Case: Judicial Watch, Inc. v. United States DOJ

1:18-cv-01050 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: May 3, 2018

Closed Date: 2018

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requires the government to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) before it may conduct any domestic electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information. The warrant applications are made ex parte and must include a sworn statement by a federal officer of the facts and circumstances relied upon to justify the government's belief that the target of surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a f…

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requires the government to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) before it may conduct any domestic electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information. The warrant applications are made ex parte and must include a sworn statement by a federal officer of the facts and circumstances relied upon to justify the government's belief that the target of surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Once a FISC judge receives a warrant application, the judge can order approval of the surveillance only if the judge finds that there is probable cause to believe that the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Because the orders only authorize surveillance up to 90 days, the government must file an application for an extension that meets the same requirements as the initial warrant application and obtain a renewal order from the FISC for continued surveillance. For the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collection of FISA matters, see our special collection.

On January 29, 2018, during the Trump administration, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) voted to disclose a memorandum (the Nunes Memo) revealing existence of a FISA warrant for the electronic surveillance of Carter Page, who served as a onetime foreign policy advisor to the Trump Campaign until September 2016. The Nunes Memo was declassified by President Donald Trump on February 2, 2018. The Nunes Memo revealed that on October 21, 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) sought and received a probable cause order from the FISC authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page. The Nunes Memo further disclosed that in addition to the initial warrant application, the government had received three renewal orders from the FISC. The initial warrant application and the three renewal orders were eventually disclosed by the Department of Justice on July 21, 2018. See In re Carter W. Page, a U.S. Person, NS-DC-0127 in this Clearinghouse.

On May 3, 2018, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA complaint against the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking transcripts of any hearings related to Carter Page. The complaint alleged that Judicial Watch had submitted a FOIA request to the DOJ on February 16, 2018, but that as of May 3, 2018, the DOJ had failed to either produce the requested records or respond to them. On June 18, 2018, Judicial Watch received a letter from the DOJ stating that the DOJ did not have "any records responsive" to Judicial Watch's request. On August 30, 2018, the DOJ filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that the National Security Division (NSD), which maintains operational files regarding the FISC, "searched the locations likely to contain responsive records and reasonably determined that there are no responsive records." Furthermore, the DOJ maintained that its FOIA staff had consulted with subject matter experts in the Office of Intelligence who confirmed that, "as is typical in proceedings before the FISC, no hearings were held with respect to the acknowledged Carter Page FISA applications, and thus no responsive transcripts exist."

On September 24, 2018, in light of the fact that the DOJ did not have any responsive transcripts, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of this action with prejudice. The case is now closed. However, on July 25, 2018, after receiving the DOJ's letter, Judicial Watch filed a motion with the FISC for publication of all transcripts related to Carter Page. As of February 2019, there has been no other activity in this matter that has been publicly disclosed. See Misc. 18-03, NS-DC-0129 in this Clearinghouse.

Summary Authors

Lisa Limb (2/23/2019)

Related Cases

In re Carter W. Page: A U.S. Person [FISA dockets 16-1182, 17-52, 17-375, 17-679], Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (2016)

James Madison Project v. U.S. Department of Justice, District of Columbia (2017)

FISA Court Matters relating to disclosure of Carter Page surveillance records: Four FISC cases [FISC Misc. 18-01, Misc. 18-02, Misc. 18-03, and Misc. 19-01], Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (2018)

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Justice, District of Columbia (2018)

In re Accuracy Concerns Regarding FBI Matters Submitted to the FISC, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (2019)

Page v. Comey, District of Columbia (2020)

Judicial Watch, Inc.'s Motion for Publication of Court Transcripts [FISA Docket Misc. 18-03], Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (2018)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6384716/parties/judicial-watch-inc-v-us-department-of-justice/


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bekesha, Michael (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Powell, Amy E. (District of Columbia)

Readler, Chad Andrew (District of Columbia)

Shapiro, Elizabeth J. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bekesha, Michael (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Powell, Amy E. (District of Columbia)

Readler, Chad Andrew (District of Columbia)

Shapiro, Elizabeth J. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:18-cv-01050

Docket

Sept. 24, 2018

Sept. 24, 2018

Docket
1

1:18-cv-01050

Complaint

May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

Complaint

Letter from DOJ to William Marshall

No Court

June 18, 2018

June 18, 2018

Correspondence
8

1:18-cv-01050

Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Statement of Material Facts in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Aug. 30, 2018

Aug. 30, 2018

Pleading / Motion / Brief
9

1:18-cv-01050

Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice

Sept. 24, 2018

Sept. 24, 2018

Settlement Agreement

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6384716/judicial-watch-inc-v-us-department-of-justice/

Last updated June 9, 2022, 3:14 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5459834) filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons for U.S. Attorney for DC, # 3 Summons for U.S. Attorney General, # 4 Summons for U.S. Department of Justice)(Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 05/03/2018)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

2 Summons for U.S. Attorney for DC

View on PACER

3 Summons for U.S. Attorney General

View on PACER

4 Summons for U.S. Department of Justice

View on PACER

May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

RECAP
2

LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 05/03/2018)

May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

PACER

Case Assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson. (zsb)

May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

PACER
3

SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zsb) (Entered: 05/03/2018)

May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

PACER
4

RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 5/8/2018. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 6/7/2018.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 05/08/2018., RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE served on 5/8/2018 (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 05/11/2018)

May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018

PACER
5

NOTICE of Appearance by Amy E. Powell on behalf of All Defendants (Powell, Amy) (Entered: 06/04/2018)

June 4, 2018

June 4, 2018

PACER
6

ANSWER to Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Powell, Amy) (Entered: 06/07/2018)

June 7, 2018

June 7, 2018

PACER

MINUTE ORDER. Before the Court in this FOIA case are a complaint and an answer. The requirements of Local Civil Rule 16.3 and Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure appear to be inapplicable. Defendant shall file a dispositive motion or, in the alternative, a report setting forth the schedule for the completion of its production of documents to plaintiff, on or before July 9, 2018. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 06/11/2018. (lcabj3)

June 11, 2018

June 11, 2018

PACER
7

Joint STATUS REPORT by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Powell, Amy) (Entered: 06/29/2018)

June 29, 2018

June 29, 2018

PACER

MINUTE ORDER. Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be filed by August 30, 2018. Plaintiff's opposition, combined with any cross motion and supported by a single memorandum of points and authorities, shall be filed by September 27, 2018. Defendant's reply, combined with any cross-opposition and supported by a single memorandum of points and authorities, shall be filed by October 25, 2018. And plaintiff's cross-reply, if necessary, shall be filed by November 22, 2018. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 07/02/2018. (lcabj3)

July 2, 2018

July 2, 2018

PACER
8

MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Patrick N. Findlay)(Powell, Amy) (Entered: 08/30/2018)

Aug. 30, 2018

Aug. 30, 2018

PACER
9

STIPULATION of Dismissal with Prejudice by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Bekesha, Michael) (Entered: 09/24/2018)

Sept. 24, 2018

Sept. 24, 2018

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

National Security

Special Collection(s):

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

Trump Administration FOIA cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 3, 2018

Closing Date: 2018

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiff is Judicial Watch, Inc., a not-for-profit educational organization.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Department of Justice, Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

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

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Voluntary Dismissal

Issues

General:

Confidentiality

Record-keeping

Records Disclosure

Search policies

Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues