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Sep 15 17

FOIA Activity: 15 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 15 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between September 3, 2017 and September 9, 2017. These are associated with 10 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAC 5:2017cv00185Oronde London v. City of Redlands
    • September 5, 2017: FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION issued by Magistrate Judge Kenly Kiya Kato. Re: Complaint – (Discovery), [1] , NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION to Dismiss Case [43] (dts)
    • September 7, 2017: ORDER ACCEPTING FINAL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE by Judge John F. Walter for Report and Recommendation (Final) 55. The Court accepts the findings and recommendation of the Magistrate Judge. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Judgment be entered dismissing this action with prejudice and without leave to amend. (iva)
    • September 7, 2017: JUDGMENT by Judge John F. Walter, related to: ORDER ACCEPTING FINAL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE, [56] Pursuant to the Order Accepting Final Findings and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge, IT IS HEREBY ADJUDGED that this action is dismissed with prejudice. (MD JS-6, Case Terminated). (iva)
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Sep 7 17

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 62 documents from 14 FOIA cases filed between August 27, 2017 and September 2, 2017. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Aug 31, 2017)
    Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that he would create a task force to recommend changes in the administration of the Superfund program. PEER also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and granted PEER a fee waiver read more…
Sep 7 17

FOIA Activity: 12 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 12 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between August 27, 2017 and September 2, 2017. These are associated with 12 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. ARE 4:2016cv00622Steinbuch v. University of Arkansas et al
    • August 29, 2017: ORDER granting [12] Mr. Steinbuch's motion to remand, which the Court construes as Mr. Steinbuch's motion to dismiss voluntarily his federal First Amendment claim; denying as moot [3] all other pending motions in this matter; and directing the Clerk of Court to remand this action to the Circuit Court of Pulaski County. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 8/29/2017. (mef)
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Sep 5 17

Crisis Management Now Routine at ICE FOIA Office

by FOIA Project Staff

A classic picture of crisis management emerges from more than four years of case-by-case records from the FOIA office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, updated through June 2017. When monthly case closings are plotted, case processing shows anything but an even flow. See Figure 1.

requests_changeFigure 1. Number of ICE FOIA Requests Closed, by Month

Revealed instead is a mad scramble to close out backlogged FOIA requests each September – no doubt timed to beat the deadline for filing the agency’s annual report. In 2016, for example, the monthly FOIA closures numbered around 4,500 each month. Then in September they nearly tripled, jumping to 13,205, before returning in October back down to 3,840.

This was not a one-time freak occurrence. As shown in Figure 1, similar jumps in FOIA closings – indeed some even larger — can be observed in September 2014, and September 2015. See Figure 1.

When this picture is paired with a second showing how long cases have waited before they were closed, an equally disturbing pattern is seen. The sets of cases closed each September appear very different in composition from those typically processed during the rest of the fiscal year. During the first eleven months of FY 2016, for example, FOIA cases closed took on average 10-20 calendar days from receipt to closure. Then in September, the average closure time in that single month jumped to 313 calendar days! See Figure 2.

requests_changeFigure 2. Average Calendar Days ICE FOIA Requests Took to Close, by Month

Similar jumps in processing time can be observed in September during each of the two previous fiscal years.

Figures 1 and 2 in combination point to severe management problems plaguing ICE’s FOIA office. FOIA managers do not appear to monitor the processing of FOIA requests on a regular basis to ensure requests move smoothly through their work queues. Instead, ICE managers allow many requests to stall somewhere in the process until the end of the fiscal year approaches. Only then is there any apparent systematic attempt to ensure that older cases get attention and a frantic rush to close out stalled cases occurs.

While some effort to close out cases in September may be natural, the lack of attention given to ensuring a smooth flow of cases throughout the rest of the year is not only undesirable but counter-productive.

Answers to some requests are needlessly delayed in violation of timeliness requirements in the law. The quality of some responses that requesters receive surely suffer in such an intense push to close cases. And the pressure on FOIA staff to cut corners to speed case closures can hardly make the office a desirable place to work. For full details, see Agency FOIA Backlogs and Processing Times tool.

Sep 1 17

Update to FOIA Backlogs and Processing Times data tool

by FOIA Project Staff

We have updated the Agency FOIA Backlogs and Processing Times data tool.

Data has been updated for these agencies:

Aug 31 17

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. v. United States Department of Education et al

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 83 documents from 11 FOIA cases filed between August 20, 2017 and August 26, 2017. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. v. United States Department of Education et al (filed Aug 22, 2017)
    The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Education and the Department of Justice for records concerning the rescission of two guidance documents pertaining to schools’ Title IX obligations with respect to transgender students. The Department of Education acknowledged receipt of the request and told Lambda that it would take more time to respond read more…
Aug 31 17

FOIA Activity: 10 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 10 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between August 20, 2017 and August 26, 2017. These are associated with 9 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CO 1:2016cv00701Davis v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs
    • August 22, 2017: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer on 8/22/17 GRANTING [32] Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. As the court ruled from the bench on July 11, 2017, Plaintiffs Motion to Compel Production (doc. #31) and Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order (doc. #37) are DENIED. This case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, each side to bear his or its own costs. (nmarb, )
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Aug 24 17

PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC. v. UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE and 12 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 60 documents from 9 FOIA cases filed between August 13, 2017 and August 19, 2017. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC. v. UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE (filed Aug 17, 2017)
    Public Citizen submitted three FOIA requests to the U.S. Secret Service for records concerning visitors’ logs for visitors to four agencies within the White House complex that are subject to FOIA �” OMB, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Council on Environmental Quality read more…
Aug 24 17

FOIA Activity: 10 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 10 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between August 13, 2017 and August 19, 2017. These are associated with 10 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. AZ 2:2015cv00247American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona et al v. United States Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties et al
    • August 14, 2017: ORDER granting in part and denying in part [56] Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment and [62] Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment. Granting each party leave to re-file abbreviated and non-duplicative motions for summary judgment as set forth in this Order, if necessary. See Order for details. Signed by Judge John J Tuchi on 8/14/17.(DXD)
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Aug 17 17

STATE OF CALIFORNIA v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY and 19 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 129 documents from 20 FOIA cases filed between August 6, 2017 and August 12, 2017. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. STATE OF CALIFORNIA v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Aug 11, 2017)
    The State of California submitted FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning the process the agency has taken to ensure that Administrator Scott Pruitt is in compliance with federal ethics regulations and obligations and the agency’s policies and procedures for determining who (if anyone) can assume the powers of the Administrator if Pruitt is disqualified from participating in a matter read more…