University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Human Rights Watch v. Drug Enforcement Administration NS-CA-0016
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-02573 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) National Security
Case Summary
On April 7, 2015, Human Rights Watch ("HRW"), a non-partisan, non-profit human rights organization, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff sued under the Administrative Procedures Act against the Drug Enforcement Administration and the ... read more >
On April 7, 2015, Human Rights Watch ("HRW"), a non-partisan, non-profit human rights organization, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff sued under the Administrative Procedures Act against the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The plaintiff, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief claiming that a mass surveillance program conducted by the DEA violated the HRW and its staff's First Amendment free speech and free association rights as well as their Fourth Amendment right to be free unreasonable searches and seizures.

Specifically, HRW alleged that the DEA had been engaged in a secret mass surveillance program since as early as the 1990s. HRW noted that the DEA acknowledged the existence of this program in a declaration filed in January 2015 for a separate case (included as an exhibit in HRW's complaint). According to HRW, the surveillance program indiscriminately swept in call records for calls between the United States and "Designated Countries" that are "determined to have a 'demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.' " HRW alleged that these call records were recorded in databases, which were then made accessible to the officers and employees of the DEA, DHS, and FBI. HRW claimed that during the course of its work, it communicated with individuals in Designated Countries, and that the surveillance program put HRW's contacts at risk and burdened HRW's human rights advocacy efforts. HRW alleged that the defendants violated its First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights, and requested declaratory and injunctive relief and reasonable attorneys' fees.

On June 15, 2015, the defendants, represented by an attorney from the Department of Justice, moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that HRW failed to establish that it has standing to pursue its claims. On August 14, 2015, U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez issued an order holding in abeyance ruling on the defendants' motion. Judge Gutierrez determined that HRW should be allowed an opportunity to conduct discovery to respond to the defendants' attack on standing, and authorized HRW to serve a limited number of interrogatories on the defendants by September 11, 2015, with responses from the defendants due October 13, 2015.

This case is still ongoing in the District Court.

John He - 09/26/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Record-keeping
Watchlist
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Drug Enforcement Administration
Plaintiff Description International human rights organization.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Links Guest Post: New Resource — Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse FISA Archives
Just Security
Posted: Jun. 26, 2014
By: Margo Schlanger
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:15-cv-02573 (C.D. Cal.) 08/14/2015
NS-CA-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 04/07/2015
NS-CA-0016-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Holding in Abeyance Ruling on the Motion to Dismiss and Granting in Part Plaintiff’s Request for Discovery 08/14/2015 (C.D. Cal.)
NS-CA-0016-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Gutierrez, Philip S. (C.D. Cal.)
NS-CA-0016-0002 | NS-CA-0016-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cardozo, Nathan (California)
NS-CA-0016-0001 | NS-CA-0016-9000
Crocker, Andrew (California)
NS-CA-0016-9000
Fakhoury, Hanni Meena (California)
NS-CA-0016-0001 | NS-CA-0016-9000
Greene, David Allen (California)
NS-CA-0016-0001 | NS-CA-0016-9000
Opsahl, Kurt Bradford (California)
NS-CA-0016-0001 | NS-CA-0016-9000
Rumold, Mark Thomas (California)
NS-CA-0016-0001 | NS-CA-0016-9000
Tien, Lee (California)
NS-CA-0016-0001 | NS-CA-0016-9000
Williams, Jamie (California)
NS-CA-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Wyer, Kathryn L. (District of Columbia)
NS-CA-0016-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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