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Sep 25, 2023

USPTO properly redacted info in responsive documents

Where the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, redacted confidential, sensitive and privileged information from bar disciplinary hearings before producing the documents to an expelled attorney, it prevailed in a suit challenging the redactions. Background Richard Polidi, an attorney who had been expelled from the patent bar, submitted a request for documents to […]

Jul 25, 2023

SEC’s search for documents was inadequate

Where the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, limited the scope of its search in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, its search was inadequate. Background On Aug. 13, 2021, the SEC received a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request from Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research. Generally, the requests sought information […]

Apr 3, 2023

Search for responsive records request was adequate

Where the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, submitted a declaration explaining the methodology of and rationale behind its search process, indicating the types of searches performed, listing the various locations searched and specifying the search terms used, the court found that the searches were reasonably calculated to find records responsive to a […]

Mar 4, 2021

Disclosure ordered for employees’ petition

Where plaintiff seeks documents from defendant municipality under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, an employee petition to the personnel committee to discuss complaints and concerns about the town manager is not exempt from disclosure. Background Hawkins sought mandamus relief to compel the town of South Hill to provide documents he requested under the VFOIA. […]

Jan 29, 2021

Requester exhausted remedies before filing suit 

Where a plaintiff’s initial complaint challenging the government’s response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act was filed more than 20 business days after the request was made, the administrative remedies were exhausted. Background Ayyakkanu Manivannan filed a complaint pursuant to FOIA against the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, or NETL, alleging [[...]

Jan 15, 2021

In camera review doesn’t back deliberate process claim

Although the Council on Environmental Quality, or CEQ, claimed the production of dozens of unredacted documents would chill speech, stifle “frank and open discussions” and confuse the public, an in camera review did not support these assertions. Background Southern Environmental Law Center, or SELC, filed this action against the CEQ Nov. 30, 2018, seeking to […]

Jul 20, 2020

Closed session did not violate FOIA

A town council complied with the Freedom of Information Act when it went into closed session to discuss personnel matters. Overview Plaintiff Hart has filed a complaint raising three issues regarding the town council’s compliance with FOIA in relation to calling a special meeting and then going into a closed session on personnel matters. Plaintiff […]

Jun 4, 2020

Closed sessions to discuss library closure violated VFOIA

A county board of supervisors violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act by improperly going into closed sessions, and by discussing matters than went beyond the scope of the stated reason for going into closed sessions. Background The Smyth-Bland Regional Library had a nine-member board of trustees. The Smyth County Board of Supervisors appointed seven […]

Jun 4, 2020

Late release of database system information violated VFOIA

Where plaintiff reporter sought information concerning a database system from defendant corrections department, the request was “reasonably specific.” Defendant’s late response violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Overview Plaintiff Harki wrote a series of articles for the Virginian-Pilot about a Virginia Department of Corrections policy regarding strip searches of inmates’ vi[...]

Mar 23, 2020

County board’s closed sessions violated FOIA

Where a county Board of Supervisors met in closed session and discussed the contents of an ad to replace the county attorney, and also discussed alternatives to the current county attorney set up, the board violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. This discussion, and any decision on the criteria for employment, should have been […]

Feb 17, 2020

Legal group has standing for FOI claim

Where the Southern Environmental Law Center pleaded that policies and practices of the Department of the Interi­or were being used to violate the Freedom of Information Act, and that it was being injured by those policies, it had standing to move to enjoin application of the al­legedly unlawful policies. Background SELC filed this action under […]

Nov 20, 2019

Documents denied despite delay in response

Although the Council on Environmental Quality did not respond to the Southern Environmental Law Center’s FOIA request within the 20 days required by statute, the delay, by itself, does not entitle the center to the documents. Moreover, because the agency argued some of the requested documents may be exempt under FOIA, the center’s motion seeking disclosure […]

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