Case: Electronic Privacy Information Center v. Department of Justice

1:05-cv-00845 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: April 28, 2005

Closed Date: 2006

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 28, 2005, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. §552, the plaintiffs sought expedited processing and release of agency records the plaintiff had requested from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), a component of the defendant, the United States Department of Justice. Specifically, the plaintiffs sought records of the FBI’s use of certa…

On April 28, 2005, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. §552, the plaintiffs sought expedited processing and release of agency records the plaintiff had requested from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), a component of the defendant, the United States Department of Justice. Specifically, the plaintiffs sought records of the FBI’s use of certain controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that were up for potential congressional reauthorization before December 31, 2005.

The PATRIOT Act was enacted quickly following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In part, the Act expanded the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) powers. Because there was some concern about these expanded surveillance power prior to passage, the PATRIOT Act included a “sunset” provision; certain PATRIOT Act provisions were to become ineffective on December 31, 2005 without further congressional action. The plaintiff claimed there was a strong and urgent need for Congress and the public to know how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) had been using the sunsetting provisions, particularly as congressional committees were holding PATRIOT Act oversight hearings in April and May 2005 and determining whether to reauthorize the sunsetting provisions of the PATRIOT act before December 31, 2005.

EPIC had initially made a FOIA request to the FBI for agency records related to their use of the relevant provisions on March 29, 2005, requesting expedited processing of the request due to the public interest in how the FBI has used expanded law enforcement powers granted by the PATRIOT Act. On April 12, 2005, the FBI purportedly granted processing of plaintiff’s request, but as of the filing of the complaint on April 28, 2005, the FBI had not provided plaintiff with any indication of when its processing might be completed.

On June 14, 2005, EPIC filed a motion to compel expedited processing of its FOIA request. On October 4, 2005, the FBI provided an “interim response” to plaintiff’s FOIA request, consisting of 252 pages of responsive material, but did not indicate when it might complete processing of the request. The plaintiff argued in a memorandum request a status hearing that the volume of news coverage regarding the initial pages released, which the New York Times reported “disclosed at least a dozen violations of federal law or bureau policy from 2002 to 2004 in the handling of surveillance and investigative matters," reflected the significant public interest in the information and the pressing need for its prompt release.

On November 8, 2005, Judge Gladys Kessler granted the motion for expedited processing of EPIC’s FOIA Request. The parties were unable to come to an agreement regarding the timeline for processing the remaining pages, so Judge Kessler ordered on November 16, 2005 that defendant would complete the processing of 1500 pages every 15 calendar days and provide all responsive pages to plaintiff until processing was complete.

The defendant completed processing of the plaintiff’s requested documents on January 17, 2006. Judge Kessler order that the defendant pay the Electronic Privacy Information Center $12,000 for attorney’s fees and costs, and dismissed the action on August 29, 2006. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Sarah McDonald (2/7/2018)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4568712/parties/electronic-privacy-information-center-v-department-of-justice/


Judge(s)

Kessler, Gladys (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hofmann, Marcia (California)

Rotenberg, Marc (District of Columbia)

Sobel, David L. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Peterson, Benton G (District of Columbia)

Sowles, Marcia Kay (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Kessler, Gladys (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hofmann, Marcia (California)

Rotenberg, Marc (District of Columbia)

Sobel, David L. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Peterson, Benton G (District of Columbia)

Sowles, Marcia Kay (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Aug. 29, 2006 Docket
1

Complaint for Injunctive Relief

April 28, 2005 Complaint
19

Memorandum Opinion

Nov. 16, 2005 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4568712/electronic-privacy-information-center-v-department-of-justice/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Filing fee $ 250) filed by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER.(jf, ) (Entered: 04/29/2005)

April 28, 2005 PACER
2

NOTICE OF RELATED CASE by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. Case related to Case No. 03-2522. (jf, ) (Entered: 04/29/2005)

April 28, 2005 PACER
3

LCvR 7.1 - CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER (jf, ) (Entered: 04/29/2005)

April 28, 2005 PACER
4

NOTICE of Appearance by Benton Gregory Peterson on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 05/09/2005)

May 9, 2005 PACER
5

NOTICE of Appearance by Marcia Kay Sowles on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Sowles, Marcia) (Entered: 05/26/2005)

May 26, 2005 PACER
6

Defendant's ANSWER to Complaint for Injunctive Relief by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Sowles, Marcia) (Entered: 05/27/2005)

May 27, 2005 PACER
7

ORDER that case be returned to Calendar Committee for random assignment. Signed by Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on 5/27/05. (lcesh2) (Entered: 05/27/2005)

May 27, 2005 PACER
8

MOTION to Compel Expedited Processing of Plaintiff's Freedom of Information Act Request by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1# 2 Exhibit 2# 3 Exhibit 3# 4 Exhibit 4# 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Hofmann, Marcia) (Entered: 06/14/2005)

1 Exhibit 1

View on PACER

2 Exhibit 2

View on PACER

3 Exhibit 3

View on PACER

4 Exhibit 4

View on PACER

5 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

June 14, 2005 RECAP
9

Memorandum in opposition to motion re 8 filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Declaration of David M. Hardy (Attachment A)# 2 Exhibit exhibits to Hardy Declaration# 3 Exhibit Transcript (Attachment B)# 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Sowles, Marcia) (Entered: 06/29/2005)

June 29, 2005 PACER
10

REPLY to opposition to motion re 8 filed by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Marcia Hofmann)(Hofmann, Marcia) (Entered: 07/06/2005)

July 6, 2005 PACER
11

NOTICE of Appearance by David L. Sobel on behalf of ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER (Sobel, David) (Entered: 10/28/2005)

Oct. 28, 2005 PACER
12

MEMORANDUM by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1# 2 Exhibit 2# 3 Exhibit 3# 4 Exhibit 4# 5 Exhibit 5# 6 Exhibit 6)(Sobel, David) (Entered: 10/28/2005)

Oct. 28, 2005 PACER
13

ORDER granting 8 Plaintiff's Motion for Expedited Processing of Plaintiff's Freedom of Information Act Request; by the close of business on November 9, 2005, Plaintiff shall submit a revised proposed order for Plaintiff's Motion; by the close of business on November 14, 2005, the parties shall submit a joint Praecipe containing either a schedule for the processing of the remaining documents, or notification to the Court that they have been unable to reach an agreement . Signed by Judge Gladys Kessler on 11/8/05. (CS, ) (Entered: 11/08/2005)

Nov. 8, 2005 RECAP
14

NOTICE of Filing by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Hofmann, Marcia) (Entered: 11/09/2005)

Nov. 9, 2005 PACER
15

NOTICE -- Joint Praecipe by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Hofmann, Marcia) (Entered: 11/14/2005)

Nov. 14, 2005 PACER
16

RESPONSE to 14 Plaintiff's Notice of Filing filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order Defendant's Proposed Order)(Sowles, Marcia) (Entered: 11/14/2005)

Nov. 14, 2005 PACER
17

MOTION to Strike Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Notice of Filing by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Sobel, David) (Entered: 11/14/2005)

Nov. 14, 2005 RECAP
18

Memorandum in opposition to motion re 17 Plaintiff's Motion to Strike filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Sowles, Marcia) (Entered: 11/15/2005)

Nov. 15, 2005 PACER
19

MEMORANDUM ORDER Establishing Procedures for Processing of Plaintiff's FOIA Request. Signed by Judge Gladys Kessler on November 16, 2005. (lcgk1, ) (Entered: 11/16/2005)

Nov. 16, 2005 RECAP
20

TRANSCRIPT of Proceedings held on 11/8/05 Status Hearing before Judge Gladys Kessler. Court Reporter: Susan P. Tyner. The public may view the document in the Clerk's Office between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m, Monday through Friday. (tg, ) (Entered: 02/01/2006)

Jan. 31, 2006 PACER
21

STIPULATION of Dismissal and Proposed Order by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Sowles, Marcia) (Entered: 08/29/2006)

Aug. 29, 2006 PACER
22

STIPULATION AND ORDER: Defendant shall pay plaintiff $12,000 in full settlement of all claims for attorney fees and litigation costs; this stipulation constitutes final resolution of any remaining claims which plaintiff may have against defendant with regard to this FOIA request; this action is hereby dismissed with prejudice and, except as provided in paragraph 2, without fees or costs. Signed by Judge Gladys Kessler on 8/29/06. (tth, ) (Entered: 08/29/2006)

Aug. 29, 2006 PACER

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

National Security

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 28, 2005

Closing Date: 2006

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research organization which, among other things, reviews federal law enforcement activities and policies to determine their potential impact on privacy interests and civil liberties.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

United States Department of Justice, Federal

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Amount Defendant Pays: 12000

Content of Injunction:

Required disclosure

Issues

General:

Records Disclosure