FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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March 31, 2015 11:58 AM

The State Department is fighting a journalist's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit demanding that the agency process for release a broad swath of email and other records produced by Hillary Clinton's aides during her four years as secretary of state.

The request Vice News reporter Jason Leopold filed in November initially sought all records of Clinton's office during her tenure, including all emails, as well as all records pertaining to meetings Clinton or any of her top aides attended during that time. After a Justice Department lawyer said that demand was too broad, Lepoold's lawyer agreed to limit the request to records relating to any of 60 topics, including Gaza, Guantanamo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, targeted assassinations, emails between Clinton and aide Philippe Reines and memos about the Freedom of Information Act itself.

However, the State Department is insisting that the request is still too burdensome. Continue>>>
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March 13, 2015 11:39 AM

The State Department is facing a barrage of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits following revelations that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private email address to conduct official business during her tenure as secretary of state.

The State Department was hit with two new lawsuits last week, with several more threatened. The possibility that the department improperly handled FOIA requests and lawsuits for Clinton’s records in the six years between her appointment as secretary of state and Monday’s disclosure has raised the possibility of a slew of litigation.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday for communications between Clinton and Nagla Mahmoud, the wife of the ousted Egyptian president, Mohammad Morsi. Continue>>>
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March 6, 2015 2:54 PM

A Kentucky federal judge on Tuesday booted Texas Roadhouse Inc.'s suit against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly failing to hand over documents related to its age discrimination case against the restaurant chain, saying the company must first exhaust its administrative remedies.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. granted the EEOC’s motion to dismiss without prejudice, finding the EEOC did, in fact, respond on Oct. 9 to Texas Roadhouse’s first three Freedom of Information Act requests — filed in July and August — aiming to dig up records behind the EEOC's 2011 age bias suit against Texas Roadhouse. The agency responded to the FOIA requests more than a week after Texas Roadhouse filed the instant suit alleging it hadn’t received a single page of the requested documents.

“Contrary to Texas Roadhouse assertions, the court finds that Texas Roadhouse did not challenge the adequacy of the EEOC’s belated production of documents in its amended complaint,” Judge McKinley said in the order. “Instead, Texas Roadhouse alleges in both the complaint and amended complaint that the EEOC ‘failed to provide either a determination regarding, or the documents responsive, to plaintiffs’ funds request.’” Continue>>>
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March 4, 2015 12:52 PM

Iowa District Court Judge Stuart Werling ruled Thursday in favor of Davenport in a Freedom of Information Act case.

Judge Werling said the city "substantially complied" with requests by Dr. Allen Diercks and Patricia Lane for public records related to work done by the accounting firm Deloitte and Touche LLC, from Dec. 12, 2012 to March 8, 2013.

Along with the city, the suit listed city administrator Craig Malin and Davenport deputy city clerk Jackie Holecek as co-defendants. Continue>>>
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March 4, 2015 12:51 PM

Gov. Susana Martinez has agreed to release monthly reports that detail the spending of security officers who travel with her, part of an agreement reached with The Associated Press in a public records case.

Under the settlement, the governor's attorneys agreed that the information in the procurement card reports relates to public business and falls under New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act.

The news organization sued the governor and administration agencies in 2013 for refusing to release records about her work and travel schedules, cellphone calls, and the expenses of her security detail. The parties filed papers Tuesday to dismiss the original lawsuit. continue>>>
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March 3, 2015 1:24 PM

The Beecher School District paid nearly $250,000 to avoid two lawsuits over alleged sexual misconduct by a former public school administrator.

But no lawsuit was ever filed, so taxpayers did not have easy access to this information because of a state law that allows public bodies to enter into non-disclosure clauses that bar either side from discussing specifics of a case.

The result is a Catch-22 that requires taxpayers to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a document they may not even know exists. Continue>>>
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February 25, 2015 1:00 AM

National Immigration Law Center and other legal aid and public interest groups filed a Freedom of Information Act suit Friday seeking access to records relating to worksite raids led by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement to uncover undocumented workers.

The center, along with Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, The Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center, Dolores Street Community Services and National Employment Law Project, allege that ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have failed to adequately comply with an April 12, 2012, written request seeking information regarding the ICE’s administration of its worksite enforcement strategy.

“Having exhausted all of their administrative remedies, plaintiffs are filing the present lawsuit to compel defendants’ compliance with FOIA and the production of the requested records in their entirety,” the lawsuit states. Continue>>>

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February 20, 2015 1:23 PM

A Saginaw County judge has approved a motion from the Michigan Attorney General's Office allowing the state agency to get involved in a case about the release of the names of approximately 100 Oakley Police Department reserve police officers.


Assistant Attorney General speaks in support of motion in Oakley reservist FOIA lawsuit
"Under the general village law act, there's no contemplation of phantom philanthropists who declare themselves as justified as serving as members of a general law village's police force," Assistant Attorney General John Szczubelek said during a Feb. 17 hearing in Saginaw County Circuit Court.
The Attorney General's Office, representing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, submitted the motion last week that states reservists do not meet standards published by MCOLES to be considered police officers under the village law act.

That means the reservists' names cannot be withheld under the law enforcement exemption of the Freedom of Information Act, Assistant Attorney General John F. Szczubelek said before Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Robert Kaczmarek on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Continue>>>
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February 19, 2015 1:13 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and a coalition of labor unions plan to drop a lawsuit over the temporary closure of the state Capitol in December 2012 while the Legislature took initial votes on Michigan’s right-to-work law.

The plaintiffs have decided not to appeal Court of Claims Judge Deborah Servitto’s recent ruling that there was nothing illegal about the Michigan State Police’s decision to lock the doors to the Capitol during debate on the controversial bills, said Dan Korobkin, deputy legal director for the ACLU of Michigan.

Servitto also ruled that the Legislature did not violate the Open Meetings Act when 36 Republican legislative aides were directed to sit in the 175-seat House gallery during debate on the bills, taking away potential seats from members of the public. Continue>>>
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ACLU, FOIA lawsuit, Michigan
February 17, 2015 2:11 AM

Legislators like to say they can’t legislate morality, although they keep trying, because they can.

The same can be said for open government. No matter how many laws are passed or how many court orders are issued, people in power will find shady spots in the “Sunshine” law, because they can.

There’s a lawsuit in Leon County Circuit Court, filed by a group of news organizations and open-government advocates, accusing Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet of breaking the “Government in the Sunshine” law in the Gerald Bailey firing. Basically, it says they used Cabinet aides as “conduits” to get the foul deed done, without public discussion of ousting the highly respected Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner. Continue>>>
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February 16, 2015 11:03 AM

Controversial professor Steven Salaita will be able to pursue his Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the University of Illinois for refusing to release documents about his case.

Champaign County Judge Chase Leonhard on Friday rejected the university's motion to dismiss the case, but he also agreed to strike portions of the complaint outlining the circumstances and fallout from the UI's decision to withdraw its job offer to Salaita.

"This is not a political arena" but a FOIA case, Leonhard said in issuing his order. "We're not here today on the merits of any claim." Continue>>>
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February 13, 2015 1:14 PM

Four senators have filed papers with a federal appeals court urging judges to force the government to divulge more about the rules it follows when it makes U.S. citizens the target of anti-terror drone strikes.

The filing Wednesday with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan supported arguments made in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The FOIA lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times. It has already forced the release of a heavily redacted 41-page memo. But other memos are sought. Continue>>>
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