Property of the People v. OMB, No. 17-1677, 2018 WL 4387569 (D.D.C. September 14, 2018) (Contreras, J.)

Date: 
Friday, September 14, 2018

Property of the People v. OMB, No. 17-1677, 2018 WL 4387569 (D.D.C. September 14, 2018) (Contreras, J.)

Re:  Portions of calendar entries of the Director

Disposition:  Granting in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; denying defendant's motion for summary judgment. 

  • Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege: The court holds that "OMB must release factual information – including the names of meeting attendees, the name of an 'inviter,' and the locations of meetings – featured in these records."  The court explains, "[t]hough Plaintiffs might infer the general topic of a meeting from a list of meeting participants . . . release of this information would expose no suggestions, no recommendations, no proposals, and no other aspect of the agency communications, and it is not apparent how disclosure . . . might in any way discourage candid discussion within the agency."  The court finds similarly for the locations and name of the "inviter."  The court states, "the disclosure of this information reveals, at the very most, the names of individuals who may have been consulted on unspecified policy matters and cannot be reasonably understood as exposing the identities of decisionmakers in a manner that might chill discussions within the agency."   
     
  • Exemption 5, Presidential Communications Privilege: Defendant also "redacted 'calendar entries that memorialize communications with the President, Vice President, or their senior advisors, or preparations for such meetings.'"  The court finds that  defendant's submissions justifying use of the privilege were insufficient.  First, because "it is not at all clear . . . whether the disputed calendar entries catalog meetings with individuals who qualify as 'immediate White House advisers.'"  The court also finds that  defendant "fails to explain why [entries of meetings among internal agency staff to prepare for meetings with the President or other White House advisers] might meet the requirement that documents or other communications directly involved the President or were solicited and received by the President or his immediate White House advisers."  The court also finds that defendant "has not shown that each of the disputed entries 'reflect presidential decisionmaking and deliberations.'"      
Topic: 
District Court
Exemption 5
Updated January 31, 2019