In this case, a FOIA requester obtained a court order requiring the FBI to expedite processing of her FOIA request. Thereafter, the FBI produced some records, and the parties had additional disputes over whether other documents were properly exempt. The court ruled in favor of the FBI on the exemption issues. The requester sought an award of attorney fees, arguing that she had prevailed when the court ruled in her favor on the part of her complaint that sought expedited processing. The court, however, held that prevailing on this issue was not enough to entitle a requester to fees. The requester appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Public Citizen has filed a brief in her support, arguing that one of the principal purposes of FOIA is to require that agencies provide access to records promptly, and that a requester who wins a court order requiring an agency to expedite processing of her FOIA request has therefore prevailed on the merits of a FOIA claim and should be entitled to attorney fees.
On August 9, 2005, the court of appeals ruled in the requester’s favor, accepting the argument made in our amicus brief that she had substantially prevailed.