American Immigration Lawyers Association v. Executive Office for Immigration Review

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff, Case No. 13-cv-00840 (CRC) v. EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REFVIEW, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants. MEMORANDUM OPINION Since this case has been here before, the Court will only briefly recount the relevant factual background. In November 2012, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) seeking all complaints filed against immigration judges employed by EOIR and records reflecting the resolution of those complaints for 2009 through November 2012. Compl. ¶ 18. When EOIR did not timely disclose the requested documents, AILA brought suit. Id. ¶ 26. EOIR eventually disclosed some 16,000 pages of records to AILA but, as relevant here, it redacted the names of the individual judges, replacing each judge’s name with a unique three-letter code. See Am. Immigration Lawyers Ass’n v. Exec. Office of Immigration Review, 830 F.3d 667, 672 (D.C. Cir. 2016) (“AILA II”). EOIR argued that Exemption 6 of FOIA—which protects personnel records from disclosure— permitted these redactions. See id. The parties briefed summary judgment and, in December 2014, the Court granted summary judgment to EOIR, upholding EOIR’s redaction of the names under Exemption 6. See Am. Immigration Lawyers Ass’n v. Exec. Office for Immigration Review, 76 F. Supp. 3d 184, 192 (D.D.C. 2014). The Court held that EOIR’s blanket withholding was justified because the incremental public interest in knowing the judges’ identities did not outweigh the privacy interests of the judges given their status as non-supervisory civil servants. Id. at 187. AILA appealed, and the D.C. Circuit reversed. See AILA II, 830 F.3d at 676. The panel reasoned that EOIR could not defend its withholding with such sweeping categorization. Id. Since each judge had a different privacy interest given the varying facts about that judge and the complaints filed against her, the panel concluded that EOIR needed to provide a “particularized showing” for individual judges or categories of judges to justify withholding under Exemption 6. Id. The D.C. Circuit thus remanded for this Court to assess the balance of public and privacy interests for each judge or category of judges in the first instance. Id. The parties have now once more filed briefs for summary judgment on whether that balance should tip towards the disclosure of the names of a subset of the judges whose records were released. The Court will grant each motion in part and deny each motion in part: after considering the balance of privacy interests versus public interests, some of the judges’ names must be disclosed while others may remain withheld. I. Legal Background Summary judgment is appropriately granted if a party shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of proving it is entitled to summary judgment. Celotex Corp. ...

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Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals