Judge Orders DHS to Respond More Quickly to Muslim Group’s FOIA Request
Our Pro Bono Commitment
Jenner & Block Associate Joshua M. Parker and Partner Kelly M. Morrison are mentioned in a Law360 article about the latest development in a Freedom of Information Act request. The team represents a public interest group called Muslim Advocates on a pro bono basis. The group seeks information under FOIA related to allegedly discriminatory policies targeting Muslims for searches following the Trump administration’s immigration ban. According to the article, titled “DHS Must Speed Up Travel-Ban Doc Production, Judge Says,” at a status conference convened at the request of Muslim Advocates, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ordered the DHS and CBP to “pick up the pace” on its productions in response to Muslim Advocates’ FOIA request. The judge shot down the CBP’s proposed cap of 250 incident reports, instead ordering that CBP produce the 1,800 incident reports Muslim Advocates requested, and to do so at a faster pace than CBP offered to do.
Team Argues for Release of Documents Related to Travel Ban
Jenner & Block Partner Kelly M. Morrison and Associate Joshua M. Parker are mentioned in a Law360 article about their lawsuit on behalf of the public interest group Muslim Advocates. Titled “Judge Frustrated with DHS Response to Travel Ban FOIA,” the article explains that the group seeks information under FOIA related to allegedly discriminatory policies targeting Muslims for searches following the Trump administration’s immigration ban. At a recent status conference, Judge Chutkan of the District Court for the District of Columbia deemed the government’s lack of responsiveness to Muslim Advocates’ request “unacceptable.” Mr. Parker is quoted arguing that Muslim Advocates seeks far less than the government’s claim of some 70,000 pages of potentially responsive documents. He also is quoted saying that Muslim Advocates has agreed to limit the search parameters, but the government continues to insist that it faces an undue burden without substantiation. The team is representing Muslim Advocates on a pro bono basis.
Second Circuit Rules in Favor of Firm’s Investigative Journalist Client Seeking DEA Video
A Jenner & Block team secured an important appellate win in a long-running pro bono Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) matter.
In August 2012, investigative journalist Mattathias Schwartz filed a FOIA request with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), seeking video footage of a May 2012 DEA operation in rural Honduras that resulted in the shooting deaths of four Honduran civilians. The DEA refused to release the video, claiming it was exempt from disclosure under FOIA because it would reveal law enforcement “techniques or procedures.”
In September 2013, a firm team filed suit against the DEA on behalf of Mr. Schwartz, and in January 2016 – after multiple rounds of briefing, two rounds of oral argument, numerous additional submissions, and in camera review of the video – Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the Eastern District of New York granted summary judgment in Mr. Schwartz’s favor and directed the DEA to release the video to him. The DEA appealed.
On April 6, 2017, Associate Carl N. Wedoff presented oral argument to the Second Circuit, and on June 6, the appellate court affirmed the district court. It concluded that the alleged law enforcement techniques and procedures DEA relied on to withhold the video (i) are disclosed in publicly available materials, (ii) are not disclosed by the video, or (iii) are not law enforcement techniques or procedures at all, but rather are only the circumstances in which publicly known techniques and procedures were employed.
In addition to Mr. Wedoff, the team consisted of Partner Brian J. Fischer, Associate Brittany R. Lamb and Summer Associate Alexandra Bursak, with help from Law Clerk Nicole Taykhman, Paralegal Amanda E. Factor and New York Office Managing Clerk Na’eem A. Conway.