Oral arguments set for Thursday in appeal of summary judgment in FOIA Lawsuit seeking records of Government's prosecution of activists

By LOUIS FLORES

Oral arguments in a years-long civil litigation over the Government's authority to prosecute activists for their activism are set to take place on Thursday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at 40 Foley Square, in Courtroom 1703.

In 2013, the publisher of Progress Queens filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking Federal records about the manuals, guidelines, procedures, and protocols that govern when activists get arrested or prosecuted for their activism. After the U.S. Department of Justice failed to process each of the FOIA Request, an administrative appeal, and a remand of the administrative appeal, the publisher of Progress Queens commenced civil litigation in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to compel the release of records, alleging misconduct on the part of the Government before and during proceedings before Federal Court.

After a partial release of records was made, the Government moved to dismiss the complaint, even though a showing was made that responsive records existed or were highly likely to exist. In the FOIA Request and in filings during proceedings before Federal Court, the publisher of Progress Queens provided examples of many activists, who were arrested and prosecuted for their activism by Federal law enforcement agents. Following protracted motion practise, Chief Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann issued a report and recommendation that resolved every controversy and dismissed every dispute of fact in favour of the non-moving party, in violation of civil procedure. The publisher of Progress Queens filed an objection, which U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack rejected, ultimately entering judgment in favour of the Government. The oral arguments sets to cap an appeal filed by the publisher of Progress Queens of the District Court's judgment.

Contradictions exist over the Government's authority to prosecute activists. Government Executive officials, including then President Barack Obama (D) and then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., stressed the legality of activists engaged in activism. Nevertheless, under former President Obama and former U.S. Attorney General Holder, activists were still prosecuted for their activism, including Lt. Daniel Choi, who was discharged under the U.S. Military's discriminatory policy known as, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rukhsanah Singh, from the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's eastern district, has been representing the Agency throughout the civil litigation. After the District Court entered judgment in favour of the Government, the publisher of Progress Queens filed ethics complaints against Assistant U.S. Attorney Singh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George, alleging misconduct on the part of Agency officials that the District Court refused to address.

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