Detroit Free Press v. Dep't of Justice, No. 14-1670 (6th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In 1996 (Free Press I), the Sixth Circuit held that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, requires government agencies to honor requests for the booking photographs of criminal defendants who have appeared in court during ongoing proceedings. Despite that holding, the U.S. Marshals Service denied the Free Press’s 2012 request for the booking photographs of Detroit-area police officers indicted on federal charges. The district court, bound by Free Press I, granted summary judgment to the newspaper in the ensuing lawsuit. A Sixth Circuit panel affirmed in 2015, while urging the full court to reconsider the merits of Free Press I. The court subsequently reversed, overruling Free Press I. FOIA Exemption 7(C) protects a non-trivial privacy interest in keeping “personal facts away from the public eye.” Individuals do not forfeit their interest in maintaining control over information that has been made public in some form. Criminal defendants do not forfeit their interest in controlling private information while their cases remain pending.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on August 12, 2015.