On August 10, 2007, attorneys and law student interns with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization of the Yale Law School, filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 ("FOIA"), in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, seeking to compel the release of government records regarding the immigration enforcement policies, practices, and activities of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement Division of the Department of Homeland Security ("ICE") in and around New Haven, Connecticut. Specifically, Plaintiffs sought the release of records relating to a June 6, 2007 immigration raid in New Haven, Connecticut, in which 29 individuals were arrested and detained. Plaintiffs alleged that the raid came on the heels of the approval of a municipal identification card program in New Haven. The Government filed an answer, generally denying Plaintiffs' allegations.
In April of 2008, the Government moved for summary judgment. During oral argument, the District Court (Judge Mark R. Kravitz) suggested he conduct an in camera review of certain categories of documents in dispute. In September of 2008, the Court issued its Ruling on Documents Submitted In Camera, holding that certain categories of documents containing individually identifiable information were properly withheld from disclosure, but that certain email documents were not exempt from disclosure. Unidad Latina En Acción v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 253 F.R.D. 44 (D. Conn. 2008). The Court instructed the parties to use this ruling as a guide for resolving similar disputes.
On December 9, 2008, the Court (Judge Kravitz) entered its ruling on the adequacy of the Government's search. The Court ordered the Government to submit an additional declaration detailing three discrete aspects of its search, but stated that once the Government did so, it would be inclined to grant summary judgment on the adequacy of the search. However, the Plaintiffs then moved for relief from the order, stating that the Government had included false statements in one of the declarations that the Court had relied upon. The Court subsequently granted the Plaintiffs' motion and allowed them to depose certain ICE FOIA officers on the adequacy of the Government's search. The Government also withdrew its summary judgment motion insofar as it pertained to the adequacy of the search.
On January 30, 2009, the Court (Judge Kravitz) ruled on its second in camera review based on a certain set of redactions in the Government's documents. The Court ordered that the redactions were appropriate where the individually identifiable information could be matched to individuals, but held it was inappropriate to withhold such information when it was already in the public domain. With this ruling, the Court denied the Government's summary judgment motion as moot, as it had now conducted two in camera reviews and the Government had withdrawn another aspect of its motion.
The Government then submitted a third round of documents for the Court's review, with the dispute now centered on the scope of Plaintiffs' FOIA request. On March 27, 2009, the Court entered a text order stating that, for reasons stated during oral argument, the Government had properly withheld certain documents but not others.
In late May 2009, following the depositions of the ICE FOIA officers, the parties had worked out an agreement regarding the adequacy of the Government's searches. By November, the parties stipulated that, with the exception of costs and attorneys fees, no further relief was being sought from the Court, and stipulated to dismiss the claims with prejudice. The Court entered judgment for Plaintiffs in part and for the Government in part. In January of 2010, the parties settled the outstanding issues of costs and attorneys' fees, with the Government agreeing to pay Plaintiffs' counsel $64,000.00. Dan Dalton - 02/26/2008
Dan Whitman - 10/15/2014