Case: Democracy Forward Foundation v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

1:18-cv-00375 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: Feb. 20, 2018

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On Feb. 20, 2018, the Democracy Forward Foundation filed this lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Represented by its own counsel, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.According to the complaint, the plaintiff is a nonprofit organization that "works to promote transparency and accountability in government, in part, by educating the public on government actions and policies.…

On Feb. 20, 2018, the Democracy Forward Foundation filed this lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Represented by its own counsel, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff is a nonprofit organization that "works to promote transparency and accountability in government, in part, by educating the public on government actions and policies." The plaintiff stated that the Trump administration sought to expand the detention of undocumented immigrants with Executive Order 13767 -- a practice which would increase reliance on private detention facilities. However, these facilities had long faced criticism for health and safety hazards resulting in deaths, sexual abuse, and other injuries. Further, the private detention industry significantly supported Trump's campaign and business enterprises, raising questions as to the extent of these contributions in the administration's use of private detention. The plaintiff thus sought information on DHS's relationship with private detention corporations.

The plaintiff stated that it had submitted a FOIA request to DHS on May 18, 2017, seeking the following records created since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017:

1. Records relating to the procurement of services for the planning, construction, operation, or maintenance of private detention or immigration-detention centers and/or facilities, or by private detention center and/or facility companies;

2. New contracts or new amendments to contracts related to services rendered for private detention centers and/or facilities, or by private detention center and/or facility companies; and

3. Records containing certain relevant keywords, that were sent or received by specific DHS employees.

The complaint further alleged that, to date, the plaintiff had not received a substantive response from DHS, and that the plaintiff had constructively exhausted all required administrative remedies. The plaintiff sought a disclosure order under FOIA, legal fees, and expedited action.

On Feb. 20, this case was assigned to Judge Rudolph Contreras. Per a joint status report filed on May 15, 2018, the government completed the requested searches and was to process 500 pages per month. Beginning in June, the government was to produce any responsive records on a monthly basis. Subsequent status reports indicated the production was ongoing.

The joint status report dated March 21, 2019 indicated that the defendants had completed their response to the plaintiff’s request, but that the plaintiffs had asked the defendant for “additional information regarding the searches that each agency component performed, as well as a Vaughn index for Defendant’s withholdings under FOIA Exemption 5, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5)."

According to a status report dated May 17, 2019, the defendant provided the plaintiff with descriptions of its searches performed by DHS Headquarters, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection on May 3. ICE also completed a supplemental search, as reported on July 15. A year of status reports followed, during which ICE reported that it had reviewed non-exempt responsive records on a monthly basis, at a rate of 500 pages per month, with some pages redacted as per FOIA exemptions.

The case remains ongoing with the next status report due June 16, 2020.

Summary Authors

Ava Morgenstern (5/5/2018)

Virginia Weeks (10/24/2018)

Averyn Lee (6/3/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6310482/parties/democracy-forward-foundation-v-department-of-homeland-security/


Judge(s)

Contreras, Rudolph (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia)

Guzman, Javier M (District of Columbia)

Seel, Benjamin (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Cirino, Paul (District of Columbia)

Kolsky, Joshua (District of Columbia)

Liu, Jessie K. (District of Columbia)

Shea, Timothy J (District of Columbia)

Van Horn, Daniel F (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Contreras, Rudolph (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia)

Guzman, Javier M (District of Columbia)

Seel, Benjamin (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Cirino, Paul (District of Columbia)

Kolsky, Joshua (District of Columbia)

Liu, Jessie K. (District of Columbia)

Shea, Timothy J (District of Columbia)

Van Horn, Daniel F (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:18-cv-00375

Docket [PACER]

Democracy Forward Foundation v. Department of Homeland Security

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

Docket
1

1:80-cv-00375

Complaint

Democracy Forward Foundation v. Department of Homeland Security

Feb. 20, 2018

Feb. 20, 2018

Complaint
8

1:18-cv-00375

Joint Status Report

Democracy Forward Foundation v. Department of Homeland Security

April 26, 2018

April 26, 2018

Pleading / Motion / Brief
16

1:18-cv-00375

Joint Status Report

March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019

Pleading / Motion / Brief
17

1:18-cv-00375

Joint Status Report

April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019

Pleading / Motion / Brief
21

1:18-cv-00375

Joint Status Report

July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019

Pleading / Motion / Brief
27

1:18-cv-00375

Joint Status Report

March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6310482/democracy-forward-foundation-v-department-of-homeland-security/

Last updated July 23, 2022, 3 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against All Defendants ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5338164) filed by DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Civil Cover Sheet, # 3 Summons, # 4 Summons, # 5 Summons)(Guzman, Javier) (Entered: 02/20/2018)

1 Exhibit

View on PACER

2 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

3 Summons

View on PACER

4 Summons

View on PACER

5 Summons

View on PACER

Feb. 20, 2018

Feb. 20, 2018

RECAP
2

LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION (Guzman, Javier) (Entered: 02/20/2018)

Feb. 20, 2018

Feb. 20, 2018

PACER

Case Assigned to Judge Rudolph Contreras. (jd)

Feb. 20, 2018

Feb. 20, 2018

PACER
3

SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Notice and Consent)(jd) (Entered: 02/20/2018)

Feb. 20, 2018

Feb. 20, 2018

PACER
4

RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY served on 2/22/2018, RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 02/23/2018., RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 2/23/2018. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 3/25/2018.) (Attachments: # 1 Declaration)(Guzman, Javier) (Entered: 02/26/2018)

Feb. 26, 2018

Feb. 26, 2018

PACER
5

NOTICE of Appearance by Joshua M. Kolsky on behalf of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 03/26/2018)

March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018

PACER
6

ANSWER to 1 Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.(Kolsky, Joshua) Modified to add link on 3/27/2018 (znmw). (Entered: 03/26/2018)

March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall meet, confer, and submit a proposed briefing schedule on or before April 11, 2018. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 3/28/2018. (lcrc3)

March 28, 2018

March 28, 2018

PACER
7

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 04/11/2018)

April 11, 2018

April 11, 2018

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 7 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a joint status report on April 27, 2018 describing the status of Defendant's searches. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 4/12/2018. (lcrc3)

April 12, 2018

April 12, 2018

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 4/27/2018 (tj)

April 13, 2018

April 13, 2018

PACER
8

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 04/26/2018)

April 26, 2018

April 26, 2018

PACER
9

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 05/15/2018)

May 15, 2018

May 15, 2018

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the 9 the parties' joint status report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall submit another joint status report on June 25, 2018, and every 60 days thereafter until the government's production is complete. It is FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall submit a proposed briefing schedule within 30 days after the government's final production. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on May 16, 2018. (lcrc3)

May 16, 2018

May 16, 2018

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 6/25/2018. (tj)

May 22, 2018

May 22, 2018

PACER
10

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 06/25/2018)

June 25, 2018

June 25, 2018

PACER
11

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 08/24/2018)

Aug. 24, 2018

Aug. 24, 2018

PACER
12

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 10/23/2018)

Oct. 23, 2018

Oct. 23, 2018

PACER
13

NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Paul Cirino on behalf of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Substituting for attorney Joshua M. Kolsky (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 12/17/2018)

Dec. 17, 2018

Dec. 17, 2018

PACER
14

Joint STATUS REPORT by DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION. (Grogg, Adam) (Entered: 12/24/2018)

Dec. 24, 2018

Dec. 24, 2018

PACER
15

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 02/22/2019)

Feb. 22, 2019

Feb. 22, 2019

PACER
16

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 03/21/2019)

March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019

PACER

.Order

March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 16 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on April 4, 2019. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on March 21, 2019. (lcrc3). Modified on 3/21/2019. (lcrc3)

March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

March 22, 2019

March 22, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 4/4/2019 (tj)

March 22, 2019

March 22, 2019

PACER
17

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 04/04/2019)

April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019

PACER

.Order

April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 17 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on April 18, 2019. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on April 4, 2019. (lcrc3)

April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 4/18/2019 (tj)

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

PACER
18

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 04/18/2019)

April 18, 2019

April 18, 2019

PACER

.Order

April 18, 2019

April 18, 2019

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 18 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on May 17, 2019. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on April 18, 2019. (lcrc3)

April 18, 2019

April 18, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

April 24, 2019

April 24, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 5/17/2019. (tj)

April 24, 2019

April 24, 2019

PACER
19

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 05/17/2019)

May 17, 2019

May 17, 2019

PACER

.Order

May 17, 2019

May 17, 2019

PACER

MINUTE ORDER granting 19 Joint Status Report and Proposed Schedule: It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall submit a further Joint Status Report on or before July 1, 2019. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on May 17, 2019. (lcrc3)

May 17, 2019

May 17, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

May 21, 2019

May 21, 2019

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 7/1/2019 (tj)

May 21, 2019

May 21, 2019

PACER
20

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 07/01/2019)

July 1, 2019

July 1, 2019

PACER

.Order

July 1, 2019

July 1, 2019

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 20 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file another Joint Status Report on or before July 15, 2019. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on July 1, 2019. (lcrc3)

July 1, 2019

July 1, 2019

PACER
21

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 07/15/2019)

July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019

PACER

.Order

July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 21 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a joint status report every 60 days informing the court of the status of this case. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on July 15, 2019. (lcrc3)

July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019

PACER
22

NOTICE of Appearance by Benjamin M. Seel on behalf of DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION (Seel, Benjamin) (Entered: 08/08/2019)

Aug. 8, 2019

Aug. 8, 2019

PACER
23

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 09/13/2019)

Sept. 13, 2019

Sept. 13, 2019

PACER
24

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 11/15/2019)

Nov. 15, 2019

Nov. 15, 2019

PACER
25

NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF APPEARANCE as to DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION. Attorney Javier M. Guzman terminated. (Guzman, Javier) (Entered: 11/26/2019)

Nov. 26, 2019

Nov. 26, 2019

PACER
26

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 01/14/2020)

Jan. 14, 2020

Jan. 14, 2020

PACER
27

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 03/16/2020)

March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020

PACER
28

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 04/17/2020)

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

RECAP

.Order

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 28 the parties' Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file another Joint Status Report on or before June 16, 2020. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 4/17/2020. (lcrc3)

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 6/16/2020 (tj)

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

PACER
29

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Cirino, Paul) (Entered: 06/16/2020)

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of 29 the parties' joint status report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall submit another joint status report on or before July 16, 2020. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 06/16/2020. (lcrc3)

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 7/16/2020. (tj)

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

PACER

.Order

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

PACER
30

Status Report

July 16, 2020

July 16, 2020

RECAP

.Order

July 16, 2020

July 16, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

July 17, 2020

July 17, 2020

PACER
31

Status Report

Aug. 5, 2020

Aug. 5, 2020

PACER

.Order

Aug. 5, 2020

Aug. 5, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

Aug. 6, 2020

Aug. 6, 2020

PACER
32

Status Report

Aug. 27, 2020

Aug. 27, 2020

PACER

.Order

Aug. 27, 2020

Aug. 27, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

Aug. 27, 2020

Aug. 27, 2020

PACER
33

Stipulation of Dismissal

Sept. 28, 2020

Sept. 28, 2020

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Immigration and/or the Border

Special Collection(s):

Trump Administration FOIA cases

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 20, 2018

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A nonprofit promoting transparency and accountability in government through public education

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

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

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: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students

Assault/abuse by staff

Conditions of confinement

Personal injury

Placement in detention facilities

Record-keeping

Records Disclosure

Sanitation / living conditions

Sexual abuse by residents/inmates

Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Medical care, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run

Non-government for profit

Immigration/Border:

Detention - conditions