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District of Columbia v. Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP

The District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act (DC FOIA) requires public bodies within the District to post categories of records online without a written request. In this case, the District denied a request from Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP (TPM) for budget-related records that fall within one of those categories. TPM then filed a lawsuit in DC Superior Court. The court granted summary judgment to TPM and ordered the District to produce the documents requested by TPM and to post the required records online. The District appealed, arguing, among other things, that DC FOIA does not provide for private enforcement of the law’s posting requirement, that the only injunctive remedy available to someone seeking information under DC FOIA is to obtain copies of the requested documents, and that the Superior Court lacked authority to order prospective publication.

On behalf of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Public Citizen, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Washington, D.C. Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, we filed an amicus brief countering the District’s arguments. The brief explains that DC FOIA’s administrative appeal and judicial review provisions authorize actions seeking to enforce the statute’s posting requirements and allow courts to order public bodies to comply with those requirements.