January 13, 2016

Jenner & Block secured a victory for a pro bono client when a judge ordered the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to release a video that the client sought as an investigative journalist.   At issue was a video of a drug interdiction operation near Ahuas, Honduras in May 2012, in which four civilians were killed.  Client Mattathias Schwartz, a freelance journalist for the New Yorker, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the DEA to supply the video; the DEA claimed it was exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 7(E).  The parties cross-moved for summary judgment.  On January 8, 2016, Chief Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the Eastern District of New York issued an opinion directing the DEA to release the video to Mr. Schwartz.  The judge’s 46-page opinion said that the DEA failed to carry out its burden to show that the video should be withheld under Exemption 7(E).

The team representing Mr. Schwartz includes Associate Carl N. Wedoff, Partner Brian J. Fischer and law clerk Brittany R. Lamb.  Mr. Wedoff and Mr. Fischer were mentioned in a New York Law Journal article titled “Judge Approves Disclosure of Video From DEA-Honduran Drug Raid” (available to subscribers only), which detailed the opinion.