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Alexander v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

March 6, 2000

CARA LESLIE ALEXANDER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth United States District Court

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Further Testimony of Terry Good in Chambers, the Plaintiffs' Motion for Clarification of Time to File Supplemental Memoranda Regarding the Deposition of Terry Good, Defendant Executive Office of the President's (EOP's) Motion for an Extension of Time to File its Supplemental Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions Regarding the Testimony of Terry Good, Non-party Witness Terry Good's Motion for Leave to File a Surreply in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Further Testimony, and Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Surreply Memorandum. Upon consideration of the submissions of the parties and the relevant law, the court will deny Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Further Testimony of Terry Good and deny Plaintiffs' Motion for Clarification of Time to File Supplemental Memoranda. Defendant EOP's Motion for an Extension of Time will be denied as moot. The court will grant Terry Good's Motion to File a Surreply and deny the Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike the Surreply. The court will further deny the Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions, which was deferred per this court's prior order of December 7, 1998. See Alexander v. FBI, Civ. No. 96- 2123, Order at 2.

I. Background

The underlying allegations in this case arise from what has become popularly known as "Filegate." Plaintiffs allege that their privacy interests were violated when the FBI improperly handed over to the White House hundreds of FBI files of former political appointees and government employees under the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

The instant dispute revolves around the deposition of Terry Good, Director of the White House Office of Records Management (ORM). Good was deposed pursuant to a notice of deposition under F ED. R. CIV. P. 30(b)(6), and was designated by defendant EOP to testify on the subject of White House compliance with applicable record-keeping statutes. Plaintiffs first deposed Good on June 30, 1998 and July 2, 1998. At that deposition, Good objected to lines of questioning involving Monica Lewinsky's and Kathleen Willey's ORM file information. Good also testified that it was his understanding that if he didn't remember something "for sure," he was supposed to respond to the question with the answer "I do not recall" or "I do not remember." The deposition transcript revealed that Good had in fact given such answers to several questions, including a question about what was discussed during a cab ride on the very day of the deposition. Accordingly, the plaintiffs then filed before this court a Motion to Compel Further Testimony of Terry Good and for Sanctions. In response to that motion, on December 7, 1998, this court entered an order granting the plaintiffs leave to redepose Good on the following matters:

(a) any matter on which Good's answer was that he "could not recall," "could not remember," or any equivalent thereof;

(b) what Good was told regarding any need to obtain Willey's consent before the release of the information in her files,

(c) whether Good was told that Willey consented to the release,

(d) all details regarding how Good obtained his misunderstanding that he was to answer a question by responding "I do not recall" when his memory was less than certain, and

(e) reasonable follow-up questions on any of these matters. Alexander v. FBI, Civ. No. 96-2123, Order at 1-2 (D.D.C. December 7, 1998).

This court then postponed its ruling on the plaintiffs' motion for sanctions until the redeposition of Good was completed, and ordered that the "[p]laintiffs' supplemental memorandum shall be due 30 days after the completion of Good's deposition." See id. at 2.

Plaintiffs redeposed Terry Good on June 1, 1999. On July 12, 1999, plaintiffs filed their Motion for Clarification of Time to File Supplemental Memoranda Regarding the Deposition of Terry Good. In their motion, the plaintiffs argued that, because they intended to later file a motion to compel further testimony from Good, the time for filing their supplemental memoranda regarding sanctions had not yet begun to run. The deadline, they contend, should be 30 days from the court's ruling on their anticipated motion to compel, and not 30 days after Good's second deposition, or July 1, 1999. Plaintiffs then filed their Motion to Compel Further Testimony from Good on July 26, 1999.

II. Analysis

A. Motion to Compel Further ...


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