32 CFR 286.25 - Judicial actions.
(1) This section states current legal and procedural rules for the convenience of the reader. The statemetns of rules do not create rights or remedies not otherwise available, nor do they bind the Department of Defense to particular judicial interpretations or procedures.
(2) A requester may seek an order from a U.S. District Court to compel release of a record after administrative remedies have been exhausted; i.e., when refused a record by the head of a Component or an appellate designee or when the DoD Component has failed to respond with the time limits prescribed by the FOIA and in this part.
(b) Jurisdiction. The requester may bring suit in the U.S. District Court in the district in which the requester resides or is the requesters place of business, in the district in which the record is located, or in the District of Columbia.
(c) Burden of proof. The burden of proof is on the DoD Component to justify its refusal to provide a record. The court shall evaluate the case de novo (anew) and may elect to examine any requester record in camera (in private) to determine whether the denial was justified.
(d) Actions by the court.
(1) When a DoD Component has failed to make a determination within the statutory time limits but can demonstrate due diligence in exceptional circumstances, to include negotiating with the requester to modify the scope of their request, the court may retain jurisdiction and allow the Component additional time to complete its review of the records.
(2) If the court determines that the requester's complaint is substantially correct, it may require the United States to pay reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs.
(3) When the court orders the release of denied records, it may also issue a written finding that the circumstances surrounding the witholding raise questions whether DoD Component personnel acted arbitrarily and capriciously. In these cases, the special counsel of the Merit System Protection Board shall conduct an investigation to determine whether or not disciplinary action is warranted. The DoD Component is obligated to take the action recommended by the special counsel.
(4) The court may punish the responsible official for contempt when a DoD Component fails to comply with the court order to produce records that it determines have been withheld improperly.
(e) Non-United States government source information. A requester may bring suit in a U.S. District Court to compel the release of records obtained from a non-government source or records based on information obtained from a non-government source. Such source shall be notified promptly of the court action. When the source advises that it is seeking court action to prevent release, the DoD Component shall defer answering or otherwise pleading to the complainant as long as permitted by the Court or until a decision is rendered in the court action of the source, whichever is sooner.
(f) FOIA litigation. Personnel responsible for processing FOIA requests at the DoD Component level shall be aware of litigation under the FOIA. Such information will provide management insights into the use of the nine exemptions by Component personnel. Whenever a complaint under the FOIA is filed in a U.S. District Court, the DoD Component named in the complaint shall forward a copy of the complaint by any means to the Director, Freedom of Information and Security Review with an information copy to the DoD Office of the General counsel, ATTN: Office of Legal Counsel.