University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Department of Justice NS-DC-0079
Docket / Court 1:07-cv-00403-TFH ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Case Summary
On February 27, 2007, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed this individual lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff sued the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. The plaintiff, representing itself, ... read more >
On February 27, 2007, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed this individual lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff sued the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. The plaintiff, representing itself, sought injunctive and monetary relief, claiming that the defendant wrongfully withheld agency records requested by the plaintiff. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed the defendant withheld records concerning orders by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISC”) that allegedly authorized surveillance of international communications where there was a probable cause to believe one of the communicants is a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization, as referenced in a letter written by the then acting Attorney General dated January 17, 2007. Additionally, the plaintiff requested any related FISC rules and guidelines associated with such orders, as referenced by the then White House Press Secretary during a press briefing on January 17, 2007.

The defendants moved for summary judgment on May 11, 2007 on the grounds that the plaintiff’s requested material was exempted from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b) exemption 1, which exempts matters specifically authorized by an Executive order be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy, and exemption 3, which exempts records or information that could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.

On July 26, 2007, Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment on grounds that defendant sufficiently met burden of showing with reasonable specificity the above exemptions applied to the documents at issue. In the same opinion, Chief Judge Hogan denied plaintiff’s motion for an in camera review of the documents at issue as the court found the defendant’s declarations sufficient to conduct a de novo review and to verify the applicability of the asserted FOIA exemptions.

The plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration on August 8, 2007. The plaintiff claimed that an August 3, 2007 article in the Washington Post offered new evidence that supported a motion for in camera review, as the article suggested that the documents at issue may primarily constitute legal analyses, and therefore, the documents at issue would not need to be classified. This motion was denied by Chief Judge Hogan on January 29, 2008, as the court found that the details discussed within the August 3, 2007 article did not provide any new evidence relevant to the documents referenced in the January 17, 2007 letter or press briefing. The case is now closed. 532 F.Supp.2d 22.

Cade Boland - 09/28/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Confidentiality
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) Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Not-for-profit corporation that focuses on civil liberties issues related to technology, and to act as a defender of those liberties.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:07−cv−00403−TFH (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0079-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/29/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
NS-DC-0079-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/27/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 17] (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0079-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 23] (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0079-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/29/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hogan, Thomas Francis (D.D.C., FISC)
NS-DC-0079-0002 | NS-DC-0079-0003 | NS-DC-0079-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hofmann, Marcia (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0079-0001
Sobel, David L. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0079-0001 | NS-DC-0079-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Tumlin−Bhattacharyya, Tracy Rupa (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0079-9000

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