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Documented NY v. U.S. Dep't of State, No. 20-1946, 2021 WL 4226239 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 16, 2021) (Nathan, J.)


Documented NY v. U.S. Dep't of State, No. 20-1946, 2021 WL 4226239 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 16, 2021) (Nathan, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning Proclamation 9945, which suspended entry of any immigrant that could not demonstrate means to obtain private health insurance within thirty days of arriving in United States

Disposition:  Denying in part plaintiff's motion to expedite; ordering defendant to process a minimum of 400 pages of documents each month

  • Procedural Requirements, Expedited Processing & Litigation Considerations, "Open America" Stays of Proceedings:    The court relates that "State does not dispute that Plaintiff satisfies two of the three requirements of a 'compelling need' because Plaintiff is primarily engaged in disseminating information to the public and its request for documents relating to Presidential Proclamation 9945 concerns a federal government activity."  "Instead, State contests that there is adequate 'urgency to inform the public.'"  "The Court has serious doubts that Plaintiff's request demonstrates the adequate urgency."  "Proclamation 9945 was enjoined before going into effect and that injunction had been in place for nearly three weeks before Plaintiff submitted its FOIA request to Defendants."  "That injunction was still in place when Plaintiff filed its second motion to expedite."  "And Proclamation 9945 has since been revoked by President Biden."  "While the Court agrees that, as Plaintiff has shown, Proclamation 9945 is both newsworthy and of importance to the general public, Plaintiff's request likely does not implicate the level of exigency necessary to compel expedited processing."

    Separately, "[t]he Court concludes that even if Plaintiff's request qualified for expedited processing, it would still find that State's obligation to process the request 'as soon as practicable' does not require the Court to grant Plaintiff's proposed expedition schedule."  "Three considerations, supported by credible evidence submitted by State, leads to this conclusion."  "First, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constrain State's capacity to process FOIA requests."  " Second, some burdens of State's FOIA obligations predate the pandemic as the number of requests, and resulting litigation, grew dramatically beginning in 2016."  "Third, State's capacity to process FOIA requests is a finite resource, which means that ordering faster production here would necessarily slow production in other cases."  "The Court finds that State's capacity to process Plaintiff's request remains significantly constrained."

    The court relates that "Plaintiff also requests in its latest reply that all three Defendants produce Vaughn indices by December 15, 2021, so that it may 'begin evaluating them for challenges to exemptions and adequacy of search.'"  "The Court finds Plaintiff's proposal to be reasonable."  Additionally, the court finds that "production of Vaughn indices should not further slow the production of documents to Plaintiff, as Plaintiff’s request for Vaughn indices recognized."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, “Open America” Stays of Proceedings
Procedural Requirements, Expedited Processing
Updated October 13, 2021