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Government Records

Mar 2021

D.C. Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of CIA on Syria Program FOIA Request

Jeffrey Light

The appellate court’s “who-knows-for-sure” standard is rhetorically striking and illustrates the virtually unbridled deference courts give to federal agencies in FOIA cases involving national security.

Mar 2021

Judge Orders Release Under FOIA of Report on Sexual Abuse of Children at Federal Health Agency

Matthew E. Kelley

In consolidated cases brought by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, a federal magistrate judge has ordered the federal government to make public a contractor’s report about mismanagement at the Indian Health Service that allowed a doctor to sexually abuse children for more than two decades.

Mar 2021

SCOTUS Sides with Fish & Wildlife Service in FOIA Battle

Gunita Singh

The Supreme Court held that opinions designated as drafts by an agency are protected from disclosure under Exemption 5 of the federal Freedom of Information Act, even when they serve as an agency’s last word on a proposed course of action.

Feb 2021

Second Circuit: New York Police, Fire Unions Can’t ‘Bargain Away’ Public Records Disclosure Obligations

Madeline Lamo

A three-judge panel ruled that allegations of misconduct against New York City’s police officers, firefighters and correctional officers could be released to the public.

Jan 2021

Searching a Database Isn’t “Creating” A Record

D. Victoria Baranetsky and Shawn Musgrave

Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting was successful in challenging the government’s withholding of firearms data under FOIA.

Nov 2019

Espionage Act Prosecutions Against the Press

A collection of resources discussing the legislative history and statutory interpretation of the Espionage Act, assorted First Amendment issues implicated in a prosecution of the press, particular defenses under criminal law, the history of the publication of government secrets in the United States, the historical application of the Act, and more.

Jan 2018

Access to Electronic or Digitized Records Held in Non-Governmental Containers

Steve Zansberg

The growing body of case law on this topic has formed a fairly strong consensus view: it is the content of the email (i.e. whether it is of a purely personal nature or discusses public business) not its location) that controls whether it is deemed a public record.

Aug 2017

Model Brief on Access to the Executive Branch

This Model Brief sets forth multiple constitutional arguments that could be made to obtain access to various activities of the executive branch.

May 2015