The Freedom of Information Act Trial

Margaret B. Kwoka

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

December 2011

American University Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, 2011

This Article examines the paucity of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) cases that go to trial and courts’ preference for resolving these disputes at the summary judgment stage. Using traditional legal analysis and empirical evidence, this Article explores whether we should expect FOIA cases to go to trial and how the scarcity of FOIA trials compares to the trial rate in civil litigation generally. It concludes that the unusual use of summary judgment in FOIA cases has unjustifiably all but eliminated FOIA trials, which occur in less than 1% of FOIA cases. It further examines how conducting FOIA trials in appropriate cases might increase the frequency of pro-transparency case outcomes as intended under the Act, using both empirical analysis and qualitative conclusions from interviews with attorneys who have litigated FOIA trials.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 62

Keywords: Civil Trials, Trial Rate, Summary Judgment, Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, Empirical, Government Transparency, Administrative Law, Standard of Review

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: January 19, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Kwoka, Margaret B., The Freedom of Information Act Trial (December 2011). American University Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1987205

Contact Information

Margaret B. Kwoka (Contact Author)
University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )
2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.du.edu/index.php/profile/margaret-kwoka

Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,051
Downloads: 166
Download Rank: 138,983