Case: American Civil Liberties Union v. Department of Justice

1:02-cv-02077 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: Oct. 24, 2002

Closed Date: 2003

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 24, 2002, the American Civil Liberties Union, joined by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and the Freedom to Read Foundation, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”). The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, claiming violations o…

On October 24, 2002, the American Civil Liberties Union, joined by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and the Freedom to Read Foundation, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”). The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, claiming violations of FOIA.

The plaintiffs alleged that the DOJ withheld records related to the government's implementation of the USA Patriot Act--specifically records that indicate the number of times the DOJ used particular surveillance and investigatory tools authorized by the Patriot Act since the Act took effect. The plaintiffs had requested expedited processing of their FOIA request on the grounds that the records sought pertained to "a matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government's integrity which affect public confidence." The government granted the request on September 3, 2002, but had not furnished the request as of the time of filing.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on November 13, 2002 which sought an immediate response to their request from the DOJ. After a court hearing before Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, the plaintiffs and the defendant agreed that the defendant would finish its processing of the requested documents by January 15, 2003. Judge Huvelle therefore denied the motion for the preliminary injunction and ordered that the defendant complete the processing by the agreed-upon date.

The DOJ released a portion of the records requested, those collected by the DOJ's Office of Information and Privacy and Office of Intelligence Policy, on January 15, 2003. The defendant moved for partial summary judgement on January 24, 2003, claiming that there were no issues of material fact regarding the defendant's compliance with the FOIA. The DOJ sought and received several extensions for the FBI's portion of the documents, and completed the order on March 3, 2003. The defendant then moved for summary judgement on March 7, 2003, claiming there were no issues of material fact regarding the defendant's compliance with FOIA for this set of documents. The plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for summary judgement on March 21, 2003.

Throughout the litigation, although it is not clear as to when, the plaintiffs narrowed the focus of their litigation, seeking improper withholdings in the released documents under two exceptions to the FOIA claimed by the defendant: Exemption 1 and Exemption 5. Exemption 1 authorizes the withholding of records “specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and . . . in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1). Exemption 5 shields “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party . . . in litigation with the agency.” Id. at § 552(b)(5). The plaintiffs argued that Exemption 1 did not preclude disclosure because the aggregate statistical data that they sought on the number of times the DOJ used particular surveillance and investigatory tools authorized by the Patriot Acts had not been classified, and that Exemption 5 is inapplicable because they sought only factual information that is not protected.

On May 19, 2003, Judge Huvelle denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgement and granted the defendant's motions for summary judgement, holding that the the DOJ's withholdings under Exemption 1 were appropriate and that the dispute over Exemption 5 was "largely illusory." Based on the Court's examination of the released documents, Judge Huvelle concluded that the data that the plaintiffs sought was properly withheld under Exemption 1 and that any arguments as to Exemption 5 were without merit.

The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Emma Holcomb (10/5/2018)

Related Cases

American Civil Liberties Union v. Department of Justice, District of Columbia (2003)

People


Judge(s)

Huvelle, Ellen Segal (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Beeson, Ann (District of Columbia)

Jaffer, Jameel (New York)

Sobel, David L. (District of Columbia)

Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Berman, Marcia (District of Columbia)

Coppolino, Anthony J. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Huvelle, Ellen Segal (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Beeson, Ann (District of Columbia)

Jaffer, Jameel (New York)

Sobel, David L. (District of Columbia)

Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Berman, Marcia (District of Columbia)

Coppolino, Anthony J. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:02-cv-02077

Docket

May 19, 2003

May 19, 2003

Docket
1

1:02-cv-02077

Complaint for Injunctive Relief

Oct. 24, 2002

Oct. 24, 2002

Complaint
20-3

1:02-cv-02077

Exhibits

March 7, 2003

March 7, 2003

Pleading / Motion / Brief
26

1:02-cv-02077

Memorandum Opinion

265 F.Supp.2d 20

May 19, 2003

May 19, 2003

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 11, 2022, 3:14 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ( Filing fee $150 ). Filed by AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS FOUNDATION FOR FREE EXPRESSION, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER, FREEDOM TO READ FOUNDATION. (nmr, ) (Entered: 10/25/2002)

Oct. 24, 2002

Oct. 24, 2002

SUMMONS (3) Issued as to DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE , U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (nmr, ) (Entered: 10/25/2002)

Oct. 24, 2002

Oct. 24, 2002

2

LCvR 26.1 − CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests filed by plaintiffs. (nmr, ) (Entered: 10/25/2002)

Oct. 24, 2002

Oct. 24, 2002

3

MOTION for Preliminary Injunction by AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction# 2 Affidavit Declaration of Jameel Jaffer# 3 Exhibit Ex. 1# 4 Exhibit Ex. 2# 5 Exhibit Ex. 3# 6 Exhibit Ex. 4# 7 Exhibit Ex. 5# 8 Exhibit Ex. 6# 9 Exhibit Ex. 7# 10 Exhibit Ex. 8# 11 Exhibit Ex. 9# 12 Exhibit Ex. 10# 13 Exhibit Ex. 11# 14 Exhibit Ex. 12# 15 Exhibit Ex. 13# 16 Exhibit Ex. 14# 17 Exhibit Ex. 15# 18 Exhibit Ex. 16)(Sobel, David) (Entered: 11/13/2002)

Nov. 13, 2002

Nov. 13, 2002

4

MOTION Admission Pro Hac Vice by AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION. (Sobel, David) (Entered: 11/13/2002)

Nov. 13, 2002

Nov. 13, 2002

ORDER granting Motion for admission pro hac vice 4 . Signed by Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle on 11/18/02. (BL, ) (Entered: 11/18/2002)

Nov. 18, 2002

Nov. 18, 2002

5

Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply re 3 to Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Coppolino, Anthony) (Entered: 11/19/2002)

Nov. 19, 2002

Nov. 19, 2002

6

NOTICE of Appearance by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Coppolino, Anthony) (Entered: 11/19/2002)

Nov. 19, 2002

Nov. 19, 2002

7

ORDER granting defendant's unopposed motion to extend time 5 . Signed by Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle on 11/19/02. (BL, ) (Entered: 11/19/2002)

Nov. 19, 2002

Nov. 19, 2002

8

Memorandum in opposition to motion re 3 Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Transcript Civil Action 00−1849)(Coppolino, Anthony) Additional attachment(s) added on 11/25/2002 (nmr, ). (Entered: 11/22/2002)

Nov. 22, 2002

Nov. 22, 2002

10

NOTICE by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE re 8 Memorandum in Opposition, Defendant's Notice of Filing of Declarations (Attachments: # 1 # 2 # 3 # 4)(Coppolino, Anthony) (Entered: 11/25/2002)

Nov. 25, 2002

Nov. 25, 2002

11

Defendant's ANSWER to Complaint by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Coppolino, Anthony) (Entered: 11/25/2002)

Nov. 25, 2002

Nov. 25, 2002

Set/Reset Hearings: Preliminary Injunction Hearing set for 11/26/2002 02:30 PM in Courtroom 18 before Ellen S. Huvelle. (gdf, ) (Entered: 11/25/2002)

Nov. 25, 2002

Nov. 25, 2002

Minute Entry Preliminary Injunction Hearing held before Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle on 11/26/2002 re 3 denying as moot the Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION. (Court Reporter Beth Wasserman, Miller Reporting.) (gdf, ) (Entered: 11/26/2002)

Nov. 26, 2002

Nov. 26, 2002

12

ORDER denying 3 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Further ordered that defendant shall complete its processing of plaintiffs' FOIA requests, not later than January 15, 2003; and it is further ordered that plaintiffs shall inform defendant in writing of the withholdings that it wishes to challenge no later than January 17, 2003; and it is further ordered that defendant's summary judgment motions shall be filed by 1/24/03; plaintiffs' response by 2/6/03 and defendant's reply by 2/17/03. Signed by Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on 11/26/02. (BL, ) (Entered: 11/26/2002)

Nov. 26, 2002

Nov. 26, 2002

Set Scheduling Order Deadlines: Summary Judgment Motion due by 1/24/2002. (BL, ) (Entered: 11/26/2002)

Nov. 26, 2002

Nov. 26, 2002

13

TRANSCRIPT of Proceedings held on 11/26/02 before Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle. Court Reporter: Elizabeth L. Wasserman. (nmr, ) (Entered: 01/23/2003)

Jan. 22, 2003

Jan. 22, 2003

14

MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Declaration of James A. Baker# 2 Affidavit Second Declaration of Melanie Ann Pustay# 3 Exhibit Exhibits to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment)(Coppolino, Anthony) (Entered: 01/24/2003)

Jan. 24, 2003

Jan. 24, 2003

15

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement until 1/31/03/I> by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Coppolino, Anthony) Modified on 1/27/2003 (mpt, ). (Entered: 01/24/2003)

Jan. 24, 2003

Jan. 24, 2003

Minute Order granting 15 Motion for Extension of Time to File defendant's summary judgment motion to 1/31/03. Signed by Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on 1/27/03. (BL, ) (Entered: 01/27/2003)

Jan. 27, 2003

Jan. 27, 2003

16

Second MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Declaration of David M. Hardy and Exhibits)(Coppolino, Anthony) (Entered: 01/31/2003)

Jan. 31, 2003

Jan. 31, 2003

Minute Order granting 16 unopposed motion to extend the date on which the FBI's complete response to plaintiffs' FOIA request, summary judgment motion and Vaughn declaration are due. Signed by Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on 2/4/03. (BL, ) (Entered: 02/04/2003)

Feb. 4, 2003

Feb. 4, 2003

17

NOTICE of Appearance by Arthur B. Spitzer on behalf of AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS FOUNDATION FOR FREE EXPRESSION, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER, FREEDOM TO READ FOUNDATION (mpt, ) (Entered: 02/06/2003)

Feb. 4, 2003

Feb. 4, 2003

18

NOTICE of Appearance by Marcia Berman on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Berman, Marcia) (Entered: 02/27/2003)

Feb. 27, 2003

Feb. 27, 2003

19

Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to file summary judgment motion by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Berman, Marcia) (Entered: 02/27/2003)

Feb. 27, 2003

Feb. 27, 2003

Minute Order granting 19 Motion for Extension of Time for FBI to file its summary judgment motion (to 3/7/03), plaintiff's oppostion (to 3/21/03) and DOJ's reply (to

March 4, 2003

March 4, 2003

21

Memorandum in opposition to motion of defendant DOJ for partial summary judgment and for summary judgment filed by AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1)(Sobel, David) (Entered: 03/21/2003)

March 21, 2003

March 21, 2003

22

Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1# 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Sobel, David) (Entered: 03/21/2003)

March 21, 2003

March 21, 2003

23

REPLY in support of motion re 14 for summary judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Third Declaration of Melanie Ann Pustay)(Berman, Marcia) (Entered: 03/28/2003)

March 28, 2003

March 28, 2003

24

REPLY in support of motion re 22 Plaintiffs' Cross−Motion for Summary Judgment filed by AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION. (Sobel, David) (Entered: 04/04/2003)

April 4, 2003

April 4, 2003

25

ORDER denying 22 Motion for Summary Judgment, granting 14 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, granting 20 Motion for Summary Judgment . Signed by Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on 5/19/03. (BL, ) (Entered: 05/19/2003)

May 19, 2003

May 19, 2003

26

MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on 5/19/03. (BL, ) (Entered: 05/19/2003)

May 19, 2003

May 19, 2003

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

National Security

Special Collection(s):

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 24, 2002

Closing Date: 2003

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Privacy Information Center, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and Freedom to Read foundation sought injunctive relief for the release of agency files under the Freedom of Information Act

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National (all projects)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Department of Justice (Washington, D.C., District of Columbia), Federal

Federal Bureau of Investigation (Washington, D.C., District of Columbia), Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

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

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Records Disclosure

Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues

Type of Facility:

Government-run