Civics: D.C. Police Department Allegedly Has Policy of Delaying/Denying FOIA Requests That May Lead to Criticism

Eugene Volokh:

This suit alleges that the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department plays favorites in how it responds to requests for information under the local Freedom of Information Act. Plaintiff Amy Phillips, a public defender, contends that the District unlawfully flags FOIA requests from people critical of MPD, which leads to response delays and denials and constitutes a violation of her First Amendment rights….

Taking the facts as laid out by Plaintiff to be true, which the Court must do at this stage, the genesis of the controversy lies in an Adverse Action Hearing held by MPD’s Disciplinary Review Division in March 2019 to adjudicate alleged misconduct by a former officer. Phillips, who is a criminal-defense attorney in the District and an “outspoken critic of MPD,” attended the March 2019 hearings and soon after submitted a FOIA request to MPD for tapes and transcripts of the proceedings [as she had done before on other occasions]…. The request was denied in full less than ninety minutes after it was submitted…. After an appeal to the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel and a suit in D.C. Superior Court that was covered in the local news, MPD began producing documents responsive to Phillips’s requests in September 2019, albeit with redactions Plaintiff believes are unwarranted.

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