United States District Court, District of Columbia
KAREN YADIRA RODRIGUEZ GUTIERREZ, on behalf of herself and on behalf of her child, J.G., et al., Plaintiffs,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. FRIEDMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on plaintiffs' motion [Dkt.
No. 14] for limited discovery in advance of the September 20,
2018 hearing on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary
injunction seeking to enjoin defendants from separating
plaintiff J.G. from his mother and grandmother pursuant to
the government's zero-tolerance immigration
policy. The Court also has before it
defendants' opposition [Dkt. No. 21] to the motion and
defendants' motion to supplement their opposition [Dkt.
No. 24]. Upon careful consideration of the parties'
papers, the relevant legal authorities, and the entire record
in this case, the Court will deny the motion for limited
the parties' arguments regarding the relevant legal
standard, the Court finds persuasive the reasoning of Judge
John D. Bates in Guttenberg v. Emery, 26 F.Supp. 3D
88 (D.D.C. 2014). The reasonableness standard is the more
appropriate standard for assessing motions for expedited
discovery, particularly in cases where the expedited
discovery is related to a motion for a preliminary
injunction. See id. at 97-98. Applying the
reasonableness standard here, and in view of the particular
circumstances of this case, the Court will deny
plaintiffs' motion for limited discovery.
plaintiffs seek to issue interrogatories to the Office of
Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”) to identify the
field specialist responsible for the facility where J.G. is
being held. See Motion ¶ 7. Because defendants
have already identified Richard Zapata as the relevant
Federal Field Specialist, the request is denied. See
Opposition at 2.
plaintiffs seek the following discovery from non-party
Crittenton Services for Children and Families
(“Crittenton”), which operates the facility where
J.G. is being held: (1) a corporate deposition of the
Crittenton representative with knowledge of the events
surrounding J.G.'s detention at Crittenton, see
Motion ¶¶ 4, 6; and (2) a third-party subpoena to
Crittenton for all emails relating to J.G. and the contract
between Crittenton and the government with respect to the
housing of J.G., see id. ¶ 5. Plaintiffs
contend that they need this information to “fully
understand what has happened to J.G. while in
Crittenton's care, ” see id. ¶ 4, and
to ascertain whether Crittenton has “the authority to
release J.G., ” see id. ¶¶ 5-6.
Defendants have acknowledged, however, that the Department of
Health and Human Services (“HHS”), and not
Crittenton, has the authority to release J.G. See
Opposition at 2. Furthermore, the allegations in the 66-page
complaint [Dkt. No. 1] and the affidavit of plaintiff Karen
Gutierrez (J.G.'s mother) [Dkt. No. 29-1], in combination
with the declaration [Dkt. No. 19] of Federal Field
Specialist Richard Zapata and the Significant Incident Report
attached thereto, provide sufficient descriptions of
J.G.'s time in Crittenton's care for purposes of
resolving plaintiffs' preliminary injunction motion.
plaintiffs seek the following discovery from defendants and
other entities responsible for enforcing federal immigration
laws: (1) a request for production of documents to Attorney
General Sessions for “all emails and cell phone texts
related to the Zero Tolerance Policy/Family Separation
Policy, ” see Motion ¶ 8; and (2)
requests for production to ORR, HHS, the Department of
Homeland Security, and the Office of the Attorney General for
“all emails and documents relating to their policy
regarding the release of children to their sponsor, including
the changes to the policy that occurred after June 1, 2018,
” see id. ¶ 9. Plaintiffs assert that
changes to the government's zero-tolerance immigration
policy are relevant to their preliminary injunction motion,
while defendants maintain that the policy is irrelevant to
this case. See Opposition at 4-5. See also
Defendants' Motion to Supplement Opposition [Dkt. No.
24]; Defendants' Errata to Opposition [Dkt. No. 25].
Given the breadth of these requests, and in light of the
allegations in the complaint and the declaration of Federal
Field Specialist Richard Zapata, expedited discovery is not
warranted at this stage.
final matter, in their opposition, defendants state that
plaintiffs have served on Attorney General Sessions and on
the Director of ORR subpoenas for testimony and production of
documents at the preliminary injunction hearing. See
Opposition at 2. By separate order issued yesterday, the
Court advised the parties that a request to quash a subpoena
must be made by separate motion and may not be contained
solely in an opposition to another party's motion.
See September 17, 2018 Order [Dkt. No. 27].
foregoing reasons, it is hereby
that plaintiffs' motion [Dkt. No. 14] for limited
discovery in advance of the September 20, 2018 preliminary
injunction hearing is DENIED.
 As the Court has previously explained,
the Court intends to treat plaintiffs' motion [Dkt. No.
4] for a temporary restraining order as a motion for a
preliminary injunction. See ...