Case: Electronic Privacy Information Center v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

1:18-cv-00545 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: March 8, 2018

Closed Date: May 12, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 8, 2018 the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act. The complaint alleged that the defendant had failed to respond to EPIC’s 2016 FOIA request for information about the Department’s use of drones in the United States for domestic surveillance. The plaintiff requested that the court order DHS to release the requested information…

On March 8, 2018 the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act. The complaint alleged that the defendant had failed to respond to EPIC’s 2016 FOIA request for information about the Department’s use of drones in the United States for domestic surveillance. The plaintiff requested that the court order DHS to release the requested information and pay appropriate attorneys fees. The case was assigned to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

DHS began searching its documents after the complaint, but a status report filed on May 9, 2019 by EPIC alleged that DHS was unnecessarily slowing down the search for documents. EPIC stated that DHS promised to complete the search for documents 45 days after the complaint, but once it failed, they kept moving the deadline for completing the search back 45 more days. EPIC added that an "error with its search tasker" prevented DHS from completing the search at the time of filing the status update. DHS acknowledged the error in a status report filed on the same day, but noted that many DHS component agencies had completed their searches and were beginning to disclose requested documents to EPIC.

In response to these status reports, Judge Jackson issued an order obligating DHS to complete its search by June 12, 2019 and setting a reviewing schedule of 300 pages per month by July 29, 2019. He issued this order on May 13.

In a June 17, 2019 status report, DHS said that its search was complete, but potentially relevant documents were still being uploaded to DHS servers. DHS wrote that this process should take a few days, but promised to adhere to the production schedule set in the May 13 order.

The case was reassigned to Judge Carl J. Nichols on June 24, 2019.

According to a March 9, 2020 status report, the parties had successfully completed document production without the need to go to the court to contest the withholding of any documents. The parties negotiated a private agreement on attorney fees later in the year, and submitted a stipulation of dismissal on May 12, 2020. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Sarah Reasoner (2/4/2019)

Ellen Aldin (6/23/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6329284/parties/electronic-privacy-information-center-v-us-department-of-homeland/


Judge(s)

Jackson, Ketanji Brown (District of Columbia)

Nichols, Carl John (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Butler, Alan (District of Columbia)

Rotenberg, Marc (District of Columbia)

Scott, Jeramie D. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Coles-Huff, Doris Denise (District of Columbia)

Liu, Jessie K. (District of Columbia)

Walker, Johnny Hillary III (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Van Horn, Daniel F (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Jackson, Ketanji Brown (District of Columbia)

Nichols, Carl John (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Butler, Alan (District of Columbia)

Rotenberg, Marc (District of Columbia)

Scott, Jeramie D. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Coles-Huff, Doris Denise (District of Columbia)

Liu, Jessie K. (District of Columbia)

Walker, Johnny Hillary III (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Van Horn, Daniel F (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

May 12, 2020 Docket
1

Complaint

March 8, 2018 Complaint
23

Defendant's Status Report

May 8, 2019 Pleading / Motion / Brief
22

Status Report

May 8, 2019 Pleading / Motion / Brief
24

Order

May 13, 2019 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6329284/electronic-privacy-information-center-v-us-department-of-homeland/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5365740) filed by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, # 3 Summons Attorney General of the United States, # 4 Summons U.S. Department of Homeland Security)(Scott, Jeramie) (Entered: 03/08/2018)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

2 Summons U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

View on PACER

3 Summons Attorney General of the United States

View on PACER

4 Summons U.S. Department of Homeland Security

View on PACER

March 8, 2018 RECAP
2

Corporate Disclosure Statement by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Scott, Jeramie) (Entered: 03/08/2018)

March 8, 2018 PACER

Case Assigned to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. (zsb)

March 14, 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)(zsb) (Entered: 03/14/2018)

1 Notice and Consent

View on PACER

March 14, 2018 PACER
4

NOTICE of Appearance by Marc Rotenberg on behalf of ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER (Rotenberg, Marc) (Entered: 03/14/2018)

March 14, 2018 PACER
5

GENERAL ORDER AND GUIDELINES FOR CIVIL CASES BEFORE JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON. The Court will hold the parties and counsel responsible for following these directives, and parties and counsel should pay particular attention to the Courts instructions for briefing motions and filing exhibits. Failure to adhere to this Order may, when appropriate, result the imposition of sanctions and/or sua sponte denial of non-conforming motions. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 3/16/2018. (lckbj1) (Entered: 03/16/2018)

March 16, 2018 PACER
6

NOTICE of Appearance by Johnny Hillary Walker, III on behalf of All Defendants (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 03/29/2018)

March 29, 2018 PACER
7

RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 3/28/2018. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 4/27/2018. (Scott, Jeramie) (Entered: 04/11/2018)

April 11, 2018 PACER
8

RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 03/28/2018. (Scott, Jeramie) (Entered: 04/11/2018)

April 11, 2018 PACER
9

RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY served on 3/27/2018 (Scott, Jeramie) (Entered: 04/11/2018)

April 11, 2018 PACER
10

ANSWER to Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 04/27/2018)

April 27, 2018 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. Before the Court in this FOIA case are a complaint and an answer. It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall promptly confer and file a joint proposed schedule for briefing or disclosure, on or before 5/16/2018. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 05/02/2018. (lckbj1)

May 2, 2018 PACER
11

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 05/16/2018)

May 16, 2018 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations made in the parties' 11 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 6/15/2018. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 05/21/2018. (lckbj1)

May 21, 2018 PACER
12

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 06/15/2018)

June 15, 2018 PACER
13

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations in the parties' 12 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 7/30/2018, which shall contain a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 06/19/2018. (lckbj1) (Entered: 06/19/2018)

June 19, 2018 PACER
14

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 07/30/2018)

July 30, 2018 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations in the parties' 14 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 9/13/2018, which shall include a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 7/31/2018. (lckbj1)

July 31, 2018 PACER
15

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 09/13/2018)

Sept. 13, 2018 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations in the parties' 15 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 11/13/2018, which shall include a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 9/18/2018. (lckbj1)

Sept. 18, 2018 PACER
16

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 11/13/2018)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Nov. 13, 2018 RECAP

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations in the parties' 16 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 1/4/2019, which shall include a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 11/19/2018. (lckbj1)

Nov. 19, 2018 PACER
17

MOTION to Stay by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Coles-Huff, Doris) (Entered: 12/28/2018)

Dec. 28, 2018 RECAP

MINUTE ORDER granting 17 Consent Motion to Stay in light of lapse of appropriations. For good cause shown, it is hereby ORDERED that this case is STAYED. Counsel for Defendant shall notify the Court as soon as Congress has appropriated funds; at that point, the Court will enter an order resetting the applicable deadlines, which will be extended day-for-day with the duration of the lapse in appropriations. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 12/28/2018. (lckbj3)

Dec. 28, 2018 PACER
18

NOTICE of Restored Funding by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY re Order on Motion to Stay, (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 01/29/2019)

Jan. 29, 2019 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. Defendant has provided notice that that an appropriations act providing funding to the Department of Justice for a three-week period of time was enacted on January 25, 2019 (ECF No. 18 .) Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that the stay in this matter is lifted, and that on or before 2/8/2019, the parties shall file a joint status report, which shall include a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 1/29/2019. (lckbj1)

Jan. 29, 2019 PACER
19

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 02/08/2019)

Feb. 8, 2019 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations in the parties' 19 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 3/25/2019, which shall include a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 2/11/2019. (lckbj1)

Feb. 11, 2019 PACER
20

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 03/25/2019)

March 25, 2019 PACER

~Util - Set/Reset Deadlines

April 3, 2019 PACER

.Order

April 3, 2019 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations in the parties' 20 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 4/8/2019, which shall include a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 4/3/2019. (lckbj1)

April 3, 2019 PACER
21

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 04/08/2019)

April 8, 2019 PACER

~Util - Set/Reset Deadlines

April 11, 2019 PACER

.Order

April 11, 2019 PACER

MINUTE ORDER. In light of the representations in the parties' 21 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a further joint status report on or before 5/8/2019, which shall include a proposed schedule for further proceedings if litigation is going to be necessary. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 4/11/2019. (lckbj1)

April 11, 2019 PACER
22

STATUS REPORT by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Scott, Jeramie) (Entered: 05/08/2019)

May 8, 2019 PACER
23

STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 05/08/2019)

May 8, 2019 PACER
24

.Order

May 13, 2019 PACER
25

Status Report

June 18, 2019 PACER

Case Assigned/Reassigned

June 24, 2019 PACER
26

Status Report

Aug. 1, 2019 PACER

.Order

Aug. 2, 2019 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

Aug. 2, 2019 PACER
27

Status Report

Aug. 30, 2019 PACER

.Order

Sept. 3, 2019 PACER
28

Notice of Appearance

Sept. 5, 2019 PACER
29

Notice of Change of Address

Sept. 5, 2019 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings

Sept. 5, 2019 PACER
30

Status Report

Oct. 29, 2019 PACER

.Order

Oct. 31, 2019 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings

Oct. 31, 2019 PACER
31

Status Report

Nov. 13, 2019 PACER

.Order

Nov. 18, 2019 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines

Nov. 18, 2019 PACER
32

Status Report

Jan. 13, 2020 PACER

.Order

Jan. 14, 2020 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings

Jan. 15, 2020 PACER
33

Status Report

Feb. 3, 2020 PACER

.Order

Feb. 4, 2020 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings

Feb. 4, 2020 PACER
34

Status Report

March 2, 2020 PACER

.Order

March 8, 2020 PACER
35

Status Report

March 9, 2020 PACER

.Order

May 11, 2020 PACER

.Order

March 10, 2020 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings

March 13, 2020 PACER
39

Stipulation of Dismissal

May 12, 2020 RECAP
36

Status Report

April 8, 2020 PACER

.Order

April 9, 2020 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings

April 9, 2020 PACER
37

Notice of Withdrawal of Appearance

April 29, 2020 PACER
38

Status Report

May 8, 2020 PACER

.Order

May 11, 2020 PACER
39

Stipulation of Dismissal

May 12, 2020 RECAP

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

National Security

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 8, 2018

Closing Date: May 12, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interest research organization in Washington, DC dedicated to privacy issues.

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

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: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: undisclosed

Issues

General:

Records Disclosure

Type of Facility:

Government-run