John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corporation Page 18

John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corporation general information

Media for John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 02, 1989 in John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corporation

John Paul Stevens:

Mr. Kneedler, if you read it that broadly really... your reading is that records or information in the possession of a law enforcement agency if it meets any other--

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--No, it has... it has... it has to be focused on a particular, under, under 7(a) it would have to be focused on a particular law enforcement proceeding or investigation.

John Paul Stevens:

--I understand, but as long as it is in the possession of an agency and meets some... any of the six other requirements, you would say it had been compiled.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

It, it would have to be... it would have to be in the possession for law enforcement purposes.

John Paul Stevens:

Well, I understand.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

In other words, in, in DCAA they would have a lot of information but once it becomes refocused--

John Paul Stevens:

Right, but compiled means in possession of, I think in your, your definition?

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--No, it doesn't... well, compiled, compiled, compiled means--

John Paul Stevens:

In your view, could anything in the possession of the agency for law enforcement purposes that meets these requirements not be compiled within the meaning of the statute?

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--No, there... there, there also has to be an affirmative designation or selection of the document, or listing, identification of the document as germane to the law enforcement investigation.

And that, and that is exactly what happened here in response during the ten-day period when the agency had to decide whether to release it or, or keep it.

It concluded that it was relevant to the investigation.

So that is the length that is necessary.

Antonin Scalia:

So under your theory, an agency could issue, the FBI could issue a notice to all agencies in the government saying X corporation is under investigation, we are interested in what kind of... what kind of... FOIA documents this corporation is trying to get in, in anticipating defense of this suit.

Therefore, whenever you get a FOIA request from this corporation let us know and we want to, we want to see the document, because it is relevant to our investigation.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

No, it... it... it's... first of all, a court may be able to examine those facts and see whether it is sufficiently relevant to a concrete, focused investigation.

And secondly, the harms that Exemption 7 are designed to protect against is the principal protection against an overbroad application of the exemption.

William H. Rehnquist:

Thank you, Mr. Kneedler.

The case is submitted.