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Case Name Poitras v. Department of Homeland Security NS-DC-0099
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-01091 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Case Summary
On July 13, 2015, a documentary film-maker and journalist who focuses on post-9/11 United States filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Plaintiff alleged that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department ... read more >
On July 13, 2015, a documentary film-maker and journalist who focuses on post-9/11 United States filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Plaintiff alleged that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (Defendants) improperly withheld documents requested under FOIA relating to the systematic, targeted treatment experienced by Plaintiff in airport security between 2006 and 2012.

During this time period, Plaintiff claims to have been detained and questioned on every re-entrance into the U.S. after traveling internationally. Plaintiff was additionally subjected to Secondary Security Screening Selection (increased security selection) on some domestic flights. Plaintiff alleges that the treatment stems from Plaintiff's journalistic and documentary work, which documents and examines U.S. security and military conduct post-9/11. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that pattern of airport detainment, questioning, and increased security screening began with Plaintiff's promotion of the documentary "My Country, My Country" (2006) in July 2006 and continued until a fellow journalist reported on the repeated detainments in April 2012. The documentary is about the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

On January 24, 2014, Plaintiff filed FOIA requests with the Defendants and constituent agencies requesting all agency records pertaining to Plaintiff. When Defendants did not comply, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit to compel response to the FOIA requests.

On July 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit for injunctive relief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking compliance with Plaintiff's earlier FOIA requests. Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson was assigned the case.

After about a year of various preliminary motions and time extensions, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in June 2016. Plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment in August 2016.

On March 21, 2017, the Court denied without prejudice Plaintiff's cross motion and granted in part and denied in part without prejudice Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The Court found that general declarations about categories of withholdings
in support of Defendants' invoked FOIA exemptions were insufficient to allow the Court to determine whether such exemptions were properly invoked. Because of this, the Court ordered the parties file a proposed schedule with due dates for (1) a Vaughn Index of the FBI's withholdings and (2) renewed motions for summary judgment for remaining issues.

On April 25, 2017, the parties submit a a new proposed briefing schedule, which was approved on May 10, 2017. On July 24, 2017, Defendants filed their second motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed her second cross motion on August 21, 2017. The briefing schedule was temporarily suspended on September 18, 2017 after Defendant FBI identified additional documents that were unintentionally withheld and Plaintiff needed to review those records to determine any challenges against the new FBI withholdings. A new briefing schedule was adopted in October.

On October 24, 2017, the case was reassigned to Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell.

The case is ongoing. The docket was last updated on February 15, 2018, when Plaintiff filed a reply to opposition of her cross motion for summary judgment.

Ian Sander - 11/28/2016
Cade Boland - 03/13/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
General
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Watchlist
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. ยง 552
Defendant(s) Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description American documentary film-maker and journalist.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:15-cv-1091 (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0099-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
NS-DC-0099-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motions for Summary Judgment Without Prejudice and Requiring Submission of a Vaughn Index [ECF# 22] (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0099-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Howell, Beryl Alaine (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0099-9000
Jackson, Ketanji Brown (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0099-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cardozo, Nathan (California)
NS-DC-0099-0001
Lynch, Jennifer (California)
NS-DC-0099-0001
Sobel, David L. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0099-0001 | NS-DC-0099-9000
Williams, Jamie (California)
NS-DC-0099-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Singer, Samuel M (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0099-9000

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