Today, in CREW v. Dep’t of Justice (D.D.C.), U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled the Department of Justice cannot rely solely on claimed privacy interests of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) to withhold all records from CREW and the public concerning DOJ’s investigation of Rep. Lewis. CREW filed FOIA requests with DOJ seeking records from the closed investigation of Rep. Lewis in an effort to learn why, despite significant allegations of corruption by the congressman, DOJ declined to prosecute. DOJ acted similarly in closing its investigations of Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), and Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) with no prosecutions.
Judge Boasberg acknowledged Rep. Lewis has some privacy interests at stake, but found a clear public interest in documents showing how DOJ handled the Lewis investigation, “especially in the wake of [DOJ’s] failure to successfully prosecute Senator Ted Stevens.” As a result of today’s ruling, DOJ will have to produce all non-exempt documents and justify the basis for each withholding. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler reached a similar conclusion in CREW’s lawsuit seeking investigative records of Rep. Young.