The Fairfield Sun Times has this on a lawsuit against the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management for its failure to respond to FOIA requests as well as a broader law suit on the substantive issues of the FOIA requests.
Courthouse News has this on the D.C. Circuits clarification of what can actually be withheld concerning Pen Registers pursuant to Exemption 3 of the FOIA. The Court ruled that only the actual pen register order may be withheld pursuant to Exemption 3 of the FOIA - the FBI had attempted to withhold information about the pen register under the Exemption as well as the order itself.
Politico has this on the D.C. Court of Appeals decision concerning a case brought for records on Immigration Judges. The agency had made a blanket exemption on the names of Immigration Judges accused of misconduct and had redacted parts of responsive records because those parts of the records were considered not to be responsive to the request. Briefly, the Court found that while the names of the judges may properly be withheld in some cases, there is no across the board blanket exemption allowing for the redaction of the names. In other words, the agency will have to go through the privacy interest/public interest balancing test and if in litigation, will have to document its findings. Further, the court said that records found to be responsive needed to be processed under the FOIA, that certain parts of the records believed to be outside the scope of the response could not be redacted for that reason. In other words, they either need to be released or have one of the nine FOIA exemptions applied to them.
Politico reports that the State Department's request for 27 months to complete processing FOIA requests was denied by a federal judge in the District of Columbia; instead they have four months to finish the processing.
The FOIA requires requests to be processed in 20 working days. If that isn't met, and the case goes to Court, an agency can seek a stay under existing case law but must show that it is exercising due diligence in attacking its backlog of existing FOIA requests. In this case, according to the article, the State Department's own statistics showed a decrease in resources dedicated to FOIA processing. In order to receive extensions in the future, State must revamp the ways it runs FOIA Operations to demonstrate an increase in resources it puts toward FOIA processing.
ProPublica, which conducts journalism in the public interest and uses FOIA and other transparency laws more than most national media ventures has this summary of roadblocks its writers have encountered with gaining access to records.
The Sixth Circuit has joined all other federal circuits that have ruled on the issue of whether mug shots taken by the federal government need to be released via FOIA requests and decided that the privacy of the individual overrides any public interest in the photo. The Detroit Free Press brought the case and has more here.
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that emails maintained on private email accounts can still be subject to FOIA - the Washington Post has more on the decision.
This is an evolving issue that arises when government officials do official government business on private emails. The issue has arisen for over the past decade and has spanned multiple presidential administrations.
The way to stop this from happening in the first place is strong Record Management policies including training of ALL agency officials, hopefully on their first day in office. Knowledge of the proper way to retain records, including the use of email, will cause many problems to not occur in the first place as well as increase transparency in the government.