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February 07, 2012

PEER wins FOIA claim v. boundary commission

The #whistleblower group PEER has won a #FOIA fight with the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, a usually obscure group that nonetheless might be hosting some interesting untold stories.

In a 10-page ruling this week, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sided with the Public Employeers for Environmental Responsibility in its effort to secure documents from the boundary and water commission. The conflict dates back to the commission's 2009 removal of its general counsel, Robert McCarthy, and the commission's subsequent hiring of Jackson Lewis to represent it.

PEER, Judge Lamberth explained,  "somehow learned about Mr. McCarthy’s case and the Commission’s hiring of Jackson Lewis, and became concerned that the Commission’s payments to that law firm might constitute misuse of government funds." PEER requested retainer documents and others. The commission, Judge Lamberth summed up, responded with "intransigence.

Whereupon, Judge Lamberth opened his can of judicial whup-ass, as follows:

"At this point, after the Commission has been given multiple opportunities to get it right, it is patently obviousto the Court that the Commission, for reasons unknown, is simply persisting in  blowing-off PEER’s FOIA request.  This is a sad state of affairs that this Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order will begin to rectify."



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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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