Am. Immigration Lawyers Ass'n v. EOIR, No. 13-00840, 2017 WL 5564548 (D.D.C. Nov. 17, 2017) (Cooper, J.)
Re: Request for all complaints filed against immigration judges employed by EOIR and records reflecting the resolution of those complaints for 2009 through November 2012
Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment
Exemption 6: "After reviewing the revised Vaughn index and the declarations filed by both parties, the Court holds that the withholding of 20 judges' names is proper under Exemption 6, but that the withholding of the other 14 judges' names is not and thus those names must be disclosed." The court relates that previously "[t]he Court held that EOIR's blanket withholding was justified because the incremental public interest in knowing the judges' identities did not outweigh the privacy interests of the judges given their status as non-supervisory civil servants." "[Plaintiff] appealed, and the D.C. Circuit reversed . . . reason[ing] that EOIR could not defend its withholding with such sweeping categorization." "[T]he panel concluded that EOIR needed to provide a 'particularized showing' for individual judges or categories of judges to justify withholding under Exemption 6." The court notes that, now, "[plaintiff] has narrowed the scope of this case to 34 of the original 201 immigration judges who had disciplinary records responsive to its FOIA request." "EOIR has [now] provided an explanation for withholding each individual judge's name rather than a blanket justification." "Since [plaintiff] does not argue that EOIR has failed to perform the particularized analysis required by the D.C. Circuit in AILA II, . . . all that remains for the Court to determine is whether the withholding of each judge's name is justified under Exemption 6." "On the whole, the Court believes that the balancing of public interests and privacy interests typically weighs towards disclosure in 'the case of a sitting judge with a substantial number of serious and substantiated complaints,' . . . and against disclosure in the case of a retired judge with a small number of substantiated complaints." Based on this overarching rule, the court proceeds to consider each judge's scenario and make a conclusion as to whether Exemption 6 applies.