Yesterday in CREW v. Department of Justice (D.D.C.), a long running Freedom of Information Act case challenging DOJ’s failure to produce documents from its closed investigation of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg granted the government’s motion for summary judgment, bringing the litigation to a close. CREW had prevailed on several earlier summary judgment motions, when the court rejected DOJ’s claim that privacy interests made the requested documents categorically exempt, and ordered DOJ to process the requests.
As a result, CREW received over 2,000 documents pertaining to the Lewis investigation, but the government continued to withhold portions of documents under FOIA Exemption 5 as protected by the attorney-client and, work product privileges, and the privacy protections of Exemptions 6 and 7(C). The court rejected the government’s original justifications as insufficient, and even after DOJ submitted additional explanations for its withholdings decided to review the contested documents in camera. After that review, the court issued its opinion of June 11, 2014, granting the government’s motion. As a result of this ruling, CREW and the public have been denied access to documents that address resource issues in the investigation. Other documents CREW received in response to its FOIA requests suggest the investigation was stymied by DOJ’s failure to provide adequate resources.