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Judicial Watch, Inc. v. DOJ, No. 18-1979, 2019 WL 4536815 (D.D.C. Sept. 19, 2019) (Chutkan, J.)


Judicial Watch, Inc. v. DOJ, No. 18-1979, 2019 WL 4536815 (D.D.C. Sept. 19, 2019) (Chutkan, J.)

Re:  Requests for certain records concerning former Secretary of State' use of personal e-mail account

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion to dismiss

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  "The court . . . finds that the August 10, 2018 . . . Letter, coupled with prior representations in virtually identical litigations with the same counsel, constituted a determination to comply with Plaintiff's FOIA request."  "The DOJ deserves an opportunity to apply its expertise, correct mistakes, and develop a factual record that could prevent the need for unnecessary judicial review."  "Accordingly, Plaintiff must pursue an administrative appeal before seeking judicial review."  The court explains that "Plaintiff was apprised of (1) the estimated number of pages in the investigative file, (2) the types of documents contained in the file, and (3) the exemptions the FBI intended to claim with respect to withheld documents."  "In the August 10, 2018 . . . Letter, the FBI provided information beyond mere notice of its receipt of Plaintiff's request, and the information provided constituted an adequate response."  "First, the letter reiterated what Plaintiff knew since at least 2017: records responsive to its FOIA request were being processed and publicly posted on the FBI's online FOIA library on the first Friday of each month."  "The . . . Letter advised Plaintiff to monitor the online FOIA library for updated material responsive to its FOIA request."  "Second, it explained that the responsive records were searchable by entering 'Hillary R. Clinton' as the search term."  "Third, the . . . Letter informed Plaintiff that the available records constituted an interim release of information, and that the FOIA request would remain open while additional records were being produced."  "Per the letter, Plaintiff would be notified once the final release was posted and the request was closed."  "Finally, the . . . Letter informed Plaintiff how to file an appeal."  "When viewing the documents in the online library, Plaintiff could view the exemptions invoked for each redacted and withheld document."  "When Plaintiff brought this lawsuit, it was in a prime position to begin the administrative appeal process."  "Indeed, Plaintiff's complaint acknowledges that, when it brought this case, the FBI had made 24 productions."  "And by bringing suit in this court and attempting to bypass an administrative appeal, Plaintiff undermines the 'purposes of exhaustion' and the 'administrative scheme.'"
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Updated December 17, 2021