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Case TitleJohnson v. CIA
DistrictDistrict of Massachusetts
CityBoston
Case Number1:2017cv10789
Date Filed2017-05-04
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeMagistrate Judge Judith G. Dein
PlaintiffAMANDA JOHNSON
Case DescriptionAmanda Johnson, a doctoral student at MIT, submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for records concerning the development and operation of the agency's Twitter account. The agency acknowledged receipt of her request. Johnson contacted the agency on several occasions and was told her request was being processed. Although the agency told her it still had not completed her request, the CIA's annual FOIA report seemed to indicate the agency had processed more than 1,000 requests received after hers. She then filed suit.
Complaint issues: Litigation - Attorney's fees, Failure to respond within statutory time limit

DefendantCentral Intelligence Agency
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Complaint attachment 6
Opinion/Order [52]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in Massachusetts has ruled that the CIA failed to conduct an adequate search for records concerning the agency's use of Twitter and that while the agency properly invoked Exemption 3 (other statutes), it failed to support its Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) claims. Amanda Johnson, a Ph. D student at MIT, submitted a three-part request for records pertaining to the agency's use of Twitter. The agency searched its Office of Public Affairs and disclosed 18 records with redactions. Johnson argued that searching only OPA was too limited because the disclosed documents indicated that other components, such as the Office of General Counsel, the Chief Information Officer, the Web Council, and the Publications Review Board, were involved as well. Agreeing with Johnson, the court noted that "Dr. Johnson is not merely speculating about the existence of responsive documents outside of OPA, she has reliable evidence that their existence is likely. In light of these references, it was unreasonable for the Agency to draw the conclusion, without providing more of an explanation, that OPA would be 'the only Agency office reasonably likely to possess records responsive to Plaintiff's request.'" The court added that "the mention of PRB and other offices in the produced documents are leads sufficient to require the Agency to expand the scope of its search." The agency had refused to search for a list of user applications associated with the agency's public Twitter account because to do so would require the agency to create a record. Again, the court disagreed. The court pointed out that "the list sought by Dr. Johnson in the third request already exists and must be produced. She is not asking the Agency to create a list of user applications, but rather seeks the currently existing list of user applications available on Twitter's website. As evidenced by [the agency declaration], the record sought is a list, accessible to the Agency, already maintained on the Agency's Twitter account. The record exists with regard to all Twitter accounts and would not be created specifically for purposes of the Agency's FOIA response." The court found although the list was on Twitter's website the agency had sufficient control over the document. The court indicated that "the Agency can manipulate its applications list by revoking access to certain applications and connecting to others. The makeup of this list is controlled by the Agency's own decisions with regard to its Twitter account. This shows that Twitter significantly relinquished control over this page to the Agency. Even if not hosted within the Agency's records system, the Agency has enough ability to manipulate and use the record so that the list constitutes an Agency-controlled record for FOIA purposes." The court found that the agency's redactions under the National Security Act and the CIA Act were appropriate under Exemption 3. As to its claim that certain information was protected under the deliberative process privilege, the court pointed out that "the Agency misapplies the privilege. As the Agency describes, the information withheld is part of an Agency document used to aid employees in making decisions related to the Twitter account. Although it may aid the deliberative process, the document itself is not deliberative." The court concluded that names and addresses of CIA and Twitter employees contained in emails did not qualify for Exemption 6. The court observed that "the 'emails can in no way be construed as similar to personnel or medical files' so the Exemption cannot be invoked. Rather, the emails are 'mundane interoffice communications [and] do not contain any detailed personal information.'"
Issues: Agency Record - Constructive possession, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Predecisional, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Deliberative
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2017-05-041COMPLAINT against All Defendants Filing fee: $ 400, receipt number 0101-6613041 (Fee Status: Filing Fee paid), filed by AMANDA JOHNSON. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit Exhibit C, # 4 Exhibit Exhibit D, # 5 Civil Cover Sheet Civil Cover Sheet, # 6 Civil Cover Sheet Category Form)(Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 05/04/2017)
2017-05-042ELECTRONIC NOTICE of Case Assignment. Judge George A. OToole, Jr assigned to case. If the trial Judge issues an Order of Reference of any matter in this case to a Magistrate Judge, the matter will be transmitted to Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein. (Abaid, Kimberly) (Entered: 05/04/2017)
2017-05-043Summons Issued as to Central Intelligence Agency. Counsel receiving this notice electronically should download this summons, complete one for each defendant and serve it in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 4 and LR 4.1. Summons will be mailed to plaintiff(s) not receiving notice electronically for completion of service. (Abaid, Kimberly) (Entered: 05/04/2017)
2017-05-244AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE Executed by AMANDA JOHNSON. Central Intelligence Agency served on 5/24/2017, answer due 6/14/2017. Acknowledgement filed by AMANDA JOHNSON. (Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 05/24/2017)
2017-05-305NOTICE of Appearance by Anita Johnson on behalf of Central Intelligence Agency (Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 05/30/2017)
2017-06-236Assented to MOTION for Extension of Time to 7/24/2017 to File Answer by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 06/23/2017)
2017-06-277Judge George A. O'Toole, Jr: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 6 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer re 1 Complaint, Central Intelligence Agency answer due 7/24/2017. (Halley, Taylor) (Entered: 06/27/2017)
2017-07-218ANSWER to Complaint by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 07/21/2017)
2017-08-019NOTICE of Scheduling Conference Scheduling Conference set for 9/18/2017 02:00 PM in Courtroom 22 before Judge George A. OToole Jr.. Please mark your calendars accordingly.(Lyness, Paul) (Entered: 08/01/2017)
2017-08-2910Proposed Document(s) submitted by Central Intelligence Agency. Document received: Proposed Schedule of the Case. (Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 08/29/2017)
2017-09-1311CONSENT by all parties to Jurisdiction by US Magistrate Judge by AMANDA JOHNSON.. (Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 09/13/2017)
2017-09-1412ELECTRONIC NOTICE of Case Reassignment. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein assigned to case. (adminn, ) (Entered: 09/14/2017)
2017-09-1513NOTICE RESETTING HEARING. The Scheduling Conference scheduled for 9/18/2017 is reset for 02:30 PM in Courtroom 15 before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 09/15/2017)
2017-09-1814Electronic Clerk's Notes for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: Scheduling Conference held on 9/18/2017. case called; Counsel report case type and scope of discovery required. USMJ Dein sets 11/3/17 for joint status report due. (Court Reporter: Digital Recording.) To order a copy of this Digital Recording, please go to http://www.mad.uscourts.gov/attorneys/Magistrate-Audio.htm . For a transcript of this proceeding, contact Deborah Scalfani by email at deborah_scalfani@mad.uscourts.gov.(Attorneys present: Sellars and Johnson) (Quinn, Thomas) (Entered: 09/18/2017)
2017-09-1915Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ORDER entered. SCHEDULING ORDER: The parties shall file a joint status report by 11/3/17. Should the parties require a pleading schedule, they shall propose one in the joint status report due 11/3/17. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 09/19/2017)
2017-10-0616Joint MOTION to Modify Scheduling Order by AMANDA JOHNSON.(Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 10/06/2017)
2017-10-1017Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 16 Joint Motion to Modify Scheduling Order. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 10/10/2017)
2017-10-1018Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ORDER entered. SCHEDULING ORDER: As agreed, Defendant will respond to Plaintiff's FOIA request, delivering all responsive records by October 20, 2017, at 5pm EDT. If Defendant denies production of any responsive documents, Defendant will at that time include a cover letter or declaration to identify the number of documents denied and the applicable exemptions. Defendant will mark redactions in produced documents with the FOIA exemption number that Defendant regards as applicable. The parties shall file a joint status report by 11/3/17. Should the parties require a pleading schedule, they shall propose one in the joint status report due 11/3/17. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 10/10/2017)
2017-11-0219STATUS REPORT (Joint) by AMANDA JOHNSON. (Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 11/02/2017)
2017-11-0720Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered. Having reviewed the parties' Joint Status Report (Docket No. 19), it is hereby ORDERED as follows. This case will proceed by way of summary judgment motions. The defendant is cautioned, however, that detailed affidavits will be required, including affidavits that squarely address plaintiff's claims that the agency possesses the information sought and that the search was inadequate. See Hall v. CIA, __ F.3d __, No. 04-cv-814, 2017 WL 3328149, at *9 (D.D.C. Aug. 9, 2017); Moffat v. DOJ, No. 09-cv-12067-DJC, 2011 WL 3475440, at *6 (D. Mass. Aug. 5, 2011). The defendant shall file its motion for summary judgment by January 15, 2018. The plaintiff shall file her pleading by February 15, 2018. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 11/07/2017)
2018-01-1121Assented to MOTION for Extension of Time to 1/23/2018 to File motion for summary judgment by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 01/11/2018)
2018-01-1222Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 21 Motion for Extension of Time to File. Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be filed by January 23, 2018. (Dein, Judith) (Entered: 01/12/2018)
2018-01-2323MOTION for Summary Judgment by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 01/23/2018)
2018-01-2324MEMORANDUM in Support re 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Central Intelligence Agency. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit)(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 01/23/2018)
2018-02-0725Assented to MOTION for Extension of Time to 2/23/2018 to File Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment by AMANDA JOHNSON.(Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 02/07/2018)
2018-02-0826Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 25 Plaintiff's Assented to Motion for Extension of Time to 2/23/18 to respond to 23 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 02/08/2018)
2018-02-2327Opposition re 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by AMANDA JOHNSON. (Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 02/23/2018)
2018-02-2328MEMORANDUM in Opposition re 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by AMANDA JOHNSON. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Andrew F. Sellars, # 2 Exhibit Ex. A, # 3 Exhibit Ex. B, # 4 Exhibit Ex. C, # 5 Exhibit Ex. D, # 6 Exhibit Ex. E, # 7 Exhibit Ex. F, # 8 Exhibit Ex. G, # 9 Exhibit Ex. H, # 10 Exhibit Ex. I, # 11 Exhibit Ex. J, # 12 Exhibit Ex. K, # 13 Exhibit Ex. L, # 14 Exhibit Ex. M, # 15 Exhibit Ex. N, # 16 Exhibit Ex. O, # 17 Exhibit Ex. P, # 18 Exhibit Ex. Q)(Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 02/23/2018)
2018-02-2629ELECTRONIC NOTICE issued requesting courtesy copy of 28 Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment. Counsel who filed this document is requested to submit a courtesy copy to Magistrate Judge Dein by 3/5/18. The document must be clearly marked as a Courtesy Copy, reflect the document number assigned by CM/ECF, and the exhibits must be tabbed. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 02/26/2018)
2018-03-0230ELECTRONIC NOTICE SETTING HEARING on 23 Defendant's MOTION for Summary Judgment: Motion Hearing set for 3/19/2018 03:00 PM in Courtroom 15 before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 03/02/2018)
2018-03-0531Assented to MOTION for Extension of Time to 4/23/2018 to File Response/Reply as to 28 Memorandum in Opposition to Motion,, by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 03/05/2018)
2018-03-0532Assented to MOTION for Extension of Time to 3/23/2018 to File Response/Reply as to 28 Memorandum in Opposition to Motion,, Corrected by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 03/05/2018)
2018-03-0933Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered finding as moot 31 Defendant's Motion for Extension of Time, and granting 32 Defendant's Corrected Motion for Extension of Time to 3/23/18 to File Reply re 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 03/09/2018)
2018-03-0934ELECTRONIC NOTICE RESETTING HEARING on 23 Defendant's MOTION for Summary Judgment: Motion Hearing reset for 4/11/2018 03:00 PM in Courtroom 15 before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 03/09/2018)
2018-03-2235Assented to MOTION for Extension of Time to 3/27/2018 to File Response/Reply by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 03/22/2018)
2018-03-2336Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 35 Defendant's Assented to Motion for Extension of Time to 3/27/18 to File Reply re 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 03/23/2018)
2018-03-2737REPLY to Response to 31 Assented to MOTION for Extension of Time to 4/23/2018 to File Response/Reply as to 28 Memorandum in Opposition to Motion,, filed by Central Intelligence Agency. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 03/27/2018)
2018-04-0338MOTION for Limited Admission Pursuant to Student Practice Rule by AMANDA JOHNSON.(Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 04/03/2018)
2018-04-0939Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 38 Motion for Limited Admission Pursuant to Student Practice Rule. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 04/09/2018)
2018-04-0940Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ORDER of Temporary Admission re Audra Sawyer entered. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 04/09/2018)
2018-04-1041ELECTRONIC NOTICE RESETTING HEARING (TIME ONLY) on 23 Defendant's MOTION for Summary Judgment: Motion Hearing reset for 4:30 PM on 4/11/2018 in Courtroom 15 before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 04/10/2018)
2018-04-1142Electronic Clerk's Notes for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: Motion Hearing held on 4/11/2018 re 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Central Intelligence Agency. case called; USMJ Dein hears arguments from counsel and takes motion under advisement. (Court Reporter: Digital Recording.) To order a copy of this Digital Recording, please go to http://www.mad.uscourts.gov/attorneys/Magistrate-Audio.htm . For a transcript of this proceeding, contact Deborah Scalfani by email at deborah_scalfani@mad.uscourts.gov.(Attorneys present: Law Student Audra Sawyer with Andrew F. Sellars and AUSA Johnson) (Quinn, Thomas) Modified on 5/1/2018 (Quinn, Thomas). (Entered: 05/01/2018)
2018-05-0843Transcript of Motion Hearing held on April 11, 2017, before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein. The Transcript may be purchased through Maryann Young at youngtrans2@gmail.com, viewed at the public terminal, or viewed through PACER after it is released. Court Reporter Name and Contact Information: No Reporter Used. Digital Recording transcribed by Maryann Young. Redaction Request due 5/29/2018. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 6/8/2018. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 8/6/2018. (Scalfani, Deborah) (Entered: 05/08/2018)
2018-05-0844NOTICE is hereby given that an official transcript of a proceeding has been filed by the court reporter in the above-captioned matter. Counsel are referred to the Court's Transcript Redaction Policy, available on the court website at http://www.mad.uscourts.gov/attorneys/general-info.htm (Scalfani, Deborah) (Entered: 05/08/2018)
2018-05-2545REPLY to Response to 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Central Intelligence Agency. (Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 05/25/2018)
2018-05-2946Assented to MOTION for Leave to File Response to Defendant's Supplemental Filing by AMANDA JOHNSON.(Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 05/29/2018)
2018-05-3047Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 46 Motion for Leave to File Response to Defendant's Supplemental Filing ; Counsel using the Electronic Case Filing System should now file the document for which leave to file has been granted in accordance with the CM/ECF Administrative Procedures. Counsel must include - Leave to file granted on (date of order)- in the caption of the document. (Caruso, Stephanie) (Entered: 05/30/2018)
2018-06-0748SUR-REPLY to Motion re 23 MOTION for Summary Judgment Response to Defendant's Supplemental Filing filed by AMANDA JOHNSON. (Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 06/07/2018)
2018-06-2049MOTION for Leave to File Sur-Response, Unopposed by Central Intelligence Agency.(Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 06/20/2018)
2018-06-2150Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 49 Defendant's Motion for Leave to File Short Sur-Response. Counsel should now file the document for which leave to file has been granted in accordance with the CM/ECF Administrative Procedures. Counsel must include - Leave to file granted on (date of order)- in the caption of the document. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 06/21/2018)
2018-06-2851REPLY to Response to 46 Assented to MOTION for Leave to File Response to Defendant's Supplemental Filing filed by Central Intelligence Agency. (Johnson, Anita) (Entered: 06/28/2018)
2018-09-1752Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER denying 23 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 09/17/2018)
2018-09-1753SET DEADLINES: Joint Status Report due by 10/9/2018. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 09/17/2018)
2018-10-0954STATUS REPORT (Joint) by AMANDA JOHNSON. (Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 10/09/2018)
2018-10-1255Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered adopting the schedule contained in the parties' 54 Joint Status Report. The parties will file a further Joint Status Report by 2/11/2019. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 10/12/2018)
2019-02-0856Joint MOTION to Modify Scheduling Order by AMANDA JOHNSON.(Sellars, Andrew) (Entered: 02/08/2019)
2019-02-1157Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered granting 56 Joint Motion to Modify Scheduling Order. Joint Status Report due 3/29/2019. (Dambrosio, Jolyne) (Entered: 02/11/2019)
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