IJ Spath Hiring Records

Matthew Hoppock filed this request with the Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review of the United States of America.
Tracking #

2018-48380, DOJ-AP-2019-002934





From: Matthew Hoppock

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

1. The records related to the process of hiring Immigration Judge Vance Spath.
2. The e-mail messages to or from any EOIR employee from January 1, 2015 and January 8, 2018 mentioning the word "Spath"

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Matthew Hoppock

From: Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Matthew Hoppock

This is an appeal related to the redaction of certain e-mail messages produced in response to FOIA Request Number 2019-09045. The e-mail messages were produced on January 28, 2019, but they contain a series of redactions that are improper.

First, numerous e-mails were produced where a large portions of the page are blocked with a redaction that says "Not a responsive record." This is not a proper exemption. The request was for e-mail messages, which necessarily includes messages in a string of replies and responses. Blocking earlier messages in the string because they're not specifically "responsive" to the request is improper, because it is often impossible to determine the meaning of the reply without seeing what the person was responding to. More importantly, when a person hits "reply" and chooses to leave the e-mail they are responding to in the e-mail body below what they write, they necessarily incorporate the prior e-mail messages in the string into their own e-mail. None of the redactions labeled "Not a Responsive Record" are proper, because each involves e-mail strings as described here.

Second, numerous e-mail messages are redacted with the message "duplicate" written over the redaction box. These are improper redactions. There is no FOIA exemption for "duplicate" records. And when it comes to e-mail messages, seeing the entire string is often necessary to determine why the final e-mail says what it says. Also, this case involves numerous versions of the same e-mails, some of which were then printed and written on by hand. One of the redactions that says "duplicate" appears to cover up a portion of text containing highlighting (the May 11, 2018 5:30 PM e-mail from Kate Sheehey to James McHenry). Withholding e-mail messages because they purport to duplicate other versions of the same e-mails prevents us from determining what writer meant.

Finally, none of the b5 or and b6 exemptions are proper, because the EOIR did not describe what was being redacted or provide a Vaughn index with the redactions to be able to meaningfully determine what was withheld. Without the same, we are unable to confirm that any of the b5 and b6 redactions are proper.


This message is to notify you of a new appeal submission to the FOIAonline application. Appeal information is as follows:
* Appeal Tracking Number: DOJ-AP-2019-002934
* Request Tracking Number: 2019-09045
* Requester Name: Matthew Hoppock
* Date Submitted: 03/01/2019
* Appeal Status: Submitted
* Description: EOIR Appeal


The Office of Information Policy has made its final determination on your FOIA Appeal Number DOJ-AP-2019-002934 .  A copy of this determination is enclosed for your review, along with any enclosures, if applicable.  Thank you.