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Court keeps FOI request on Texas legislator search alive

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Court keeps FOI request on Texas legislator search alive

  • Affidavits of a federal Freedom of Information Officer do not show conclusively that federal agencies really do not have records which might show federal connections to the search in May for Texas Democrats, a judge ruled.

Sep. 26, 2003 — The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit of a congressman from Texas for records showing how federal agencies might have been involved in efforts to forcibly return members of the Texas House of Representatives to their posts is still alive.

A federal district court in Del Rio, Tex., found Sept. 15 that the agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service, had not shown conclusively that they had conducted adequate searches for the requested records in response to Gonzalez’s FOI requests.

The court said that affidavits filed by Florastine Graham, FOI Officer of the U.S. Marshals Service, were not sufficient to convince it that there were no questions as to whether adequate searches had been conducted. Although Graham solicited records from offices, she did not tell how those offices actually determined that they had no relevant records, according to the court.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Tex.), along with Diane Salgado, chair of the Val Verde County Texas Democratic Party, filed an FOI request in late June for any records on any aspect of alleged attempts to use or request the use of Department of Justice resources to locate, arrest or return Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives in May.

The request was made to determine if federal agencies helped Texas Republicans in their effort to locate the 51 Democrats who left the state legislature and spent some time in hiding so that a vote on redistricting could not occur.

(Gonzalez v. Department of Justice; attorney for Gonzalez: Tom Parrelli, Washington, D.C.) RD

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