The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kennedy, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
In this action, plaintiff, Judicial Watch, Inc. (Judicial Watch),
seeks judicial review of the response of defendant, the United States
Department of Justice (DOJ), to Judicial Watch's request under the
Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C.A. § 552 (West 1996) (FOIA).
Specifically, Judicial Watch challenges DOJ's refusal to release certain
documents, DOJ's decision to deny Judicial Watch a fee waiver, and DOJ's
decision not to categorize Judicial Watch as a representative of the
news media. Presently before the court is DOJ's motion for partial
summary judgment with respect
to DOJ components the Office of Information and Privacy (OIP) and the
Civil Division on the fee-waiver and fee-category issues. Having
reviewed DOJ's motion for partial summary judgment, the opposition
thereto, and the record of the case, the court concludes that DOJ's
motion should be granted.
On October 28, 1998, Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to DOJ
all correspondence, memoranda, documents, records,
lists of names, applications, diskettes, letters,
expense logs and receipts, calendar or diary logs,
facsimile logs, telephone records, tape recordings,
notes, electronic mail, and other documents and
things, that refer or relate to the following in
5) Microsoft Corporation;
6) Netscape Communications Corporation;
Judicial Watch stated that it would "use the requested material to
promote accountable government as a representative of the news
media,"*fn1 and requested a blanket fee waiver.
On November 10, 1998, Margaret Ann Irving, Deputy Director of OIP,
acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch's request and "advised [Judicial
Watch] that searches were being conducted . . . ."*fn2 The same letter
notified Judicial Watch of OIP's decision to deny it a fee waiver and to
categorize Judicial Watch as an "all other" requester, rather than as a
"representative of the news media."*fn3 In a follow-up letter on
November 23, 1998, OIP informed Judicial Watch that it had completed the
two hours of search time and duplication of 100 pages of records that
FOIA allots requesters free of charge. OIP also advised Judicial Watch
that it would suspend processing of the request until Judicial Watch
promised to pay search and duplication fees. Judicial Watch appealed the
agency's decision on January 11, 1999, and OIP upheld its decision.
On January 28, 1999, the Civil Division also denied Judicial Watch's
fee-waiver and fee-category requests. The Civil Division informed
Judicial Watch that it had concluded the required two hours of search
time, and attached to the letter a list of case files located by the
search. The Civil Division advised Judicial Watch that it would not
continue processing Judicial Watch's request unless Judicial Watch
executed a "written agreement to be bound for fees."*fn4 On ...