Monday, January 27, 2014
Re: Request for records concerning FBI informant Disposition: Granting plaintiff’s motion to require defendant to process five thousand pages of records per month; denying defendant’s motion for an Open America stay
- Litigation Considerations/Open America Stay: The court finds that "the FBI failed to show exceptional circumstance exist in this case" to warrant the grant of an Open America stay. The court notes that "though there are more FOIA requests now than in 2005, the number of requests has actually dropped by over 25% between FY 2008 . . . and FY 2012." Additionally, the court finds that "the increase in size of requests is due to a change in the Department of Justice's own regulations." The court holds that "[b]ecause the FBI cannot show that the delay is caused by something other than the 'predictable agency workload,' it must demonstrate that it has made 'reasonable progress in reducing its backlog of pending requests.'" The court determines that the FBI cannot make this showing because although "'the number of FOIA requests received by the FBI increased by 15% in FY 2012, . . . the backlog of requests increased by 65%.'" Therefore, the court "finds that the FBI has not shown exceptional circumstances or sufficient progress in reducing its backlog to warrant and [sic] Open America stay."
- Procedural Requirements: The court "finds that [plaintiff's] proposed processing rate is reasonable in light of the importance of her work and the possibility that she may have only a limited time in which to do it." Plaintiff is "desperately in need of a liver transplant'" and "'faces a very limited lifespan without much prospect that she will be able to carry forward' her research." The court notes that "[plaintiff's] request that the FBI process 5,000 pages a month is higher than the rate would be in an ordinary case, but the FBI has successfully processed pages at that rate in other cases." Therefore, "the Court has ordered the FBI to process 5,000 documents per month responsive to plaintiff's request and produce responsive, non-exempt documents on a rolling basis."
Updated August 6, 2014