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Case TitleLEOPOLD et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2017cv02819
Date Filed2017-12-28
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Amit P. Mehta
PlaintiffJASON LEOPOLD
PlaintiffBUZZFEED, INC.
Case DescriptionBuzzfeed reporter Jason Leopold submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning the agency's reaction to 152 attached news articles, some of which may have included leaked material. Leopold also requested expedited processing, a fee waiver and inclusion in the news media fee category. The agency issued a Glomar response neither confirming nor denying the existence of records. Leopold filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Leopold filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Expedited processing, Public Interest Fee Waiver, Fee Category - Media or Educational, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantDEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
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Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2017-12-281COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5266649) filed by JASON LEOPOLD, BUZZFEED, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 12/28/2017)
2017-12-282LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by BUZZFEED, INC. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 12/28/2017)
2017-12-28Case Assigned to Judge Amit P. Mehta. (zsb) (Entered: 12/28/2017)
2017-12-283SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zsb) (Entered: 12/28/2017)
2018-02-074NOTICE of Appearance by Joshua M. Kolsky on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 02/07/2018)
2018-02-075ANSWER to 1 Complaint by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 02/07/2018)
2018-02-08MINUTE ORDER. Both a Complaint and 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 February 22, 2018. The Joint Status Report shall include (1) the status of Plaintiffs' FOIA requests; (2) the anticipated number of documents responsive to Plaintiffs' FOIA requests; (3) the anticipated date(s) for release of the documents requested by Plaintiffs; (4) whether a motion for stay is likely under Open America v. Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 547 F.2d 605 (D.C. Cir. 1976); and (5) whether the parties anticipate summary judgment briefing and, if so, a proposed briefing schedule. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 02/08/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 02/08/2018)
2018-02-08Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 2/22/2018. (zcdw) (Entered: 02/12/2018)
2018-02-226Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 02/22/2018)
2018-02-23MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 6 February 22, 2018, Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before April 26, 2018, that updates the court on the status of production and, if necessary, proposes a briefing schedule for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 02/23/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 02/23/2018)
2018-02-23Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 4/26/2018. (zcdw) (Entered: 02/26/2018)
2018-04-267Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 04/26/2018)
2018-04-27MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 7 Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before May 17, 2018, indicating whether summary judgment briefing will be necessary and, if so, proposing a briefing schedule. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 04/27/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 04/27/2018)
2018-05-178Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 05/17/2018)
2018-05-21MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 8 Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before June 14, 2018, that updates the court on the status of the additional searches and, if necessary, proposes a briefing schedule for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 05/21/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 05/21/2018)
2018-05-21Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 6/14/2018. (zjd) (Entered: 05/24/2018)
2018-06-149Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 06/14/2018)
2018-06-15MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 9 Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before July 16, 2018, that updates the court on their progress and, if necessary, proposes a briefing schedule for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 06/15/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 06/15/2018)
2018-06-15Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 7/16/2018. (zjd) (Entered: 06/18/2018)
2018-07-1610Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 07/16/2018)
2018-07-17MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 10 Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before August 13, 2018, that updates the court on their progress and, if necessary, proposes a briefing schedule for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 07/17/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 07/17/2018)
2018-07-17Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 8/13/2018. (zjd) (Entered: 07/18/2018)
2018-07-17Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 8/13/2018. (zjd) (Entered: 07/18/2018)
2018-08-1311Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 08/13/2018)
2018-08-14MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 11 Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before September 12, 2018, that proposes a production schedule or, if necessary, a briefing schedule for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 08/14/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 08/14/2018)
2018-08-14Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 9/12/2018. (zjd) (Entered: 08/15/2018)
2018-09-1212Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Joint Status Report by BUZZFEED, INC., JASON LEOPOLD (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 09/12/2018)
2018-09-13MINUTE ORDER granting Plaintiffs' 12 Consent Motion for Extension of Time to File Joint Status Report nunc pro tunc to September 12, 2018. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 09/13/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 09/13/2018)
2018-09-1313Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 09/13/2018)
2018-09-14MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 13 Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before November 16, 2018, that updates the court on their progress and, if necessary, proposes a briefing schedule for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 09/14/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 09/14/2018)
2018-09-14Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 11/16/2018. (zjd) (Entered: 09/17/2018)
2018-11-1614Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 11/16/2018)
2018-11-19MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 14 November 16, 2018, Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file another Joint Status Report, on or before January 15, 2019, that updates the court on the search progress. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 11/19/2018. (lcapm1) (Entered: 11/19/2018)
2018-11-19Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 1/15/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 11/21/2018)
2018-12-2615NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Paul Cirino on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Substituting for attorney Joshua M. Kolsky (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 12/26/2018)
2019-01-2316Consent MOTION to Stay in Light of Lapse in Appropriations by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 01/23/2019)
2019-01-25MINUTE ORDER denying 16 Defendant's Consent Motion to Stay Proceedings as soon-to-be moot. The parties shall file a Joint Status Report no later than February 5, 2019, updating the court on Defendant's search and processing of responsive information. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 01/25/2019. (lcapm1) (Entered: 01/25/2019)
2019-01-25Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 2/5/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 01/29/2019)
2019-02-0517Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 02/05/2019)
2019-02-06MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file their next Joint Status Report by April 5, 2019, updating the court on search and production efforts. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 02/06/2019. (lcapm1) (Entered: 02/06/2019)
2019-02-06Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 4/5/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 02/06/2019)
2019-04-0418Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 04/04/2019)
2019-06-0419Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 06/04/2019)
2019-06-05MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file their next Joint Status Report by August 1, 2019, updating the court on search and production efforts. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 06/05/2019. (lcapm1) (Entered: 06/05/2019)
2019-06-05Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 8/1/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 06/06/2019)
2019-08-0120Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 08/01/2019)
2019-08-02MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file their next Joint Status Report by September 30, 2019, updating the court on search and production efforts. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 08/02/2019. (lcapm1) (Entered: 08/02/2019)
2019-08-02Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 9/30/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 08/02/2019)
2019-09-3021Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 09/30/2019)
2019-10-01MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file their next Joint Status Report by November 29, 2019, proposing a schedule for further proceedings in this matter. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/01/2019. (lcapm1) (Entered: 10/01/2019)
2019-10-01Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 11/29/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 10/01/2019)
2019-11-2722Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 11/27/2019)
2019-11-27MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file an additional Joint Status Report by January 28, 2020, which updates the court on search and production efforts and proposes a briefing schedule, if appropriate, on the Glomar response. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 11/27/2019. (lcapm1) (Entered: 11/27/2019)
2019-11-27Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 1/28/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 12/03/2019)
2020-01-2823Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 01/28/2020)
2020-01-29MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file an additional Joint Status Report by March 30, 2020, which updates the court on search and production efforts and proposes a briefing schedule, if appropriate, on the Glomar response. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 1/29/2020. (lcapm1) (Entered: 01/29/2020)
2020-01-29Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 3/30/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 01/29/2020)
2020-03-3024Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 03/30/2020)
2020-03-31MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall submit an additional Joint Status Report by May 29, 2020, and every 60 days thereafter, which updates the court on the search and processing of responsive records. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 3/31/2020. (lcapm1) (Entered: 03/31/2020)
2020-03-31Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 5/29/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 03/31/2020)
2020-05-2925Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 05/29/2020)
2020-07-2326NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Kathleene A. Molen on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Substituting for attorney Paul Cirino (Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 07/23/2020)
2020-07-2827Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 07/28/2020)
2020-09-2528Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 09/25/2020)
2020-11-2429Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 11/24/2020)
2021-01-2530Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 01/25/2021)
2021-03-2431Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 03/24/2021)
2021-05-2432Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 05/24/2021)
2021-05-25MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file an additional Joint Status Report by June 7, 2021, that advises whether any disputes remain and, if so, proposes a schedule for further proceedings in this matter. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 5/25/2021. (lcapm1) (Entered: 05/25/2021)
2021-06-0733PROPOSED BRIEFING SCHEDULE by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 06/07/2021)
2021-06-0834ORDER entering the briefing schedule proposed in the parties' 33 Proposed Briefing Schedule. The schedule for further proceedings in this matter is as follows: (1) Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be filed on or before August 27, 2021; (2) Plaintiffs' combined opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment and cross-motion for summary judgment shall be filed on or before September 27, 2021; (3) Defendant's combined reply and opposition to Plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment shall be filed on or before October 27, 2021; and (4) Plaintiffs' reply shall be filed on or before November 26, 2021. See the attached Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 6/7/2021. (lcapm1) (Entered: 06/08/2021)
2021-08-1835Consent MOTION to Modify Briefing Schedule by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 08/18/2021)
2021-08-1936ORDER granting Defendant's 35 Consent Motion to Modify the Briefing Schedule. Defendant shall file its Motion for Summary Judgment on or before September 17, 2021. Plaintiffs shall file their combined Opposition and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before October 18, 2021. Defendant shall file its combined Opposition and Reply on or before November 17, 2021. Plaintiffs shall file their Reply on or before December 20, 2021. See the attached Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 8/19/2021. (lcapm1) (Entered: 08/19/2021)
2021-09-1737Consent MOTION to Modify Briefing Schedule by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 09/17/2021)
2021-09-2038ORDER granting Defendant's 37 Consent Motion to Modify the Briefing Schedule. Defendant shall file its Motion for Summary Judgment on or before September 21, 2021. Plaintiffs shall file their combined Opposition and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before October 22, 2021. Defendant shall file its combined Opposition and Reply on or before November 17, 2021. Plaintiffs shall file their Reply on or before December 20, 2021. See the attached Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 9/20/2021. (lcapm1) (Entered: 09/20/2021)
2021-09-2139MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Declaration Vanessa R. Brinkmann, # 4 Exhibit OIP Exhibits A-K, # 5 Declaration Michael G. Seidel, # 6 Declaration Kevin G. Tiernan, # 7 Text of Proposed Order)(Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 09/21/2021)
2021-09-2740MOTION for Order Directing Defendant to Amend Its Motion for Summary Judgment by BUZZFEED, INC., JASON LEOPOLD. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 09/27/2021)
2021-10-0841Memorandum in opposition to re 40 MOTION for Order Directing Defendant to Amend Its Motion for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 10/08/2021)
2021-10-19MINUTE ORDER granting 40 Plaintiff's Motion for an Order Directing Defendant to Amend its Motion for Summary Judgment [hereinafter Pl.s Mot.]. Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment on September 21, 2021. See 39 Def.'s Mem. of P&A in Support of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.]. With respect to sub-component National Security Division (NSD), Defendant's motion raised only one affirmative defense: failure to exhaust administrative remedies. See id. at 24-26. NSD, however, asserted other defenses during the administrative proceedings, including a Glomar response for one request and directing the requester to other agencies as to others. See 39 Decl. of Kevin G. Tiernan ISO Def.'s Mot. Plaintiff now asks the court to compel Defendant to assert these additional defenses in summary judgment to avoid piecemeal litigation. Pl.'s Mot. at 4. The court agrees that this is the better course. To be sure, the failure-to-exhaust, if established, is bar to judicial review. Hidalgo v. FBI, 344 F.3d 1256, 1259 (D.C. Cir. 2003). But it is a prudential consideration rather than a jurisdictional prerequisite, and so the court actually can decide a FOIA case on the merits without reaching the question of exhaustion. Wilbur v. CIA, 355 F.3d 675, 677 (D.C. Cir. 2004). Here, the court is disinclined to allow a second round of summary judgment if it rejects Defendant's exhaustion defense. Such an approach would be inefficient, as it would deny the court full consideration of all affirmative defenses at once. It also would delay disclosure of records if the court were to side with Plaintiff. Defendant cites no authority in support of its favored piecemeal approach. Accordingly, Defendant shall supplement its motion for summary judgment to assert additional defenses with respect to NSD by November 3, 2021. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/19/2021. (lcapm1) (Entered: 10/19/2021)
2021-10-2242Consent MOTION to Stay Summary Judgment Briefing by BUZZFEED, INC., JASON LEOPOLD. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 10/22/2021)
2021-10-2243ORDER granting 42 Motion to Stay Summary Judgment Briefing. All current briefing deadlines are vacated, briefing is stayed, and the parties shall file a proposed new briefing schedule on or before October 29, 2021. Please see attached Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/22/2021. (lcapm1) (Entered: 10/22/2021)
2021-10-2944PROPOSED BRIEFING SCHEDULE by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Molen, Kathleene) (Entered: 10/29/2021)
2021-10-2945ORDER entering the briefing schedule proposed in the parties' 44 Proposed Briefing Schedule. The schedule for further proceedings in this matter is as follows: (1) NSD's supplemental motion for summary judgment shall be filed on or before January 7, 2022; (2) Plaintiffs combined opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment shall be filed on or before February 7, 2022; (3) Defendant's combined reply and opposition to Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment shall be filed on or before March 9, 2022; and (4) Plaintiff's reply shall be filed on or before April 8, 2022. See the attached Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/29/2021. (lcapm1) (Entered: 10/29/2021)
2021-11-0446NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Stephen DeGenaro on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Substituting for attorney Kathleene Molen (DeGenaro, Stephen) (Entered: 11/04/2021)
2022-01-0747Supplemental MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Supplemental Statement of Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Declaration of Kevin G. Tiernan, # 4 Declaration of Patrick N. Findlay, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(DeGenaro, Stephen) (Entered: 01/07/2022)
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