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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name ACLU v. U.S. Department of Justice NS-NY-0015
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-07347-GHW ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) National Security
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On October 17, 2013, the ACLU filed this lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552) (FOIA). The suit requested an injunction requiring the DOJ to ... read more >
On October 17, 2013, the ACLU filed this lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552) (FOIA). The suit requested an injunction requiring the DOJ to disclose records regarding DOJ's policy on giving notice to criminal defendants against whom it intends to use evidence obtained from warrantless surveillance, including information obtained under surveillance orders authorized by Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

After the suit commenced, the DOJ began processing parts of the ACLU's initial FOIA request. The DOJ found several responsive documents, but withheld them, citing FOIA's Exemption 5, which allows the government to decline to disclose "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5). The ACLU responded by challenging the adequacy of the scope of the DOJ's search as well as the application of Exemption 5 to the documents in question. Both parties then filed cross motions for summary judgment.

On March 3, 2015, the District Court (Judge Gregory H. Woods) ruled on the motions for summary judgment, holding that the ACLU's motion was granted with respect to the scope of DOJ's search, and that the DOJ's motion was granted with respect to the applicability of Exemption 5 to the documents that had already been found. The court ordered the DOJ to conduct a new search for documents including "legal memoranda or opinions addressing or interpreting the [FISA Amendment Act's] notice provisions or requirements, as set forth in 50 U.S.C. § 1181e(a) and § 1806(c)." The order required the DOJ to search for any relevant documents without limiting the search to "governing" documents, and to release any responsive documents that didn't fall under a FOIA exemption. Because the granted motions for summary judgment disposed of all issues in the case, the court also ordered the case closed.

On March 5, 2015, the court issued an order reopening the case in order to allow the parties to litigate the issue regarding the search for responsive documents in United States Attorney's Offices that hadn't previously been searched. On November 23, 2015, the DOJ filed a motion for summary judgement on the adequacy of their second search, and claiming that the additional documents found were also entitled to FOIA's Exemption 5 protection. On December 23, 2015 the ACLU filed a cross-motion for summary judgement, challenging the DOJ's motion.

On September 27, 2016 the District Court (Judge Gregory H. Woods) ruled on the motions for summary judgment, holding that the DOJ's motion was granted on the adequacy of their search and that the DOJ's motion was granted in regards to the additional documents, with the exception of one document. The ACLU's motion was denied in part and granted in reference to one of the documents, with the court finding that the DOJ did not provide sufficient information detailing why that document was due protection. The court directed the DOJ to submit revised submissions addressing the document in question and directed them to file a renewed motion for partial summary judgement no later than November 14, 2016.

As of October 6, 2016, the case is still ongoing.

Ian Williams - 10/06/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Records Disclosure
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) United States
Plaintiff Description ACLU National
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
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)
1:13−cv−07347−GHW (S.D.N.Y.) 09/27/2016
NS-NY-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive Relief 10/17/2013
NS-NY-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 03/03/2015 (90 F.Supp.3d 201) (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0015-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 09/27/2016 (2016 WL 5394738) (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0015-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Woods, Gregory Howard III (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0015-0002 | NS-NY-0015-0003 | NS-NY-0015-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
NS-NY-0015-0001 | NS-NY-0015-9000
Eisenberg, Arthur (New York)
NS-NY-0015-0001
Jaffer, Jameel (New York)
NS-NY-0015-0001 | NS-NY-0015-9000
Kaufman, Brett Max (New York)
NS-NY-0015-0001 | NS-NY-0015-9000
Toomey, Patrick Christopher (New York)
NS-NY-0015-0001 | NS-NY-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Torrance, Benjamin H. (New York)
NS-NY-0015-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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