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Judicial Watch • Fast and Furious Vaughn 01510 – September 23 Order

Fast and Furious Vaughn 01510 – September 23 Order

Fast and Furious Vaughn 01510 – September 23 Order

Page 1: Fast and Furious Vaughn 01510 – September 23 Order


Number of Pages:5

Date Created:September 23, 2014

Date Uploaded to the Library:September 24, 2014

Tags:Fast & Furious, 01510, Vaughn

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 Civil Action No. 12-1510 (JDB) 

 After the last round motions this Freedom Information Act (FOIA) case concerning Operation Fast and Furious documents, this Court ordered the Department Justice submit Vaughn index not later than October 2014.  7/18/14 Order [ECF No. 38]  But the Department has now asked for more time. would prefer submit its Vaughn index November Def.s Mot. for Extension Time [ECF No. 43] (Def.s Mot.) and plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. has consented this motionin part.  Judicial Watch thinks the Department should able complete and submit its index October 17.  See Pl.s Resp. Def.s Mot. [ECF No. 44]  For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant part the Departments motion and extend the Vaughn index deadline twenty-one days October 22, 2014. 
 The facts this case are not new. 2011, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued subpoena the Attorney General the United States, seeking documents related congressional investigation into Bureau Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation known Operation Fast and Furious. response, President Barack Obama invoked executive privilege and withheld the subpoenaed documents.   
 Two things happened next.  First, the House Committee filed suit enforce its subpoena.  That case pending before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, another judge this district.  See, e.g., Comm. Oversight Govt Reform, U.S. House Representatives Holder, 979 Supp. (D.D.C. 2013) (House Committee).  And second, Judicial Watch submitted FOIA request for all records subject the Presidents executive-privilege claimin other words, the very same records issue the House Committee lawsuit.  See Pl.s Compl. [ECF No.  The Department Justice denied Judicial Watchs request, id. 23, and this lawsuit followed.  Although this Court initially stayed the FOIA case due the pending House Committee litigation, the Court partially lifted that stay July 18, 2014, and required the Department produce Vaughn index for the withheld documents October 
 The House Committee case has progressed further recent weeks. August 20, Judge Jackson denied the parties motions for summary judgment, and directed the Department Justice to conduct document-by-document analysis the withheld material and prepare October 2014, detailed list that identifies and describes the material manner sufficient enable resolution any privilege claims.  Def.s Mot. (internal quotation marks omitted).  The Court also ordered the Department produce the [House] Committee all non-deliberative documents non-deliberative portions documents over which Executive Privilege had been asserted.  Id.  When the Department argued that could not meet the courts deadline (and asked for new one December 15), Judge Jackson agreed shift the due datebut only until November  Id. 67.  The Departments motion for extension time file its Vaughn index this case followed closely the heels that decision.  
DISCUSSION this Court has made clear, it time for this case move forward.  7/18/14 Order July 18, this Court gave the Department Justice daysuntil October 1to produce Vaughn index.  The Court did not require the government release any documents.  See id. (To clear, the Court not ordering the release any documents currently being withheld this litigation House Committee.).  And did not place any obligations the Department above and beyond those mandated Vaughn Rosen, 484 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1973).  See 7/18/14 Order 78 (describing the usual Vaughn index requirements).  Certainly, there are several thousand documents dispute, representing several more thousand pages text.  See Def.s Mot. ([T]here are approximately 15,000 documents, extending over 64,000 pages, withheld pursuant the assertion Executive Privilege.).  But seventy-five daysplus another twenty-one, based part Judiciary Watchs consentis enough time for the government prepare the index that this Court has ordered, given that this matter has been pending for over two years.  The Court will therefore extend the Departments Vaughn index submission deadline October 22, 2014and further. 
 The governments arguments for even more time are unconvincing.  The Department first points Judge Jacksons November deadline House Committee.  See Def.s Mot  Because November was appropriate that case, the argument seems go, November must equally appropriate this case.  But this misreads Judge Jacksons opinion. that court reasoned, [s]ince the deadline Judicial Watch was set first, makes sense for defendant complete that effort and then turn his attention the list that due this case.  Ex. Def.s Mot. [ECF No. 43-2] other words, Judge Jackson thought prudent allow the Department complete its Vaughn index first, and then give the Department extra time complete the more detailed listand produce the documentsrequired the House Committee order.  This rationale counsels against dramatically shifting the goalposts this case. 
 The government argues next that the sheer volume documents involved this case requires additional time produce Vaughn index, and relies the declaration testimony Allison Stanton, Director E-Discovery the Department Justice, substantiate this claim.  But the government makes too much Stantons testimony.  She produced her declaration part the House Committee case, and her testimony describes the Departments difficulties responding the order that case.  Stantons testimony begins with run-down the House Committee requirements:  The Department must submit a detailed list that identifies and describes the [withheld material] manner sufficient enable resolution any privilege claims; [t]he list must set forth minimum the author, recipient(s), and general subject matter the record being withheld, well the basis for the assertion the privilege; and the list must specify[] the decision that the deliberations contained the document precede, the date which such record was created and/or transmitted, and the date any asserted underlying policy decision.  Ex. Def.s Mot. [ECF 43-1] (Stanton Decl.) (internal quotation marks omitted).  Whats more, Stanton notes that the Department must actually produce some previously withheld documents the House Committee.  Id.  Based these requirements, Stanton concluded that the Department could not meet Judge Jacksons deadline.  But all this quite beside the point this case.  Nowhere does Stanton mention the present FOIA litigation this cases (much less onerous) Vaughn index requirement.  And nowhere does Stanton conclude that the Department unable meet its Vaughn obligations within the time prescribed.  Without any concrete evidence the contrary, the Court must therefore conclude that October time enough. 
 Finally, the government argues that must devote significant numbers attorneys this matter hopes comply with the current Vaughn index deadline, and suggests that needs extra month bring those attorneys speed this case.  See Def.s Mot.   This might true.  But the Department has known about its Vaughn index obligations since July 18, 2014. argue nowsome two months after this Courts July Orderthat new reviewers must assigned this matter who not yet have detailed knowledge this case and who must have time learn the context and background individual documents unpersuasive.  Stanton Decl. best, means the Department has been slow react this Courts previous Order. worst, means the Department has ignored that Order until now.  Therefore, upon consideration [43] the governments motion for extension time submit Vaughn index, the various memoranda filed the parties, and the entire record herein, hereby 
 ORDERED that [43] the governments motion for extension time GRANTED PART; further 
 ORDERED that the deadline which the Department Justice must submit the Vaughn index described this Courts Order July 18, 2014, EXTENDED until October 22, 2014; and further 
 ORDERED that the parties shall file joint status report with the Court within fourteen days any significant development House Committee, but any event not later than November 2014, which time the Court will assess the future course this case. ORDERED. 
         United States District Judge 
Dated:  September 23, 2014