JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
COMPLAINT against U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4332992) filed by JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons U.S. Attorney for D.C., # 3 Summons U.S. Attorney General, # 4 Summons DHS)(Burke, Lauren)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.,
425 Third Street SW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20024,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT
OF HOMELAND SECURITY,
Office of the General Counsel
245 Murray Lane SW
Washington, DC 20528,
Civil Action No.
Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. brings this action against Defendant U.S. Department of
Homeland Security 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
The Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B)
and 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e).
Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. is a not-for-profit, educational organization
incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia and headquartered at 425 Third Street
S.W., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20024. Plaintiff seeks to promote transparency, integrity, and
accountability in government and fidelity to the rule of law. As part of its mission, Plaintiff
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regularly requests records from federal agencies pursuant to FOIA. Plaintiff analyzes the
responses and disseminates its findings and the requested records to the American public to
inform them about “what their government is up to.”
Defendant United States Department of Homeland Security is an agency of the
United States Government and is headquartered at 245 Murry Lane SW, Mailstop 0485,
Washington, D.C. 20528. Defendant has possession, custody, and control of records to which
Plaintiff seeks access.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
On August 5, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to the Transportation
Security Administration, a component of Defendant, seeking access to:
Any and all travel vouchers and/or travel cost records for former
Deputy Administration John W. Halinski [sic].
The time frame for this request runs from July 1, 2012 to July 12,
By facsimile dated August 6, 2015, Defendant acknowledged receipt of the
request and notified Plaintiff that the request had been assigned Case Number 2015-TSFO00320.
Defendant’s acknowledgment letter indicated that no additional clarification
and/or documentation were needed from Plaintiff to process the request. Plaintiff has received
no further communication from Defendant concerning the status of the request.
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i), Defendant was required to determine
whether to comply with Plaintiff’s request within twenty (20) working days after receipt of the
request and to notify Plaintiff immediately of its determination, the reasons therefor, and the
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right to appeal any adverse determination. Accordingly, Defendant’s determination was due by
August 26, 2015.
As of the date of this Complaint, Defendant has failed to: (i) determine whether to
comply with Plaintiff’s request; (ii) notify Plaintiff of any such determination or the reasons
therefor; (iii) advise Plaintiff of the right to appeal any adverse determination; or (iv) produce the
requested records or otherwise demonstrate that the requested records are exempt from
Because Defendant has failed to comply with the time limit set forth in 5 U.S.C. §
552(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).
(Violation of FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552)
Plaintiff realleges paragraphs 1 through 10 as if fully stated herein.
Defendant is violating FOIA by failing to search for and produce all records
responsive to Plaintiff’s requests that are not lawfully exempt from production.
Plaintiff is being irreparably harmed by reason of Defendant’s violation of FOIA,
and Plaintiff will continue to be irreparably harmed unless Defendant is compelled to comply
fully with FOIA.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court: (1) order Defendant to
search for any and all records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request and demonstrate that it
employed search methods reasonably calculated to uncover all records responsive to the request;
(2) order Defendant to produce, by a date certain, any and all non-exempt 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
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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.
Dated: December 1, 2015
/s/ Lauren M. Burke
Lauren M. Burke
D.C. Bar No. 1028811
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
425 Third Street SW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20024
Counsel for Plaintiff
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