By Christopher Zoukis

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court’s order allowing across-the-board redactions by the government in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted a FOIA request to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), seeking disclosure of records concerning complaints against immigration judges and the resolutions of such complaints. Federal officials produced the records but redacted the names of the immigration judges and other information. The district court upheld the redactions.

On appeal, the D.C. Circuit held the across-the-board redactions of the names of immigration judges did not satisfy the government’s duty to respond, and remanded that issue for the district court to reconsider the application of certain FOIA exemptions. Further, the Court of Appeals found the DOJ’s redaction of the records on the basis that they were non-responsive to the FOIA request, when there was no statutory exemption authorizing such redactions, was improper.

However, the appellate court upheld the DOJ’s redaction of the complaint resolutions involving immigration judges because they were not final opinions or orders, and thus outside the government’s responsibility to disclose under FOIA. The case was reversed in part and affirmed in part. See: American Immigration Lawyers Association v. Executive Office for Immigration Review, 830 F.3d 667 (D.C. Cir. 2016).

Following remand, the DOJ produced records that it had previously refused to disclose because they were non-responsive to the FOIA request. The case remains pending.

Additional source:

Related legal case

American Immigration Lawyers Association v. Executive Office for Immigration Review

This article originally appeared in Prison Legal News on [Month Day], 2017.

About Christopher Zoukis
Christopher Zoukis is an outspoken prisoner rights and correctional education advocate who is incarcerated at FCI Petersburg Medium in Virginia. He is an award-winning writer whose work has been published widely in major publications such as The Huffington Post, Prison Legal News, New York Daily News and various other print and online publications. Learn more about Christopher Zoukis at and



About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).