Law Library Stacks
courtesy of Mr. T in DC
The Washington Post ran an editorial on June 30th opining that perhaps the District shouldn’t be seeking new FOIA exemptions during a time when corruption scandals seem to be plentiful. July 3rd saw a response from DC Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan asserting that this is more about balancing extensively broad requests against the limited time available to make sure they don’t disclose sensitive information.
My suggestion would be that the next time the administration wants to put forth this sort of claim they might want to have it penned by someone whose office wasn’t given a vicious beatdown by a DC Superior Court judge for their rubber-stamping of records request denials… on the entirely false basis that there’s sensitive information in them.
I don’t think turnaround time is your problem, Mr Nathan. Perjuring one’s self, as Judge Macaluso asserts Assistant Chief of Police Patrick Burke and Assistant Attorney Chad W Copeland did when they claimed everything in a FOIA request was privileged or too difficult to redact, can be done quite quickly. Admittedly the time spent in court when someone calls you out on it is time consuming, but you make your trade-offs, yes?
If DC government isn’t responsibly using the exemptions currently given them, and lacks time to asses them properly – without lying, anyway – then how does adding more exemptions streamline the process?
Irv Nathan also fundamentally misstates the point of a Freedom of Information Act in his letter to the editor. There’s absolutely no similarity between a subpoena issued to a private business or member of the public and an FOI law. The latter exists, in part, to allow members of the public to harass the government, because that’s the only way we can keep them honest (so you can further argue that the ability to harass government officials is even MORE necessary in DC than other states, I suppose).
In any event, a FOI law is the result of a decision that citizens NEED the ability to oversee their government; laws allowing the issuance of subpoenas have always been limited to protect citizens FROM government abuse and harassment.
That didn’t even seem worth addressing to me; the obvious response to that is “a business isn’t paid for and existant to serve all citizens, dumbass.” It’s hard to see it as anything other than a disingenuous effort to garner sympathy. “Oh poor us, wouldn’t it be awful to have to live up to this standard?”
If it’s too much for you, AG Nathan, go into private practice. I’m not getting any sense that I, for one, would miss you.