Begleiter v. Department of Defense [Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief]

No. 1:04-cv-01697 (EGS) (2004)

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Begleiter v. Department of Defense [Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief]

United States District Court for the District of Columbia
No. 1:04-cv-01697 (EGS) (2004)

LJ

Facts

[Ed’s note: The casebook excerpt is not a court decision with a rule of law and a holding, but a complaint for declaratory relief. The complaint is summarized below.] Ralph Begleiter (plaintiff) was a journalism professor and foreign media correspondent. Begleiter filed a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the release of still photographs and videos from Dover Air Force Base. Specifically, Begleiter sought photographs and videos depicting the arrival and the memorial ceremonies of deceased military personnel. Begleiter asserted that these materials were necessary in order to educate the public on matters of foreign policy and as part of his academic research. The Department of Defense (DOD) (defendant) initially released 361 photographs. However, prior to fulfilling the remainder of Begleiter’s request, the DOD asserted that the 361 photographs had been released in error and that no additional documents would be provided. The DOD adopted this position because of a 1991 DOD policy that prohibited the news media from capturing images of the coffins of deceased soldiers at military facilities. However, since the 1991 policy was adopted, the DOD has made numerous exceptions and had allowed the media to cover certain events. Additionally, the DOD had also occasionally directly released similar photographs to the media on its own accord. Begleiter filed for injunctive and declaratory relief, specifically requesting a finding that the DOD’s refusal to release the requested records violated FOIA.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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