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Case TitleThe New York Times Company et al v. U.S.Secret Service
DistrictSouthern District of New York
CityFoley Square
Case Number1:2017cv01885
Date Filed2017-03-15
Date Closed2018-02-06
JudgeJudge Paul A. Crotty
PlaintiffThe New York Times Company
PlaintiffJeremy Merrill
Case DescriptionNew York Times reporter Jeremy Merrill submitted three FOIA requests to the Secret Service for records concerning reimbursements made to the Trump and Clinton campaigns for airfare for Secret Service agents providing protection to the candidates. The Secret Service responded to Merrill's first request concerning the Trump campaign, but withheld some information under Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). Merrill filed an administrative appeal challenging the use of Exemption 7(E). After hearing nothing further from the agency concerning his administrative appeal or his other two requests, the New York Times filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantU.S. Secret Service
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Opinion/Order [28]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in New York has ruled that the Secret Service properly withheld details concerning its air transportation costs for providing protection to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential campaign under Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques) and Exemption 7(F) (harm to any person) in response to four requests from New York Times reporter Jeremy Merrill. The agency provided the total costs per trip, but redacted information disclosing the total number of passengers, the total number of Secret Service passengers, the total cost of each leg, and the cost per passenger on each flight. The New York Times argued that disclosure of staffing on 2016 flights was not predictive of staffing guidelines for the 2020 Presidential campaign nor staffing guidelines outside the campaign context and, as a result "would not divulge anything about the staffing of protective details on future flights." The court accepted an in camera affidavit filed by the agency, but indicated that "this opinion analyzes only the public declaration," adding that "the analysis of the in camera declaration is provided in an appendix to this opinion, which is filed under seal in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York." Judge Paul Crotty began by indicating that the term "guidelines" as used in Exemption 7(E) "provide guidance for future conduct. Guidelines cannot merely be a recitation of something that has already happened." The agency argued that disclosure of staffing information from the 2016 would allow adversaries to infer the staffing needs more generally. Crotty pointed out that "the redacted information, when extrapolated, enable a person to predict the number of agents assigned to protective details in similar flight operations, and hence, the Service's protective means and methods. These protective means and methods are not merely a recitation of what has already happened; they provide guidance on the Service's future operations. They are exactly the type of 'guidelines' on resource allocation that Exemption 7(E) is designed to protect." He noted that "the redacted information would expose a portion of the Service's protective means and methods used under similar circumstances. After all, the number of agents assigned to protective details is one part of the Service's protective operational means and methods. It may not reveal the protective methods in their entirety. But Exemption 7(E) does not require that. As long as withheld information would reveal an aspect of a resource allocation scheme. . .Exemption 7(E) applies." Crotty then found the agency had shown a risk of circumvention of law if the information was disclosed. He explained that "the number of agents assigned to a 2016 campaign flight would enable an adversary to estimate the number of agents that would be staffed on future flights." In ACLU v. Dept of Defense, 543 F.3d 59 (2d Cir. 2008), the Second Circuit rejected the government's contention that Exemption 7(F) could be applied to all U.S. troops as well as Iraqi and Afghani citizens, but had recognized that the exemption could apply if a discrete group was sufficiently identified. Crotty found that standard had been met here to include certain government officials and Secret Service agents. He pointed out that "this risk of danger is reasonably specific to the Identified Group. . .Here, Secret Service protectees are high priority targets of organizations and foreign powers, as well as terrorist organizations." He noted that "accordingly, the Court finds that the Service has identified 'any individual' with reasonable specificity; and established that the disclosure of redacted information could reasonably be expected to endanger the Identified Group."
Issues: Exemption 7(E) - Investigative methods or techniques, Exemption 7(F) - Harm to safety of any person
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2017-03-151COMPLAINT against United States Secret Service. (Filing Fee $ 400.00, Receipt Number 0208-13422119)Document filed by The New York Times Company, Jeremy Merrill.(McCraw, David) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-152CIVIL COVER SHEET filed. (McCraw, David) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-153RULE 7.1 CORPORATE DISCLOSURE STATEMENT. Identifying Other Affiliate Grupo Finaciero Inbursa, S.A.B. de C.V. for The New York Times Company. Document filed by The New York Times Company.(McCraw, David) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-154REQUEST FOR ISSUANCE OF SUMMONS as to U.S. Secret Service, re: 1 Complaint. Document filed by Jeremy Merrill, The New York Times Company. (McCraw, David) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-155NOTICE OF APPEARANCE by Ian MacDougall on behalf of Jeremy Merrill, The New York Times Company. (MacDougall, Ian) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-16CASE OPENING INITIAL ASSIGNMENT NOTICE: The above-entitled action is assigned to Judge Paul A. Crotty. Please download and review the Individual Practices of the assigned District Judge, located at http://nysd.uscourts.gov/judges/District . Attorneys are responsible for providing courtesy copies to judges where their Individual Practices require such. Please download and review the ECF Rules and Instructions, located at http://nysd.uscourts.gov/ecf_filing.php . (laq) (Entered: 03/16/2017)
2017-03-16Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox is so designated. (laq) (Entered: 03/16/2017)
2017-03-16Case Designated ECF. (laq) (Entered: 03/16/2017)
2017-03-226ELECTRONIC SUMMONS ISSUED as to U.S. Secret Service. (pc) (Entered: 03/22/2017)
2017-04-077NOTICE OF APPEARANCE by Natasha Waglow Teleanu on behalf of U.S. Secret Service. (Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 04/07/2017)
2017-04-188LETTER MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer addressed to Judge Paul A. Crotty from Natasha W. Teleanu dated 4/18/2017. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service.(Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 04/18/2017)
2017-04-199ORDER granting 8 Letter Motion for Extension of Time to Answer. U.S. Secret Service answer due 5/1/2017. ENDORSEMENT: Request granted. SO ORDERED. (HEREBY ORDERED by Judge Paul A. Crotty)(Text Only Order) (Crotty, Paul) (Entered: 04/20/2017)
2017-05-0110ANSWER to 1 Complaint. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service.(Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 05/01/2017)
2017-05-0511ORDER FOR INITIAL PRETRIAL CONFERENCE: Initial Conference set for 6/1/2017 at 04:00 PM in Courtroom 14C, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Paul A. Crotty. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Crotty on 5/5/2017) (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(dgo) (Entered: 05/05/2017)
2017-05-3012JOINT LETTER addressed to Judge Paul A. Crotty from Natasha W. Teleanu dated 5/30/2017 re: Initial Conference. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service.(Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 05/30/2017)
2017-05-3113MEMO ENDORSEMENT on re: 12 Letter requesting a pre-trial conference, filed by U.S. Secret Service. ENDORSEMENT: There is no need for a pretrial conference. The Court adopts the schedule proposed in paragraph 5 for the filing of cross motions., (Cross Motions due by 7/28/2017., Motions due by 6/30/2017., Responses due by 8/11/2017, Replies due by 8/25/2017.) (Signed by Judge Paul A. Crotty on 5/31/17) (yv) Modified on 6/1/2017 (dgo). (Entered: 05/31/2017)
2017-06-3014MOTION for Summary Judgment . Document filed by U.S. Secret Service.(Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 06/30/2017)
2017-06-3015MEMORANDUM OF LAW in Support re: 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment . . Document filed by U.S. Secret Service. (Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 06/30/2017)
2017-06-3016DECLARATION of Robert P. Buster in Support re: 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment .. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service. (Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 06/30/2017)
2017-06-3017DECLARATION of Kim E. Campbell in Support re: 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment .. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit C, # 4 Exhibit D, # 5 Exhibit E, # 6 Exhibit F, # 7 Exhibit G, # 8 Exhibit H (1 of 3), # 9 Exhibit H (2 of 3), # 10 Exhibit H (3 of 3), # 11 Exhibit I (1 of 2), # 12 Exhibit I (2 of 2), # 13 Exhibit J (1 of 17), # 14 Exhibit J (2 of 17), # 15 Exhibit J (3 of 17), # 16 Exhibit J (4 of 17), # 17 Exhibit J (5 of 17), # 18 Exhibit J (6 of 17), # 19 Exhibit J (7 of 17), # 20 Exhibit J (8 of 17), # 21 Exhibit J (9 of 17), # 22 Exhibit J (10 of 17), # 23 Exhibit J (11 of 17), # 24 Exhibit J (12 of 17), # 25 Exhibit J (13 of 17), # 26 Exhibit J (14 of 17), # 27 Exhibit J (15 of 17), # 28 Exhibit J (16 of 17), # 29 Exhibit J (17 of 17), # 30 Exhibit K, # 31 Exhibit L)(Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 06/30/2017)
2017-07-2818CROSS MOTION for Summary Judgment . Document filed by Jeremy Merrill, The New York Times Company.(McCraw, David) (Entered: 07/28/2017)
2017-07-2819MEMORANDUM OF LAW in Support re: 18 CROSS MOTION for Summary Judgment . . Document filed by Jeremy Merrill, The New York Times Company. (McCraw, David) (Entered: 07/28/2017)
2017-07-2820DECLARATION of David E. McCraw in Support re: 18 CROSS MOTION for Summary Judgment .. Document filed by Jeremy Merrill, The New York Times Company. (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 Exhibit 10, # 11 Exhibit 11, # 12 Exhibit 12, # 13 Exhibit 13, # 14 Exhibit 14, # 15 Exhibit 15)(McCraw, David) (Entered: 07/28/2017)
2017-08-0921LETTER MOTION for Leave to File Declaration in camera and ex parte addressed to Judge Paul A. Crotty from Natasha W. Teleanu dated 8/9/2017. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service.(Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 08/09/2017)
2017-08-0922ORDER granting 21 Letter Motion for Leave to File Document. ENDORSEMENT: The request is granted. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Crotty on 8/9/2017) (dgo) (Entered: 08/09/2017)
2017-08-1123REPLY MEMORANDUM OF LAW in Support re: 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment . and Opposition to Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment . Document filed by U.S. Secret Service. (Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 08/11/2017)
2017-08-1124DECLARATION of Robert P. Buster in Support re: 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment .. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service. (Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 08/11/2017)
2017-08-1125NOTICE of Lodging of Ex Parte In Camera Declaration re: 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment .. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service. (Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 08/11/2017)
2017-08-2526REPLY MEMORANDUM OF LAW in Support re: 18 CROSS MOTION for Summary Judgment . . Document filed by Jeremy Merrill, The New York Times Company. (McCraw, David) (Entered: 08/25/2017)
2017-10-0627MEMO ENDORSEMENT on NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF COUNSEL, ENDORSEMENT: So Ordered. (Attorney Ian MacDougall terminated.) (Signed by Judge Paul A. Crotty on 10/6/17) (yv) (Entered: 10/06/2017)
2018-02-0528MEMORANDUM AND OPINION re: 18 CROSS MOTION for Summary Judgment . filed by The New York Times Company, Jeremy Merrill, 14 MOTION for Summary Judgment . filed by U.S. Secret Service. The Service's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED; NYT's cross-motion for summary judgment is DENIED; and NYT's request for attorneys' fees and costs is DENIED. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close all pending motions and terminate the action. So Ordered. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Crotty on 2/5/18) (yv) (Entered: 02/05/2018)
2018-02-05Transmission to Judgments and Orders Clerk. Transmitted re: 28 Memorandum & Opinion, to the Judgments and Orders Clerk. (yv) (Entered: 02/05/2018)
2018-02-0529SEALED DOCUMENT placed in vault.(mps) (Entered: 02/05/2018)
2018-02-0630CLERK'S JUDGMENT re: 28 Opinion & Order. It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED: That for the reasons stated in the Court's Opinion & Order dated February 5, 2018, the Service's motion for summary judgment is granted; NYT's cross-motion for summary judgment is denied; and NYT's request for attorneys' fees and costs is denied; accordingly, the case is closed. (Signed by Clerk of Court Ruby Krajick on 2/6/2018) (Attachments: # 1 Right to Appeal)(tro) (Entered: 02/06/2018)
2018-02-0631LETTER MOTION to Seal Document requesting entry of an order authorizing this Office to examine and make a copy of the sealed appendix addressed to Judge Paul A. Crotty from Natasha W. Teleanu dated 2/6/2018. Document filed by U.S. Secret Service.(Teleanu, Natasha) (Entered: 02/06/2018)
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by FOIA Project Staff