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Morley v. CIA, No. 14-5230, 2016 WL 278193 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 21, 2016) (Williams, S.C.J.)


Morley v. CIA, No. 14-5230, 2016 WL 278193 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 21, 2016) (Williams, S.C.J.)

Re: Request for records concerning CIA officer

Disposition: Granting appellant's appeal from district court's denial of appellant's motion for attorney fees and costs; vacating district court judgment and remanding case to district court

  • Attorney Fees:  The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit holds that "[t]he district court erred in concluding that the merits case had not yielded a public benefit."  The D.C. Circuit stressed:  "Lest there be any uncertainty, we clarify that the public-benefit factor requires an ex ante assessment of the potential public value of the information requested, with little or no regard to whether any documents supplied prove to advance the public interest."  The court finds that "[appellant's] request had potential public value."  The court explains that "there was at least a modest probability that [appellant's] request would generate information relevant to the assassination or later investigations."  Additionally, the court finds that "[appellant] had no reason to believe that all records pertaining to [the CIA officer] would be available."  "Moreover, at oral argument [appellant's] counsel claimed that extracting documents of this sort from the Archives is a laborious and unreliable process."  The court holds that, "[b]efore denying any fees on the ground that some of the documents were available in the Archives, the district court should consider (1) whether fees incurred in connection with such documents are segregable and, if so, (2) whether the difficulties recited above nonetheless militate against denial of fees for such documents."  Additionally, "[o]n remand, the district court should consider the remaining factors and the overall balance afresh."
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Attorney Fees
Updated January 13, 2022