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Case Name Leopold v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement IM-DC-0057
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-02415 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
National Security
Attorney Organization Loevy & Loevy
Case Summary
On October 22, 2018, media site Buzzfeed and one of its reporters brought this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and several of its components--Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Customs & Border Protection, and ... read more >
On October 22, 2018, media site Buzzfeed and one of its reporters brought this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and several of its components--Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Customs & Border Protection, and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. The case alleged violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Specifically, the plaintiffs had filed a FOIA request for unedited video, audio, and photographs of migrants and migrant children, and of children being separated from their parents and subsequently held in U.S. detention facilities. According to the complaint, the defendants had failed to provide an adequate response to the request. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs requested injunctive relief and attorney fees. The case was assigned to Judge Randolph D. Moss.

This case was interrupted by a 34-day government shutdown. The case was therefore stayed from December 30, 2018 to February 6, 2019, when the shutdown ended.

After the stay was lifted, the parties began submitting a series of joint status reports outlining their ongoing negotiations over the defendants’ search for responsive documents. On June 5, 2020, the parties reported that negotiations had become deadlocked, with the defendants still refusing to hand over the requested child detention records.

In response to the breakdown in negotiations, Judge Moss ordered the parties to submit short notices outlining the bases for any anticipated motions for summary judgement. On June 30, the defendants filed their notice, listing two anticipated arguments: first, that they argued that the plaintiffs’ FOIA request did not “reasonably describe” the records sought in a way that ICE could process without undue burden. Second, the defendants insisted that they had no responsive records depicting “migrant children being separated from their parents,” because ICE did not separate children and parents, but rather held “family units” together in “family residential centers.” A week later, the plaintiffs submitted their own notice. They argued that the defendants’ pre-motion filing ignored months of negotiations and concessions regarding the scope of their FOIA request, and that this request was no longer burdensome or unreasonably described, as they were now seeking only those records that should have been preserved in connection with five other federal lawsuits.

This case is still ongoing as of August 15, 2020. The defendants’ full motion for summary judgment is due on August 28, 2020 and the plaintiff’s response and cross motion is due on October 2, 2020.

Averyn Lee - 03/22/2019
Cody Wiles - 08/15/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Records Disclosure
Youth / Adult separation
Immigration/Border
Detention - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Public (for-profit) corporation
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
U.S. Customs & Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement
Plaintiff Description A Buzzfeed reporter and Buzzfeed seeking video, audio, and photographs of migrants and migrant children pursuant to FOIA
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Loevy & Loevy
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 10/22/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Case Title LEOPOLD et al v. U.S. IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT et al
http://foiaproject.org/case_detail/?title=on&style=foia&case_id=32088
Date: Oct. 22, 2018
By: The FOIA Project
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:18-cv-02415-RDM (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0057-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/31/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0057-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0057-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Schafer, Matthew (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0057-0001
Topic, Matthew Vincent (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0057-0001 | IM-DC-0057-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Braswell, Marina Utgoff (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0057-9000

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