Cases & Deals

NACDL wins important victory in FOIA lawsuit over Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book

Clients National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Jones Day, serving as pro bono counsel to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), won an important victory before the D.C. Circuit in an action to obtain the Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book. The text, authored by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), was created in response to public furor over "egregious misconduct" by DOJ prosecutors in the case of the late Senator Ted Stevens, whose conviction was vacated after post-trial investigations revealed that prosecutors had withheld significant exculpatory evidence from the defense. DOJ represented to Congress that the Blue Book was developed to educate all federal prosecutors on the government's discovery obligations in criminal cases. After DOJ rejected NACDL's efforts to obtain the Blue Book under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), NACDL filed an action in federal court in D.C. to compel its production. The district court ruled that the Blue Book was protected in its entirety from disclosure as attorney work product. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the lower court's determination that parts of the text were exempt under FOIA, but it remanded for the court to reevaluate its determination that the entire book could be withheld. The Circuit Court held that all reasonably segregable non-exempt statements of the government's discovery policy must be produced.

Nat'l Ass'n of Criminal Def. Lawyers v. D.O.J. Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, No. 15-5051 (D.C. Cir.)