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Case TitleJUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2017cv00916
Date Filed2017-05-16
Date Closed2018-02-05
JudgeJudge Christopher R. Cooper
PlaintiffJUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
Case DescriptionJudicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning contacts with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who had investigated Donald Trump's potential connections to Russia. 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 JUSTICE
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Opinion/Order [19]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Christopher Cooper has ruled that the FBI properly issued a Glomar response neither confirming nor denying the existence of records in response to a request from Judicial Watch for records concerning whether the FBI had considered paying former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele for his dossier pertaining to allegations the Russians had compromising information about Donald Trump. Judicial Watch argued that Trump had publicly acknowledged the existence of records concerning payment for the Steele dossier in an Oct. 21 tweet that read "Officials behind the now discredited 'Dossier' plead the Fifth. Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it." Cooper disagreed. He noted that "clearly, this tweet does not publicly and officially acknowledge the existence of any documents related to the first and third parts of Judicial Watch's FOIA request " which sought records of communications between the FBI and Mr. Steele and records produced in preparation for any meetings or conversations between the FBI and Mr. Steele. The tweet makes no reference to any meetings or communications between the FBI and Mr. Steele. As such, it does not constitute a public acknowledgment of the existence of any documents within the scope of the first and third parts of Judicial Watch's request." Nor did the tweet address the matter of whether or not the FBI paid for the Steele dossier. Here, Cooper explained that "while the President's tweet could arguably suggest that the FBI has some records concerning who paid for the Trump Dossier, it does not acknowledge that there are records that the FBI paid for it. Because Judicial Watch must point to a public acknowledgement of the specific records it seeks, this tweet is insufficient to constitute public acknowledgement."
Issues: Determination - Glomar response, Public domain
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2017-05-161COMPLAINT against U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4953276) filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons U.S. Attorney, # 3 Summons U.S. Attorney General, # 4 Summons U.S. Department of Justice)(Peterson, James) (Entered: 05/16/2017)
2017-05-162LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Peterson, James) (Entered: 05/16/2017)
2017-05-16Case Assigned to Judge Christopher R. Cooper. (md) (Entered: 05/18/2017)
2017-05-193SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (jf) (Entered: 05/19/2017)
2017-05-264RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 5/26/2017. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 6/25/2017.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 5/26/2017., RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE served on 5/26/2017 (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Cristina Rotaru)(Peterson, James) (Entered: 05/26/2017)
2017-06-265NOTICE of Appearance by James O. Bickford on behalf of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Bickford, James) (Entered: 06/26/2017)
2017-06-266ANSWER to Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Bickford, James) (Entered: 06/26/2017)
2017-06-27MINUTE ORDER: Before the Court in this FOIA case are a 1 Complaint and an 6 Answer. It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall promptly confer and file a joint proposed schedule for briefing or disclosure by July 14, 2017. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 6/27/2017. (lccrc2) (Entered: 06/27/2017)
2017-06-28Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Proposed Briefing Schedule due by 7/14/2017 (lsj) (Entered: 06/28/2017)
2017-07-147Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Bickford, James) (Entered: 07/14/2017)
2017-07-18MINUTE ORDER: In light of 7 parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the summary-judgment briefing schedule be established as follows: Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be due on or by September 15, 2017; Plaintiff's cross-motion and opposition to Defendant's motion shall be due on or by October 20, 2017; Defendant's opposition and reply in support of its motion shall be due on or by November 17, 2017; and Plaintiff's reply shall be due on or by December 8, 2017. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 7/18/2017. (lccrc2) (Entered: 07/18/2017)
2017-09-138Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Bickford, James) (Entered: 09/13/2017)
2017-09-15MINUTE ORDER granting 8 Defendant's Motion for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment. The following briefing schedule shall now apply: Defendant shall file its Motion for Summary Judgment by September 25, 2017. Plaintiff shall file its Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and Opposition by November 3, 2017. Defendant shall file its Opposition and Reply by November 30, 2017. Plaintiff shall file its Reply by December 22, 2017. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 9/15/17. (lccrc2) Modified on 9/15/2017 (zlsj). (Entered: 09/15/2017)
2017-09-259MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Bickford, James) (Entered: 09/25/2017)
2017-09-2510AFFIDAVIT Declaration of David M. Hardy by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit)(Bickford, James) (Entered: 09/25/2017)
2017-11-0211Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File and Reset Briefing Schedule by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, James) (Entered: 11/02/2017)
2017-11-03MINUTE ORDER granting 11 Plaintiff's Motion to Reset Briefing Schedule. The following briefing schedule shall now apply: Plaintiff's combined motion for summary judgment and opposition is due by November 17, 2017; Defendant's combined opposition and reply is due by December 14, 2017; and Plaintiff's reply is due by January 5, 2018. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 11/3/2017. (lccrc2) (Entered: 11/03/2017)
2017-11-1712Memorandum in opposition to re 9 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, James) (Entered: 11/17/2017)
2017-11-1713Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, James) (Entered: 11/17/2017)
2017-12-1414Memorandum in opposition to re 13 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Reply in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Bickford, James) (Entered: 12/14/2017)
2017-12-1415REPLY to opposition to motion re 9 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (See Docket Entry 14 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 12/15/2017)
2018-01-0516Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 13 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, James) (Entered: 01/05/2018)
2018-01-08MINUTE ORDER granting 16 Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time to File Reply. Plaintiff's reply is due by January 9, 2018. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 1/8/2018. (lccrc1) (Entered: 01/08/2018)
2018-01-09Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiff's Reply due by 1/9/2018. (mac) (Entered: 01/09/2018)
2018-01-0917REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Peterson, James) (Entered: 01/09/2018)
2018-02-0518ORDER granting 9 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and denying 13 Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted and Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment be denied. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 2/5/2018. (lccrc2) (Entered: 02/05/2018)
2018-02-0519MEMORANDUM OPINION re 18 Order granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment and denying Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 2/5/2018. (lccrc2) (Entered: 02/05/2018)
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by FOIA Project Staff