Denial of FOIA Request for Complaints Against Immigration Judges Reversed
by Christopher Zoukis
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court’s order allowing across-the-board redactions by the government in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted a FOIA request to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), seeking disclosure of records concerning complaints against immigration judges and the resolutions of such complaints. Federal officials produced the records but redacted the names of the immigration judges and other information. The district court upheld the redactions.
On appeal, the D.C. Circuit held the across-the-board redactions of the names of immigration judges did not satisfy the government’s duty to respond, and remanded that issue for the district court to reconsider the application of certain FOIA exemptions. Further, the Court of Appeals found the DOJ’s redaction of the records on the basis that they were non-responsive to the FOIA request, when there was no statutory exemption authorizing such redactions, was improper.
However, the appellate court upheld the DOJ’s redaction of the complaint resolutions involving immigration judges because they were not final opinions or orders, and thus outside the government’s responsibility to disclose under FOIA. The case was reversed in part and affirmed in part. See: American Immigration Lawyers Association v. Executive Office for Immigration Review, 830 F.3d 667 (D.C. Cir. 2016).
Following remand, the DOJ produced records that it had previously refused to disclose because they were non-responsive to the FOIA request. The case remains pending.
Additional source: www.citizen.org
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Related legal case
American Immigration Lawyers Association v. Executive Office for Immigration Review
|Cite||830 F.3d 667 (D.C. Cir. 2016)|
|Level||Court of Appeals|
|Appeals Court Edition||F.3d|