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Judicial Watch • JW v DOJ Ohr Status Report 00490

JW v DOJ Ohr Status Report 00490

JW v DOJ Ohr Status Report 00490

Page 1: JW v DOJ Ohr Status Report 00490

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Number of Pages:7

Date Created:August 31, 2018

Date Uploaded to the Library:September 12, 2018

Tags:potentially, 00490, Ohr, processing, Joint, PAGES, Attorney, justice, responsive, defendant, production, filed, plaintiff, request, document, FBI, records, DOJ, department, FOIA


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Case 1:18-cv-00490-TNM Document Filed 08/31/18 Page
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.,
Plaintiff,
U.S. DEPARTMENT JUSTICE,
Defendant.
Case No. 18-00490 (TNM)
FOURTH JOINT STATUS REPORT
The parties, counsel and pursuant this Court order July 18, 2018, respectfully
submit this joint status report: issue this Freedom Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit Plaintiff Judicial Watch,
Inc. December 2017 request Defendant, the United States Department Justice, seeking
the following records from January 2015 the present: Any and all records contact communication, including but not
limited emails, text messages, and instant chats between former
Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr and any the
following individuals/entities: former British intelligence officer
Christopher Steele; owner Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson; and any
other employees representatives Fusion GPS. Any and all travel requests, authorizations and expense reports for
former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr. Any and all calendar entries former Associate Deputy Attorney
General Bruce Ohr.
The parties positions are set forth below.
Plaintiff Position
According the parties most recent Joint Status Report (ECF No. 13), was the
Case 1:18-cv-00490-TNM Document Filed 08/31/18 Page
parties understanding that Defendant located approximately 3,100 pages records responsive Plaintiff request. See July 18, 2018 Joint Status Report, Since the parties last Joint
Status Report, Defendant has notified Plaintiff that now believes that only 1,650 pages
documents records are potentially responsive Plaintiff request.
Consistent with the parties July 18, 2018 Joint Status Report and the Court
minute order entered that same date, Defendant made its initial production documents
Plaintiff August 24, 2018 that consisted pages responsive records. According
email communications with agency counsel August 29, 2018, Defendant processed only
pages potentially responsive records preparation for the August production, all which
were responsive and produced with some redactions. Discounting the August production, 1,591
pages potentially responsive records remain reviewed, processed and produced
Plaintiff, the extent they are responsive and non-exempt.
Plaintiff believes that Defendant current pace for the review and processing
potentially responsive records unreasonably slow and unduly delays the completion the
processing Plaintiff request. Since Plaintiff submitted the FOIA request almost nine months
ago, Defendant processed and produced only pages records for production. Defendant
does not dispute this fact. the current pace, the production schedule for 1,591 pages
potentially responsive records would exceed three years since Plaintiff submitted its request
Defendant December 2017. ensure judicial economy and minimize further undue delays, Plaintiff has
asked Defendant commit processing least 500 pages potentially responsive records
Case 1:18-cv-00490-TNM Document Filed 08/31/18 Page
monthly complete all document productions December 2018. Defendant disagrees
with Plaintiff request.
Defendant argues, part, that needs more time process the records because
OIP (Department Justice Office Information Policy) also consulting hundreds
pages records with other agency components that have equities over Mr. Ohr records.
Defendant, however, does not say anything about which components are involved, how many
pages records have been referred these other DOJ components for consultation where
they are the review process. Moreover, almost always the case that the OIP would confer
with various components within the Department Justice FOIA requests most always seek
records from the Department that would collected from the various components and offices
within the Department Justice.
Defendant also asks the Court recognize that its efforts narrowing the
volume potentially responsive records over month demonstrates diligence. The record,
however, demonstrates that Defendant has been dilatory processing Plaintiff request ever
since receiving Plaintiff request. Defendant received Plaintiff FOIA request almost nine (9)
months ago. During these nine months, all Defendant has accomplished establishing that
1,650 pages potentially responsive records exist and processing and producing pages
records.
Defendant reliance Daily Caller U.S. Dep State also misplaced
because the December 2018 document production deadline Plaintiff seeks this case
Defendant has committed processing 500 pages potentially responsive records
other cases. See e.g. Judicial Watch, Inc. DOJ, (D.D.C.) (Case No. 18-154) (ECF No. (May
17, 2018 Joint Status Report), Judicial Watch, Inc. DOJ; (D.D.C.) (Case No. 18-262) (ECF
No. (May 2018 Second Joint Status Report).
Case 1:18-cv-00490-TNM Document Filed 08/31/18 Page
neither brief nor arbitrary. The Plaintiff the Daily Caller case sought twenty-day deadline
and expedited processing its FOIA request. Here, Plaintiff asks the Court impose 12month deadline for Defendant process and produce 1,650 pages records, the extent that
they are responsive and non-exempt.
Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court order Defendant process monthly
minimum 500 pages potentially responsive records monthly complete production
all non-exempt, responsive records December 2018.
Pursuant the Court July 18, 2018 minute order, Defendant will make its
second monthly production October 2018 and the parties will file the next joint status
report October 2018.
Defendant Position
Defendant does not agree with Plaintiff assessment Defendant diligence
processing its search request, nor does concur its recommendations the Court.
Defendant completed its search for records potentially responsive Plaintiff
request July 11, 2018, and identified 3,100 potentially responsive records. Plaintiff notes,
Defendant has made substantial progress since the last status report determining that some
potentially responsive records identified the previous status report are, fact, not responsive
and finalizing the total volume travel records. This narrowing the volume potentially
Because September 30, 2018 falls the weekend, Defendant will make its September
production Monday, October 2019.
Pursuant the Court July 18, 2018 minute order, the parties shall file Joint Status
Report the Court regarding the progress Defendant production later than seven days
after each rolling production. Because September production falls Monday, October 2018
and Monday, October 2018 Columbus Day, the parties will file the Joint Status Report the
next business day, Tuesday, October 2018.
Case 1:18-cv-00490-TNM Document Filed 08/31/18 Page
responsive documents nearly half just over month important aspect processing
search results and demonstrates Defendant diligence processing the request issue this
case. significant portion the remaining volume potentially responsive records
consists nearly three years calendars. Plaintiff request for these calendars, unlike parts (a)
and (b) its request, not limited the topic communications with particular individuals.
The material implicates significant number calendar entries covering varying appointments,
which need processed and many which need consulted multiple components.
Plaintiff has declined narrow its request for calendars subject matter. ensure that Defendant meets its obligation protect information that
properly exempt from disclosure under the FOIA, OIP needs carefully review this material
and engage high-level consultation the contents each record. OIP has been and
continues process Plaintiff FOIA request soon practicable, but needs sufficient time
ensure that public interests are not harmed through inadvertent disclosure exempt records that
could contain potentially sensitive information.
OIP also consulting hundreds pages records with other agency
components that have equities over Mr. Ohr records. See C.F.R. 16.4(d)(1) (providing for
consultation when records originated with the component processing the request contain
within them information interest another component These consultations take time
complete, agency components have their own time-sensitive workloads manage, and OIP
cannot control the time takes complete consultations with each component. The
consultation process important safeguard[] potentially sensitive information, and forcing
the agency produce all requested records impracticably brief deadline raises significant
Case 1:18-cv-00490-TNM Document Filed 08/31/18 Page
risk harm the public and private interests served the thorough processing responsive
agency records prior their ultimate production. Daily Caller U.S. Dep State, 152
Supp. 14-15 (D.D.C. 2015). Defendant anticipates that the volume released documents
will increase future rolling productions documents clear consultations and are deemed
appropriate for release. light the foregoing, Defendant will able provide final response
Plaintiff request February 2019. Defendant also anticipates that parts (a) and (b)
Plaintiff request will responded December 2018. The additional two months
time over Plaintiff proposed schedule reasonable light the heavy FOIA caseload OIP
currently managing, including many other matters litigation that have competing production
schedules and other court-ordered deadlines, and the need complete consultations with other
agency components before documents can released. The calendar entries Plaintiff has
requested are particularly complicated category documents for purposes processing and
consultation, and Plaintiff has requested all Mr. Ohr calendar entries for period nearly
three years without regard subject matter.
Releases responsive documents will continue made rolling basis
accordance with the schedule previously agreed the parties.
Defendant reserves the right file Open America stay the event the Court enters
different processing schedule.
Plaintiff directs the Court two cases which Defendant has committed processing
500 pages potentially responsive documents per month, but both cases involved requests
directed the FBI, which processes its own FOIA requests, rather than OIP, which handles
FOIA requests directed senior leadership offices the Department Justice. Pl. Resp.
n.1. The FBI agreements processing rates other cases are not relevant determining
what processing speed OIP can reasonably maintain this case.
Case 1:18-cv-00490-TNM Document Filed 08/31/18 Page
Respectfully submitted,
August 31, 2018
/s/Ramona Cotca
Ramona Cotca (D.C. Bar No. 501159)
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
425 Third Street S.W., Suite 800
Washington, 20024
(202) 646-5172
rcotca@judicialwatch.org
CHAD READLER
Acting Assistant Attorney General
MARCIA BERMAN
Assistant Branch Director
/s/ Michael Gerardi
Michael Gerardi (D.C. Bar No. 1017949)
Trial Attorney
United States Department Justice
Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch Massachusetts Ave. NW, Room 7223
Washington, D.C. 20530
Tel: (202) 616-0680
Fax: (202) 616-8460
E-mail: michael.j.gerardi@usdoj.gov
Counsel for Plaintiff
Counsel for Defendant