University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Leopold v. National Security Agency NS-DC-0090
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-00805-TSC ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Case Summary
On May 14, 2014, the plaintiff, a freelance investigative reporter, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff sued the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiff, ... read more >
On May 14, 2014, the plaintiff, a freelance investigative reporter, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff sued the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, alleged that the defendants violated the Freedom of Information Act by improperly withholding records concerning the NSA's collection of metadata of judges within the federal judiciary, failing to conduct an adequate search for such records, and failing to grant his requests for a fee waiver. The plaintiff sought both injunctive relief and damages.

On September 26, 2014, the DOJ and NSA moved for summary judgment. On July 31, 2015, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan granted in part and denied in part defendants' motion for summary judgment. She held that while the defendants made a good faith effort search both their facilities and records systems for the requested information, they "failed to conduct an adequate search and adequately explain the basis of their search in certain limited respects." Judge Chutkan ordered them to search again through NSA directives and the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel's draft legal memoranda. Thus, there were still material issues of fact. 118 F. Supp. 3d 302 (D.D.C. 2014).

The defendants completed the new searches and subsequently moved again for summary judgment on October 14, 2015. On July 11, 2016, Judge Chutkan denied the defendants' motion, holding that simply asking two senior attorneys in the Office of Legal Counsel whether they were "aware of any projects OLC projects concerning the propriety of surveilling federal or state judges" did not provide a reasonable basis for concluding that OLC was unlikely to possess responsive records. Judge Chutkan further held that the defendants did not establish that it would be unduly burdensome for them to search the emails of departing OLC attorneys for any draft memoranda or opinions concerning such surveillance program.

Judge Chutkan directed the parties to submit another status report and scheduling order by October 11, 2016. The litigation is ongoing.

Craig Streit - 10/03/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Records Disclosure
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) National Security Agency
U.S. Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff is a reporter who has written for a number of national publications but at the time the complaint was filed, was a contributor to Al-Jazeera America and an Editor-at-Large for The Public Record.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
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)
1:14-cv-00805-TSC (D.D.C.) 10/13/2016
NS-DC-0090-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 05/14/2014
NS-DC-0090-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinoin 07/11/2016 (2016 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 89282) (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0090-0003.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 07/31/2016 (118 F.Supp.3d 302) (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0090-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chutkan, Tanya Sue (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0090-0002 | NS-DC-0090-0003 | NS-DC-0090-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Light, Jeffrey Louis (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0090-0001 | NS-DC-0090-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Patton, Rodney (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0090-9000
Snead, Jacqueline E. Coleman (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0090-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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