Case 1:13-cv-00949 Document 1 Filed 06/21/13 Page 1 of 5

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA JUDICIAL WATCH, INC., 425 Third Street, SW, Suite 800 Washington, D.C. 20024, ) ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) ) UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT ) OF JUSTICE, ) 950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW ) Washington, D.C. 20530-0001, ) ) Defendant. ) ___________________________________ ) COMPLAINT Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. brings this action against Defendant United States Department of Justice to compel compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”). As grounds therefor, Plaintiff alleges as follows: JURISDICTION AND VENUE 1. The Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(4)(B)

Civil Action No.

and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 2. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e). PARTIES 3. Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. is a not-for-profit, educational foundation organized

under the laws of the District of Columbia and having its principal place of business at 425 Third Street, S.W., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20024. Plaintiff seeks to promote integrity, transparency, and accountability in government and fidelity to the rule of law. In furtherance of

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its public interest mission, Judicial Watch regularly requests access to public records of federal, state, and local government agencies and officials and disseminates its findings to the public. 4. Defendant United States Department of Justice is an agency of the United States

Government and is headquartered at United States Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001. Defendant has possession, custody, and control of records to which Plaintiff seeks access. STATEMENT OF FACTS 5. On August 27, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to the Office of

Information Policy (“OIP”) within Defendant U.S. Department of Justice seeking records relating to an annual legal conference. Specifically, Plaintiff sought access to “All records concerning, referring, or relating to the National LGBT Bar Association’s 2012 Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair.” 6. By letter dated September 26, 2012, OIP acknowledged receiving Plaintiff’s

FOIA request on August 27, 2012 and asserted that the request fell within the “unusual circumstances” provision of 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B)(i)-(iii). Despite invoking the “unusual circumstance” provision, the letter failed to provide a “date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched,” as required by the provision. 7. After receiving no further communication from OIP about the request, Plaintiff

sent an email to the agency on March 18, 2013 asking that responsive records be provided without further delay. In a telephone conversation with a representative of OIP later that same day, Plaintiff was advised that a search for responsive records in the Office of the Attorney General was still ongoing.

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8.

Plaintiff subsequently received a letter from OIP dated March 19, 2013, made on

behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, asserting that the search of the Office of the Attorney General had been completed and that OIP was reviewing the records that had been located. The letter also asserted that, because the records contain information of interest to other offices, OIP could respond only after consulting with those offices and that it would respond to Plaintiff again once these consultations had been completed. The letter also advised Plaintiff that, if Plaintiff was not satisfied with OIP’s response on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, Plaintiff had the right to take an administrative appeal. No reference was made to the status of any searches for responsive records in other agency offices. 9. Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal on March 22, 2013. OIP subsequently sent

Plaintiff an undated letter acknowledging receipt of Plaintiff’s administrative appeal on March 22, 2013. To date, Plaintiff has received no further communication from the agency regarding the status of the appeal. 10. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i), OIP was required to determine whether to

comply with Plaintiff’s request within twenty (20) working days after receipt of the request. Pursuant to this same provision, OIP also was required to notify Plaintiff immediately of its determination, the reasons therefor, and the right to appeal any adverse determination. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii), OIP was required to make a determination with respect to Plaintiff’s administrative appeal within twenty (20) working days after receipt of the appeal. 11. As of the date of this Complaint, OIP has failed to: (i) determine whether to

comply with Plaintiff’s request; (ii) notify Plaintiff of any such determination or the reasons therefor; or (iii) produce the requested record or otherwise demonstrate that the requested records

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are exempt from production. Also as of the date of this Complaint, OIP has failed to make a determination with respect to Plaintiff’s administrative appeal. 12. Because OIP has failed to comply with the time limits set forth in 5 U.S.C. §

522(a)(6)(A), Plaintiff is deemed to have exhausted any and all administrative remedies with respect to its request, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(C). COUNT 1 (Violation of FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552) 13. 14. Plaintiff realleges paragraphs 1 through 12 as if fully stated herein. Defendant is unlawfully withholding public records requested by Plaintiff

pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552. 15. Plaintiff is being irreparably harmed by reason of Defendant’s unlawful

withholding of the requested public records, and Plaintiff will continue to be irreparably harmed unless Defendant is compelled to conform its conduct to the requirements of the law. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court: (1) order Defendant to conduct a search for any and all records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request and demonstrate that it employed search methods reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request; (2) order Defendant to produce, by a date certain, any and all nonexempt records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request and a Vaughn index of any responsive records withheld under claim of exemption; (3) enjoin Defendant from continuing to withhold any and all non-exempt records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request; (4) grant Plaintiff an award of attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(E); and (5) grant Plaintiff such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.

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Dated: June 21, 2013

Respectfully Submitted, JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. /S/ Paul J. Orfanedes D.C. Bar No. 429716 425 Third Street, S.W., Suite 800 Washington, DC 20024 (202) 646-5172 Attorneys for Plaintiff

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