In re: Hillary Clinton, No. 20-5056 (D.C. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Petitioners, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary Clinton's former Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, sought mandamus relief preventing the district court's order granting Judicial Watch's request to depose each petitioner on a limited set of topics. The petition for writ of mandamus arose from a Freedom of Information Act case brought by Judicial Watch against the U.S. Department of State.
The DC Circuit held that, although Secretary Clinton meets all three requirements for mandamus relief, Ms. Mills does not. In this case, Ms. Mills could appeal either a civil or a criminal contempt adjudication and thus, unlike Secretary Clinton, she does have available an "adequate means to attain the relief" and as such her petition fails at prong one. In regard to the second prong, the court held that petitioners have demonstrated a "clear and indisputable" right to issuance of the writ where the district court clearly abused its discretion by failing to meet its obligations under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, by improperly engaging in a Federal Records Act-like inquiry in this FOIA case, and by ordering further discovery without addressing this court's recent precedent potentially foreclosing any rationale for said discovery. Finally, in regard to the third prong, the court held that the totality of circumstances merits granting the writ. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for mandamus as to Secretary Clinton, denied it as to Ms. Mills and dismissed Ms. Mills' petition for lack of jurisdiction, and remanded the case for further proceedings.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on August 31, 2020.