United States District Court, District of Columbia
SAIFULIAH PARACHA, Petitioner.
DONALD J. TRUMP, et al. Respondents.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. FRIEDMAN, UNITED STALES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on respondents" October 21,
2019 motion to exclude two documents from the discovery
obligations imposed by the Amended Case Management Order in
this matter, see Dkt. No. 219; the Court's May 30, 2019
Memorandum Opinion and Scheduling Order, see Dkt. No. 515;
and the Court's June 12, 2019 Discovery Order, see Dkt.
No. 517. Respondents' classified motion is ex
parte, in camera, and under seal: it is
reflected in a notice of filing on the public docket. See
Dkt. No. 547. For the reasons described below,
respondents' motion is granted.
ID of the Case Management Order, as amended, imposes on
respondents an ongoing obligation to disclose to petitioner
all reasonably available exculpatory information: Section
I.E. imposes obligations to disclose certain other documents
when requested by petitioner. See Case Management Order. Dkt.
No. 204. at 2-3: Amended Case Management Order. Dkt. No. 219.
at 2 3: Order. Dkt, No. 308, at 3 4 (revising certain
provisions in the Case Management Order). Under the Amended
Case Management Order, respondents must provide these
disclosures to petitioner's appropriately cleared counsel
even if the information is Classified. There is one
exception. set forth in Section IF: "If the government
objects lo providing she petitioner's counsel with the
classified information, the government shah move for an
exception to disclosure." See Dkt. No. 219 at 3. The
Court has granted respondents' two previous ex pane
Section IF motions. See Dkt. Nos. 524, 545.
present Section I.F motion, respondents seek additional
exceptions from disclosure with respect to two classified
documents that would otherwise be discoverable under the
Court's June 12, 2019 Discovery Order. In that Discovery
Order, the Court granted Mr. Paracha's request that the
respondents be required to produce "phone or email
records possessed by respondents for any phone number or
email address associated with Mr. Paracha."
See. Dkt. No. 517 at 4, 6, Production of most of
these records is already complete; the instant motion
concerns two records whose production required additional
clearances from government stakeholders. See Motion at 2.
Respondents have already provided Mr. Paracha with a
classified substitute for the two documents, and now seek the
Court's leave to withhold from discovery the underlying
classified documents themselves. See id.,
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit has determined when a court may order production of
classified information in a civil matter over the
government's objection. Sec Al Odah v. United
States, 559 F, 3d 539 (D.C Or. 2009). To order
production of such information, the Court must find (1) that
"the information is both relevant and material" in
the sense that it is at least helpful to the petitioner's
habeas case. Id. at 544; (2) that "access by
petitioner's counsel ... is necessary to facilitate
[meaningful habeas] review." Id. at 545: and
(3) that "alternatives to disclosure would not
effectively substitute for unredacted access."
id., at 547. The materiality requirement is met only
for "information that is exculpatory. that undermines
the reliability of other purportedly ineulpatory evidence, or
that names potential witnesses capable of providing material
evidence.'" Id. at 546. In a previous
Memorandum Opinion on the Case Management Order that applies
to this matter. Judge Hogan ruled that “the Al
Odah framework ... is applicable'' to ail of the
Guantanamo habeas petitions consolidated in This District.
See In re Guantanamo Bay Detainee Litigation, 6.14
F.Supp.2d 17, 24 (D.D.C. 2009).
Court has reviewed the complete and un-redacted versions of
both of the documents at issue in the present motion,
respondents' arguments and supporting declarations. and
the classified substitute that the respondents have already
produced. The Court finds that none of the classified
information from the documents that has been omitted from the
substitute provided to Mr. Paracha is material or necessary
for meaningful habeas review, and that disclosing the
information could imperil the national security of the United
States. The Court further finds that the classified
substitute that respondents have produced to Mr. Paracha does
provide a sufficient alternative for all of the relevant and
material information in the two documents at issue in this
motion. Under the Al Odah standard, the
government may not be compelled to produce the underlying
documents themselves. See Motion at 4. 8
(identifying the classified documents with specificity).
Accordingly, it is hereby
that respondents' October 21, 2019 ex parte motion, see
Dkt. No. 547. is GRANTED: and it is
ORDERED that respondents need not produce the two documents