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Monday, May 10, 2010

Freedom of Information Act Suit against the EPA - Continues

This week's meeting with the US Attorney defending the EPA was cordial and cooperative as to the administrative issues relating to the case. As to obtaining the documents, the government's position is clear and unwavering – the government will fight this case for as long and as hard as it requires so that no other documents are released.

The justifications posed: there is a public health concern; that We the People have a right to know; that the documents contain no military or other security details that would jeopardize our safety; that the environment was contaminated – and more were unpersuasive.

So, onto preparing for a trial. The following was submitted subsequent to the meeting as a case status report.

1. Status of Case

This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filed with this court September 8, 2009 and the Defendant was duly served on December 11, 2009. This action followstwo years of the Defendant not meeting its legal duty to respond to the Plaintiff's FOIA request within the required time.


 

The Plaintiff has not received all of the documents in the possession of the Defendant. Additionally, the Defendant's position (via a motion presently in front of the court)is that itis obligated to produce some abridged list enumerating the documents that they claim exist. If this is correct, then why has such list not been produced.


 

Hence, an action brought forth because of public health and environmental ramifications is once again up to the Defendant to comply.

2. Discovery

This case is presently a Track Two case, and as such the Plaintiff is entitled to discovery starting immediately after the initial conference. Said conference was had on May 7, 2010 and at that time the Plaintiff offered to serve discovery on the Defendant. The Defendant stated that the discovery would be contested via motions. So as not to burden the Defendant's counsel, the Plaintiff volunteered to not submit the already prepared discovery requests until the court rules on the Defendant's motion and Plaintiff's answer to change this case to a Track One case.

However, the Plaintiff is entitled to all manner of discovery.

The Defendant has refused to produce all of the documents in their possession as required by the Plaintiff's initial Freedom of Information Act request made nearly two years ago. Since the subject matter of the documents involves contaminationdeleterious to the public and the environment, the documents requested by the Plaintiff are of extreme public interest.

The Plaintiff believes that neither the public nor the court should rely solely on some summarized list enumerating the documents that the Defendant opts to note. Hence the only means by which to inform the public as to their health consequences, and that of the environment, and to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, is by the Plaintiff seeking discovery and having the Defendant comply with the law – neither of which has yet to occur.

3. Scheduling

The Plaintiff asks for expediency without compromising his right to discovery.

Opinion
It appears that the government is fighting this case just because it can – simply because the established rules and protocols are overwhelmingly in the government's favor. Which, as odd as it appears, the government is NOT us.

The only other rational explanation, assuming the government is rational, is that there is some damming information that it just does not want the public to see.

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