Case Number: 1:22-cv-02221
Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Clients: Trace Media, Inc. and Will Van Sant
Complaint Filed: July 27, 2022
Background: Between April and October 2021, journalist Will Van Sant submitted eight separate federal Freedom of Information Act requests to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in connection with his reporting for The Trace, a nonprofit news organization covering gun-related news. In these requests, he sought a wide range of records, including communications between government officials at both agencies and a powerful gun lobbyist.
By March 2022, the agencies acknowledged receipt of all eight requests and even granted fee waivers in some cases. However, Van Sant has received a determination in response to just one of those records requests, in which the Justice Department claimed that it could not locate any responsive records. To date, he has received no records — or even portions of records — in response to any of his requests for information.
On behalf of Van Sant and Trace Media, Reporters Committee attorneys filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Justice Department and the ATF for failing to comply with statutory deadlines and unlawfully withholding records in violation of the public records law.