Press

Public Record Media files suit against Justice Department; seeks legal opinions about mass surveillance programs covering U.S. persons

January 24, 2017

Saint Paul, Minnesota – On January 23rd, Minnesota-based open government organization Public Record Media (PRM) filed suit in federal court, seeking access to legal opinions and correspondence related to mass surveillance programs that capture the communications data of U.S. persons.

Since 9/11, two successive presidential administrations have engaged in sweeping communications surveillance operations – including the Bush administration’s “warrantless wiretapping” program, and the telephone metadata collection program operated by the Obama administration.

Over time, the public disclosure of such practices has resulted in modifications designed to address legal and constitutional problems posed by over-broad collection programs – including congressional limitations on collection activities enacted in June of 2015.

“Mass surveillance programs that cover U.S. citizens have been utilized by both Democratic and Republican presidents,” said PRM President Matt Ehling.  “With a new administration in power in Washington, the public deserves to know the extent – and asserted legal basis – of any broad-based surveillance programs that capture the communications data of U.S. citizens.”

The FOIA request at the center of the lawsuit also seeks to shed light on the past surveillance practices of the Obama administration by requesting correspondence between members of Congress and the office of the U.S Attorney General.

PRM seeks out and publishes government data, writes original investigative stories, conducts public education on government transparency, and litigates open records issues.  PRM has secured thousands of pages of documents from federal agencies through past litigation, including in cases against the departments of Interior and Health and Human Services.

The complaint in Public Record Media v. U.S. Department of Justice was filed on January 23rd in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  Washington DC attorney Scott Hodes is representing PRM.


Public Record Media to host open house on November 16th

November 7, 2016

St. Paul, Minnesota – On November 16th, Public Record Media will host an open house event at its office in Saint Paul.  Join PRM’s board and staff for refreshments, plus a discussion about public record-based reporting.

Public Record Media (PRM) is a Saint Paul-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.  Over the course of its history, PRM has obtained hundreds of thousands of pages of government records, and has engaged in extensive public records litigation.  Since 2014, PRM has also trained scores of Minnesotans about how to utilize open records laws.

Seeking government records:  PRM uses state and federal open records laws to obtain a wide variety of government documents.  Records obtained by PRM are used for PRM’s original reporting, or are shared with local and national press organizations.  Documents obtained by PRM have supported reporting efforts by the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, Minnpost, Minnesota Public Radio, and other new outlets.

Legal work:  PRM has engaged in successful Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against a variety of federal agencies, and has submitted amicus briefs in multiple state-level legal disputes over access to government records.  PRM’s legal work seeks to maintain robust case law in support of public access to government information.

Public education:  PRM trains citizens across Minnesota about how to use state and federal open records laws, and answers citizen inquiries about access to government data.

PRM’s open house will run from 5:30pm to 8:00pm, with a short presentation at 7:00pm.  PRM’s Executive Editor Mike Kaszuba will speak with Minnpost reporter Peter Callaghan about the state of public records in Minnesota.

Tax-deductible donations to support PRM’s work will be accepted at the event, or they can be made via PRM’s page on the GiveMN.org website.

PRM is located at 2375 University Ave. W., Suite 200 St. Paul, MN 55114.  Call 651-556-1381 for directions, or with other questions.


Public Record Media to host Freedom of Information workshop in Duluth

July 25, 2016

St. Paul, Minnesota – Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information workshop at the Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior Street, on Monday August 15th, 2016 from 6:30pm-8:00pm.

Freedom of Information (FOI) laws make government data – including city budgets, arrest information, and more – available to anyone. PRM’s workshop will explain how people can use Freedom of Information laws – including the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act – to obtain government records.

PRM’s workshop will also focus on two government records case studies.  JT Haines, a Duluth attorney who previously served as special counsel to PRM, will discuss PRM’s use of FOI laws to obtain data on proposed mining operations in northern Minnesota – including the Twin Metals and NorthMet projects.

Rich Neumeister, a long-time public record requester and open government advocate, will present an overview of the state of public access to police body camera data.  The Minnesota Legislature recently made changes to state law that affect body camera use.  How do such changes impact transparency, civil liberties, and other issues?

The event is free to the public. 2016 is the third consecutive year that PRM has hosted a public records event in Duluth.

Public Record Media is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education. More information is available at www.publicrecordmedia.org.


Freedom of Information workshop to be held at Oakdale Library

July 8, 2016

St. Paul, Minnesota – On July 28th, PRM will host a Freedom of Information workshop at the Oakdale Public Library, located at 1010 Heron Avenue North in Oakdale, Minnesota, from 6:30 pm-7:45 pm.

Freedom of Information laws make government data – including city budgets, arrest information, and more – available to anyone. PRM’s workshop will explain how people can use Freedom of Information laws – including the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act – to obtain government data and records.

Rich Neumeister, a long-time public record requester and open government advocate, will present the workshop. PRM president Matt Ehling will give an introduction.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests. Past events have been hosted in Duluth, Mankato, Rochester, Winona, St. Cloud, and throughout the Twin Cities area.  The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.


Freedom of Information workshop to be held at Hosmer Library in Minneapolis

June 1, 2016

St. Paul, Minnesota – On June 20th, PRM will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the Hosmer Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The event will run from 6:30pm-7:45pm.  The Hosmer Library is located at 347 E. 36th Street in Minneapolis.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws to obtain government records of interest to them.  The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by members of the PRM board.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

Since 2014, PRM has hosted FOI trainings throughout the state as part of its effort to increase public awareness of open record laws, and to provide citizens with tools to increase civic participation and government accountability.


Free workshop on public record laws at Anoka’s Rum River Library

April 12, 2016

St. Paul, Minnesota – Next month, St. Paul-based transparency non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will begin a year-long series of workshops on public records and government transparency. On May 2, 2016, PRM will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the Rum River Branch of the Anoka County Library in Anoka, Minnesota. The event will run from 6:30pm-7:45pm.  The Rum River Library is located at 4201 6th Ave. in Anoka.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws (both Minnesota and federal) to obtain government records of interest to them. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester, educator, and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by PRM president Matt Ehling.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

PRM has hosted FOI trainings throughout the state as part of its effort to increase public awareness of open record laws, and to provide citizens with tools to increase civic particpation and government accountability.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.


Public Record Media to host Freedom of Information workshop in Winona

November 13, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – On Thursday, December 10, 2015, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the Winona County Historical Center, located at 160 Johnson Street in Winona, Minnesota. The workshop will run from 6:30 to 8:00pm.

PRM’s event will explore how citizens can use FOI laws to obtain government records of interest to them. The event will feature Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester, educator, and open government advocate. Public Record Media’s president Matt Ehling will provide introductory remarks.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests. RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

PRM’s workshop is one in a series of events that the organization has hosted throughout the state. Past events have been held in Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato, and various metro-area locations.


PRM files friend-of-the-court brief in Webster v. City of Bloomington data
lawsuit

October 26, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – Transparency non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Tony Webster v. City of Bloomington data lawsuit. PRM’s brief was filed in support of plaintiff Tony Webster’s pending motion to compel the City of Bloomington to produce data in response to a freedom-of-information request. Webster’s request sought information about a December, 2014 Black Lives Matters protest at the Mall of America. Webster filed suit after city officials barred him from inspecting data responsive to his request, including various forms of computer metadata.

PRM’s interest in the Webster case ultimately stems from a letter that the City of Bloomington sent to Webster in which the City asserted that computer metadata was not covered by the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act-the state law that governs public records requests. The City’s assertion is contrary to state law, and PRM has sought through its friend-of-the-court brief to help the court deciding the Webster case understand why this is so.

“If a city is free to withhold an entire category of information that plainly falls within the scope of the Data Practices Act, this would set a dangerous legal precedent,” said Mahesha Subbaraman, the attorney representing PRM in the matter. “It would also limit public access to government information by giving government agencies a ‘back door’ to escape their obligations under state law.”

PRM filed its brief in conjunction with the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, and civic data activist William Bushey. A hearing in the Webster case will be held on October 28, 2015 at 9:00 AM at the Hennepin County Courthouse.

Press inquiries about PRM’s amicus brief can be directed to Mahesha Subbaraman of Subbaraman PLLC at 612-315-9210, or at mps@subblaw.com.


Public Record Media to host Freedom of Information workshop in Mankato

September 10, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – How can you get access to records about your home or property? Or police records? What are your rights to obtain government records? What tools are available to get access to government information that is important to you?

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop to answer these questions and more during an event to be held from 6:30 PM-8:00 PM. The event will take place in the community room at Snell Motors, located at 1900 Madison Ave. in Mankato, Minnesota.

The workshop will explore how citizens can use FOI laws to obtain government records of interest to them. A particular focus of the workshop will be on government agencies that have enforcement powers. The event will feature Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester, educator, and open government advocate. Members of the Public Record Media board will provide introductory remarks.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests. RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

PRM’s workshop is one in a series of events that the organization is hosting throughout the state under a grant from the Washington DC-based Sunlight Foundation. Past events have been hosted in Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, and various metro-area locations.


Public Record Media to host Freedom of Information workshop in Duluth

August 4, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information workshop at the Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior Street, on August 17th, 2015 from 6:30pm-8:00pm.

Freedom of Information laws make government data – including city budgets, arrest information, and more – available to anyone. PRM’s workshop will explain how people can use Freedom of Information laws – including the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act – to obtain government records.

Rich Neumeister, a long-time public record requester and open government advocate, will present the workshop. PRM president Matt Ehling will give an introduction. Duluth resident Ann Redelfs will also discuss her own experiences obtaining government data, using techniques learned at a previous PRM workshop.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education. More information is available at www.publicrecordmedia.org.


PRM continues transparency forums with Burnsville, MN open records event

July 19, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – PRM will continue its series of open records events with a Freedom of Information (FOI) forum on July 23, 2015, at the Burnhaven Library in Burnsville, Minnesota. The event will run from 6:30pm-8:00pm.  The Burnhaven Library is located at 1101 West County Road 42 in Burnsville.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws (both Minnesota and federal) to obtain government records of interest to them. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by members of the PRM board.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

PRM’s workshop is one in a series of events that the organization is hosting throughout the state under a grant from the Washington DC-based Sunlight Foundation. Past events have been hosted in Rochester, St. Cloud, Minneapolis, and Maplewood.


PRM to host public records workshop in Maplewood, MN

June 10, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – On July 16, 2015, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the Maplewood Library in Maplewood, Minnesota. The event will run from 6:30pm-8:00pm.  The Maplewood Library is located at 3025 Southlawn Drive in Maplewood, Minnesota.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws (both Minnesota and federal) to obtain government records of interest to them. A particular focus of the workshop will be on government entities that have an enforcement function – including police, housing, and related agencies. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by members of the PRM board.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

PRM’s workshop is one in a series of events that the organization is hosting throughout the state under a grant from the Washington DC-based Sunlight Foundation. Past events have been hosted in Rochester, St. Cloud, and Minneapolis.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.


PRM to host public records workshop in Minneapolis, MN

May 18, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – On June 11, 2015, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the North Regional Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The event will be held in the library’s North Regional Meeting Room, and will run from 6:30pm-8:00pm.  The North Regional Library is located at 1315 Lowry Ave. N. in Minneapolis.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws (both Minnesota and federal) to obtain government records of interest to them. A particular focus of the workshop will be on government entities that have an enforcement function – including police, housing, and related agencies. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by members of the PRM board.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381.

PRM’s workshop is one in a series of events that the organization is hosting throughout the state under a grant from the Washington DC-based Sunlight Foundation. Past events have been hosted in Rochester and St. Cloud.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.


PRM Files Suit Against US Interior Department Over Mining Documents

December 4, 2014

St. Paul, Minnesota – One year ago November, Public Record Media submitted requests for mining-related documents to six state and federal agencies under open data laws. One of the six agencies has yet to respond to PRM’s request despite a legal obligation to do so and numerous follow-up communications.

“Over the course of a year, we have contacted Interior by letter, email, phone, and through their internal administrative appeal procedures,” said PRM President Matt Ehling. “It’s rare for us to receive no response at all to one of our requests. Given the clear importance of this issue to the public, we feel an obligation to get this properly resolved.”

PRM filed suit today in the US District Court, District of Minnesota, to pursue the requested records from Interior.

The suit will be PRM’s first in federal court since its 2013 settlement with the US Department of Health and Human Services, and 2013 victory over the US Department of Justice in front of the US District of Minnesota’s Chief Judge Michael Davis.

PRM Special Counsel JT Haines will again handle the case.


PRM to host public records workshop in Saint Cloud, MN

October 30, 2014

St. Paul, Minnesota – On December 2, 2014, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the Great River Regional Library in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. The event will be held in the library’s Mississippi Community Room, and will run from 6:30pm-8:30pm.  The Great River Regional Library is located at 1300 W. Saint Germain Street in Saint Cloud.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws (both Minnesota and federal) to obtain government records of interest to them. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by PRM president Matt Ehling.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are requested, either by phone (651-556-1381) or by e-mail (info@publicrecordmedia.com).

PRM’s Saint Cloud workshop is one in a series of events that the organization is hosting in greater Minnesota cities. PRM recently received funding from the Washington-based Sunlight Foundation to expand its education efforts around public records and government transparency.  Most recently, PRM hosted an FOI workshop in Rochester, Minnesota that was attended by local citizens and representatives of regional media outlets.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.


 PRM to host public records workshop in Rochester, MN

September 30, 2014

St. Paul, Minnesota – On October 21, 2014, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the Heintz Center at Rochester Community and Technical College. The Henitz Center is located as 1926 College View Road, SE, in Rochester. The event will run from 6:00pm-8:00pm in the Heintz Commons.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws – both Minnesota and federal – to obtain government records of interest to them. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by PRM president Matt Ehling.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are requested, either by phone (651-556-1381) or by e-mail (info@publicrecordmedia.com).

PRM’s Rochester workshop is one in a series of events that the organization is hosting in greater Minnesota cities. PRM recently received funding from the Washington-based Sunlight Foundation to expand its education efforts around public records and government transparency.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.


Advisory Opinion favors PRM in data request for RFP, contract data

September 22, 2014

Saint Paul, MN — The Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Administration (ADM) issued a Data Practices Advisory Opinion on September 17 holding that Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) “must provide access” to certain bid and contract data connected to oversight of the state’s public health care programs. Such programs are paid for with state and federal funds, and are largely administered by private, non-profit Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs).

Concerns about health care program oversight resulted in the passage of a 2012 law requiring independent audits of such programs. The law required OLA to hire a third-party vendor to undertake the audit work, starting with the 2014 program year.

ADM’s advisory opinion — 14-011 — pertains to an April 22, 2014, Data Practices Act request submitted by Saint Paul-based transparency organization Public Record Media (PRM). The request sought certain vendor information – including responses to RFPs and signed contracts – from OLA. OLA refused to produce such data, citing Minnesota Statute 3.979. PRM then submitted a request for an advisory opinion, asking for an interpretation of Minnesota law and OLA’s obligations thereunder. ADM subsequently held that much of the information sought by PRM must be made available as “public” data.

Commenting on the Commissioner’s opinion, PRM President Matt Ehling said,

“This is an important matter, and the correct result under the law. The public should be able to examine the identity and credentials of parties hired to audit Minnesota’s public health care programs, and their private HMO administrators.”

On September 19, PRM submitted a follow-up letter to OLA seeking a time to inspect the RFP and contract data sought in its original request.

Links to referenced documents:


Public Record Media to host public records workshop in Duluth

July 14, 2014
St. Paul, Minnesota
– On August 18, 2014, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the main branch of the Duluth Public Library at 520 West Superior Street. The event will run from 6:00pm-8:00pm.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws -including the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act – to obtain government records on topics of interest to them.

The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time public record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by PRM president Matt Ehling.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education.


Public Notice
RE: PRM State and Federal Public Data Requests – Mining Correspondence

March 3, 2014

Saint Paul, Minnesota – This public notice is to provide an update regarding the status of outstanding Public Record Media (PRM) data requests related to Minnesota mining proposals — including the PolyMet NorthMet and Twin Metals proposals — as well as the anticipated timeline for online availability.

The Requests: On November 21, 2013, PRM submitted state and federal public data requests to the following agencies regarding new mining plans and proposals in Minnesota:

  • MN Department of Natural Resources
  • MN Pollution Control Agency
  • US Forest Service
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Department of the Interior

The requests sought both intra-agency and agency-company correspondence, created or transmitted between January 1, 2012 and November 20, 2013, regarding mining plans and proposals in Minnesota and associated land exchanges. The full text of the requests is available here:

http://www.publicrecordmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/MNGDPAMNPCA2013_pd_001.pdf

Delivery Updates: As of this date, PRM has received the following document batches:

  • DNR: Received February, 2014
  • PCA: Received January, 2014
  • USFS [Not yet received]
  • ACE: Received January, 2014
  • EPA: Received February, 2014
  • Interior: [Not yet received]

Each of DNR, PCA, ACE and EPA has represented that their deliveries are complete.

Publication: PRM’s process of making the documents available at www.publicrecordmedia.org is ongoing. If you would like direct access to the data in the interim, please contact
info@publicrecordmedia.com
.


PRM executive director to speak at AAAS National Conference

February 15, 2014

Chicago, Illinois – Matt Ehling, the executive director of Public Record Media, will speak at the 2014 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Mr. Ehling will speak on a panel entitled “Data Availability: Making Sure the Gift Keeps Giving.” His presentation will cover challenges to obtaining data through public records laws. Other presenters include David Reitze of the California Institute of Technology, and Catherine Grosso of Michigan State University.

The abstract of Mr Ehling’s presentation is below:

In 1966, Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which provided the public with unprecedented access to stores of government data. Many states later followed suit, and enacted their own statutory schemes to permit broad-based data accessibility. The open-government architecture that resulted has become a fundamental tool of the press, policy makers, academics, and the public. It has enabled reportage, scientific analysis, historical research, government oversight, and policy formulation.

Despite the existence of sophisticated public information mechanisms, ready access to government data remains elusive in certain circumstances, and several trends are exerting pressure on the nation’s open-government infrastructure. Such trends include the increased use of security claims as a basis for withholding previously public data, increasing agency non-compliance with statutory mandates, recalcitrance on the part of private contractors who hold government data subject to disclosure under public records laws, and a reduction in funding for open government compliance.

An examination of contemporary case studies demonstrates the impact of these trends on government data architectures. An analysis of specific responses to the trends at work in the case studies – ranging from statutory adjustments to court rulings – provides insights into how the nation’s open government architecture may be buttressed or reinvigorated to face current challenges. Specific tools for acquiring government data in the face of agency non-compliance are identified and discussed within the context of current trends.

The presentation will occur on February 15, 2014 from 10:00AM-11:30AM, in the Regency D room of the Hyatt Regency Chicago.


Federal Court orders DOJ to pay Minnesota-based Public Record Media fees in drone case

February 05, 2013

Saint Paul, Minnesota – The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota has ordered the US Department of Justice to pay Minnesota-based Public Record Media fees in its drone-related lawsuit.

PRM filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act in May, 2012, to compel the DOJ to produce documents relating to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to deliver lethal force against persons inside the United States. PRM’s lawsuit was based on DOJ’s November 2011 statement that it possessed and was withholding records responsive to PRM’s FOIA request. Following the initiation of litigation, DOJ changed its position, filing a sworn declaration stating that – as of April 2012 – the agency in fact possessed no records related to the potential use of drones to deliver force within the United States.

In response to PRM’s subsequent motion, the Court agreed that as a result of the government’s change in position and the benefit provided to the public by PRM’s suit, PRM was entitled to fees. In his Order dated January 29, 2013, Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan stated that although PRM’s litigation did not result in the production of documents,

“The public at large can still glean important information … namely, the government does not possess any documents related to the lethal use of UAVs within U.S. jurisdiction.”

PRM’s fee award recognizes that the FOIA cannot function properly if government agencies do not make accurate representations to the public. “In this case, the government did not provide sufficient information in a timely manner under the FOIA,” said JT Haines, PRM’s attorney. “This is the right result, and a victory for transparency.”

Links to Judge Boylan’s order, as well as PRM’s and DOJ’s briefs can be found here:

Order on Motion for Fees and Costs
Memorandum in Support of Motion for Fees and Costs
Defendant’s Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Fees
Plaintiff’s Reply Memorandum in Support of Fees Motion


Public Record Media files suit against Justice Department; seeks legal opinions on use of lethal force by aerial drones inside the United States

May 23, 2012

Saint Paul, Minnesota – On May 22nd, Minnesota-based journalism organization Public Record Media (PRM) filed suit in federal court, seeking access to legal opinions relating to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to deliver lethal force against persons inside the United States.

In October of 2011, PRM sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Justice Department, seeking UAV-related opinions and memoranda. The agency acknowledged that it held responsive documents, but denied the request in its entirety. PRM subsequently filed an administrative appeal. After four months without a response to its appeal, PRM is seeking the documents through litigation.

“It is our contention that the law requires more of the government than they are providing. Given the seriousness of this issue and the implications for fundamental rights, we believe the public has a right to this information,” said JT Haines, a Twin Cities attorney who is handling PRM’s case.

The Obama administration has described its rationale for using lethal force against certain U.S. citizens overseas, but it has yet to release Justice Department documents that fully detail its legal position. Those documents are at the center of at least two other ongoing lawsuits. PRM’s lawsuit seeks the disclosure of legal opinions that expressly deal with how UAVs and lethal force issues might intersect on the domestic front.

“The Obama administration has engaged in a practice of withholding documents that describe the legal framework for government actions,” said Matt Ehling, the president of Public Record Media. “The American public has a right to understand how the government views the scope of its powers – particularly within our borders.”