tokar had narrowed his first request in an attempt to avoid processing delays, which resulted in DOJ compiling a table, the agency argued that Tokar had impermissibly requested information rather than records. Contreras sided with Tokar, noting that "if DOJ could not reasonably interpret from Mr. Tokar's narrowed request what types of records or information he was seeking, it had a duty to confer with Mr. Tokar to clear up any confusion. In order to save the agency some time and provide Mr. Tokar the requested information in a more user-friendly format, the agency certainly could have reached an agreement with Mr. Tokar regarding his acceptance of the chart in lieu of the requested documents. But the record does not reflect that such an agreement was reached and the agency cannot unilaterally reinterpret the request in this fashion." DOJ continued to withhold identifying information about individuals who were nominated but not selected, as well as their firms if they were small, under Exemptions 6 and 7(C). Contreras agreed that there was a de minimis privacy interest in the information. He pointed out that although "this could be a situation in which it is an honor just be nominated for this role," he observed that "it is plausible that these individuals would prefer to have their consideration and ultimately non-selection withheld from the public's view." Tokar identified a public interest in "evaluating who was nominated to be a monitor and who the agency did not ultimately choose, he will be able to learn about the inner workings of the selection process which is now cloaked in secrecy, outside of the supervision of any courts." Contreras indicated that "because Mr. Tokar has demonstrated that the release of even this small amount of information will serve the public interest, to an extent that outweighs the candidates for those lucrative positions' interest in keeping their identities secret, the Court finds the unselected candidates' names cannot be properly withheld pursuant to Exemption 6." He rejected the application of Exemption 7(C) as well, pointing out that "here, because the type of stigma or harassment that traditionally triggers protection under Exemption 7(C) is not present, as evidenced by the fact that DOJ freely released the names of those candidates who were selected to be compliance monitors, . . .the privacy interests are much weaker than in a traditional Exemption 7(C) case." Contreras ordered the agency to disclose the identities of DOJ attorneys and corporate attorneys involved in the cases since the agency had failed to articulate any real privacy interest in non-disclosure. Although Tokar had not challenged the redactions under Exemption 4, Contreras agreed with DOJ's position that the information was "commercial" for purposes of Exemption 4, explaining that case law in the D.C. Circuit had concluded that "information about 'the way companies implement their compliance programs' is 'sufficiently "instrumental" to the companies' operations to qualify as 'commercial.'"
Issues: Exemption 6 - Invasion of privacy, Exemption 7(C) - Invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records, Exemption 4 - Confidential business information
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-12-091COMPLAINT against All Defendants (Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4769558) filed by DYLAN TOKAR. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4, # 5 Exhibit 5, # 6 Exhibit 6, # 7 Exhibit 7, # 8 Exhibit 8, # 9 Exhibit 9, # 10 Civil Cover Sheet Civil Cover Sheet, # 11 Summons U.S. Attorney, # 12 Summons U.S. Attorney General, # 13 Summons Department of Justice)(Wheeler, John) (Entered: 12/09/2016)
2016-12-09Case Assigned to Judge Rudolph Contreras. (sb) (Entered: 12/09/2016)
2016-12-092SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Consent Form)(sb) (Entered: 12/09/2016)
2017-01-043NOTICE of Appearance by Bruce D. Brown on behalf of DYLAN TOKAR (Brown, Bruce) (Entered: 01/04/2017)
2017-01-244NOTICE of Appearance by Jeremy S. Simon on behalf of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 01/24/2017)
2017-01-255Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to Answer or Otherwise Respond to Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 01/25/2017)
2017-01-25MINUTE ORDER granting 5 Consent Motion for Extension of Time: It is hereby ORDERED that Defendant shall file its response to the complaint on or before February 28, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 1/25/2017. (lcrc1) (Entered: 01/25/2017)
2017-02-286ANSWER to Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 02/28/2017)
2017-02-28MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a proposed briefing schedule on or before March 14, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 2/28/2017. (lcrc1) (Entered: 02/28/2017)
2017-03-147Joint STATUS REPORT and Proposed Schedule by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 03/14/2017)
2017-03-14MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 7 Joint Status Report and Proposed Schedule, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties meet, confer, and submit a joint status report on or before May 31, 2017. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 3/14/2017. (lcrc1) (Entered: 03/14/2017)
2017-03-14Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 5/31/2017 (tj) (Entered: 03/14/2017)
2017-05-318Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 05/31/2017)
2017-05-31SCHEDULING MINUTE ORDER adopting 8 Status Report and Proposed Schedule: It is hereby ORDERED that Defendant shall file its motion for summary judgment on or before July 19, 2017; Plaintiff shall file any cross-motion and opposition on or before August 23, 2017; Defendant shall file any opposition and reply on or before September 13, 2017; and Plaintiff shall file any reply on or before October 4, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 5/31/2017. (lcrc1) (Entered: 05/31/2017)
2017-06-01Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Summary Judgment motions due by 7/19/2017. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 8/23/2017. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 9/13/2017. Plaintiff's Reply due by 10/4/2017 (hs) (Entered: 06/01/2017)
2017-07-199MOTION for Summary Judgment , Local Rule 7(h) Statement, and Supporting Memorandum by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Declaration of Peter C. Sprung)(Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 07/19/2017)
2017-08-2310MOTION for Summary Judgment by DYLAN TOKAR (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, # 2 Statement of Facts and Response to Defendant's Statement of Facts, # 3 Declaration of Dylan Tokar, # 4 Exhibit A to the Tokar Declaration, # 5 Exhibit B to the Tokar Declaration, # 6 Exhibit C to the Tokar Declaration, # 7 Exhibit D to the Tokar Declaration, # 8 Exhibit E to the Tokar Declaration, # 9 Exhibit F to the Tokar Declaration, # 10 Exhibit G to the Tokar Declaration, # 11 Exhibit H to the Tokar Declaration, # 12 Exhibit I to the Tokar Declaration, # 13 Exhibit J to the Tokar Declaration, # 14 Exhibit K to the Tokar Declaration, # 15 Exhibit L to the Tokar Declaration, # 16 Exhibit M to the Tokar Declaration, # 17 Exhibit N to the Tokar Declaration, # 18 Exhibit O to the Tokar Declaration, # 19 Text of Proposed Order, # 20 Certificate of Service)(Brown, Bruce) (Entered: 08/23/2017)
2017-08-2311Memorandum in opposition to re 9 MOTION for Summary Judgment , Local Rule 7(h) Statement, and Supporting Memorandum filed by DYLAN TOKAR. (See Docket Entry 10 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 08/24/2017)
2017-09-1112Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Reply and Opposition and to Adjust Remaining Deadlines in Briefing Schedule by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 09/11/2017)
2017-09-11MINUTE ORDER granting 12 Defendant's Consent Motion for Extension of Time: It is hereby ORDERED that Defendant shall file its reply in support of its motion for summary judgment and its opposition to Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment on or before September 27, 2017. It is further ORDERED that Plaintiff shall file its reply to Defendant's opposition to Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment on or before October 25, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 09/11/2017. (lcrc1) (Entered: 09/11/2017)
2017-09-2713Memorandum in opposition to re 10 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Response to Plaintiff's Local Rule 7(h) Statement, # 2 Second Declaration of Peter Sprung, # 3 Proposed Order)(Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 09/27/2017)
2017-09-2714REPLY to opposition to motion re 9 MOTION for Summary Judgment , Local Rule 7(h) Statement, and Supporting Memorandum (duplicate of docket entry number 13) filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Response to Plaintiff's Local Rule 7(h) Statement, # 2 Second Declaration of Peter Sprung, # 3 Proposed Order)(Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 09/27/2017)
2017-10-2515REPLY to opposition to motion re 10 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DYLAN TOKAR. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Dylan Tokar (Supplemental), # 2 Exhibit P to Supplemental Tokar Declaration, # 3 Exhibit Q to Supplemental Tokar Declaration, # 4 Exhibit R to Supplemental Tokar Declaration, # 5 Exhibit S to Supplemental Tokar Declaration, # 6 Exhibit T to Supplemental Tokar Declaration, # 7 Certificate of Service)(Brown, Bruce) (Entered: 10/25/2017)
2018-01-1716NOTICE of Appearance by Jennifer Anne Nelson on behalf of DYLAN TOKAR (Nelson, Jennifer) (Entered: 01/17/2018)
2018-03-2917ORDER granting in part and denying in part 9 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 10 Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. See document for details. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 03/29/2018. (lcrc1) (Entered: 03/29/2018)
2018-03-2918MEMORANDUM OPINION granting in part and denying in part 9 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 10 Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. See document for details. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 03/29/2018. (lcrc1) (Entered: 03/29/2018)
2018-03-29MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that, by April 13, 2018, the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a proposed schedule to govern further proceedings. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 03/29/2018. (lcrc1) (Entered: 03/29/2018)
2018-03-30Set/Reset Deadlines: Proposed Schedule due by 4/13/2018 (tj) (Entered: 03/30/2018)
2018-04-0519Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs by DYLAN TOKAR (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Brown, Bruce) (Entered: 04/05/2018)
2018-04-05MINUTE ORDER denying as premature 19 Plaintiff's Consent Motion for Extension of Time: Because judgment has not yet been entered in this case, there is not yet a deadline for Plaintiff to move for the awarding of costs and attorneys' fees. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time to file his motion for fees is DENIED AS PREMATURE. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 04/05/2018. (lcrc1) (Entered: 04/05/2018)
2018-04-1320Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 04/13/2018)
2018-04-13MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 20 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before June 14, 2018. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 04/13/2018. (lcrc1) (Entered: 04/13/2018)
2018-04-13Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 6/14/2018 (tj) (Entered: 04/13/2018)
2018-06-1421Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Simon, Jeremy) (Entered: 06/14/2018)
2018-06-14MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 21 the parties' Joint Status Report and Proposed Schedule, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall submit a further joint status report on or before July 30, 2018. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 06/14/2018. (lcrc1) (Entered: 06/14/2018)
2018-06-15Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 7/30/2018 (tj) (Entered: 06/15/2018)
2018-07-3022Joint STATUS REPORT by DYLAN TOKAR. (Nelson, Jennifer) (Entered: 07/30/2018)
2018-07-30MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 22 the parties' Joint Status Report and Proposed Schedule, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before October 2, 2018. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 07/30/2018. (lcrc1) (Entered: 07/30/2018)
2018-07-31Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 10/2/2018 (hs) (Entered: 07/31/2018)
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