For the Record: Epstein court documents, backlog of FOIA requests and more

For the Record: Epstein court documents, backlog of FOIA requests and more

Written by
Edited by Derek Kravitz

Public interest in the Jeffrey Epstein case continues, with the newly-unsealed court documents related to Epstein’s high-profile friends and acquaintances. The release caused outages across various websites, including DocumentCloud, as reported in Axios.

Documents hosted on our site received millions of views, with an extremely high volume of keyword searches temporarily crashing the site. Our site is now back up and running.

Have a tip or submission to include in For the Record? Email MuckRock’s engagement journalist, Kelly Kauffman, at

The Update

  • Backlog of FOIA requests continues to grow: A backlog of pending Freedom of Information Act requests at federal agencies “continues to persist, indicating that agencies are not keeping pace with the number of requests received,” according to the Congressional Research Service, reports Fedweek. The backlog grew from about 131,000 to about 207,000 over fiscal years 2018 to 2022.

  • Expenses related to sexual harassment in Tennessee exempt from public records: A county judge in Tennessee ruled that expenses related to handling the sexual harassment of a 19-year-old legislative intern by a state lawmaker are exempt from the public records law, the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government reports.

  • New digitization project will offer the public access to Montana historical newspapers: The Montana Historical Society announced two major digitization projects to improve and expand access to historical Montana newspapers, which will offer free public access to search for more than 2.5 million pages of historical newspapers, reports NBC Montana.

  • Judge rules in favor of National Press Club in FOIA case: The National Press Club Journalism Institute filed a FOIA request for all of the agency’s communications regarding the detainment of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto. Now, a federal judge has ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to justify its withholding of information about Soto.

  • New legal director for New Mexico’s open government org: The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government announced it has hired Amanda Lavin as its first legal director. Most recently, Lavin was a trial lawyer with the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Albuquerque.

FOIA Finds

  • DocumentCloud surge following release of Epstein court documents: Following the release of court documents related to Jeffrey Epstein, DocumentCloud ended up serving 62 terabytes of documents related to his sexual assault case and civil lawsuits, with 3.62 million people viewing those court documents.

  • Lack of mental health services in VA hospitals: Some veterans are facing lack of proper psychiatric care at Veterans Affairs hospitals, ProPublica reports. A proposal to increase one hospital’s virtual mental health program, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, found that Northern California VA leaders were only able to draw quality applicants for vacant positions that were virtual.

  • Missing person’s case in the Ozarks: Daniel Wu at The Washington Post highlights how a missing person’s case in the Ozarks drew the attention of a local YouTuber and how he used a Freedom of Information Act request in his research.