FOIA Roundup: Federal FOIA battles and upcoming ideas on covering COVID-19

FOIA Roundup: Federal FOIA battles and upcoming ideas on covering COVID-19

The weekly update on freedom of information and public records

Written by
Edited by Michael Morisy

States’ reopenings, after weeks of emergency-induced quarantine, have largely been a sort of experiment, one that many now need to adjust as cases and deaths from the deadly virus continue to rise.

This week on MuckRock, check back in for more of what we know about emergency efforts to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) and tune in on Thursday for a conversation between Garance Burke and Professor Julia Raifman about the effects of statewide responses to the crisis.

Interested in staying updated on our work using public records to investigate COVID-19 responses? Sign up for our newsletter.

BuzzFeed battles over FOIA in federal court

Attorneys for the Department of Justice have been given until July 21 to justify its redactions of the Mueller report. The agency is also expected to address questions posed by the judge United States District Court for the District of Columbia as part of a lawsuit brought by Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed.

In another FOIA case being fought by BuzzFeed in the District Court of Columbia, a judge has challenged the DOJ to explain why it granted expedited processing and then closed a request related to Roger Stone, President Trump’s longtime friend whose federal sentence he recently commuted. Jacqueline Thomsen in The National Law Journal has more on the latest in the case.

Join us for a conversation on states’ COVID-19 responses and public health.

Do mask mandates matter? Were governments that shut down schools sooner making the right call? Julia Raifman, assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health, has been organizing the COVID-19 US state policy database (CUSP) to collect and analyze state-wide mandates from across the country to help answer key public healthy policy questions and inform future decision making. This Thursday, she discusses what she’s learned in a question and answer session with Garance Burke, as well as how reporters can benefit from all the materials that the team has published, including hundreds of actual orders on topics ranging from evictions to daycare facilities.

We’ll be having our next webinar, on executive orders and state-wide policies, soon, and you can register here to get updates on this and other trainings.

Some use-of-force policies get adjusted in response to nationwide protests

A McClatchy review of use of force policies shows that 40 of the 100 largest police departments in the United States made changes to their rules around officer force in June. Read more from Shirsho Dasgupta in the Miami Herald.

This election’s battle for the Democratic candidate’s records

Two conservative groups have filed a FOIA suit against the University of Delaware for presidential-hopeful Joe Biden’s senatorial records, which the school acquired in 2012. Read more from Natalia Alamdari at the Delaware News Journal.

See something we should include in our next update? Please let us know.

Image by Parkpay2000 and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.