FOIA Letter Generator

FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act. But what is it, exactly?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. – From What is FOIA?

You can learn more about the FOIA from foia.gov, a website containing everything you may need to know about the FOIA, including data and statistics plus FAQs, answered by the US Department of Justice.

How can you go about making a FOIA request? One tool is the FOIA Letter Generator which is produced by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a legal advocacy group for journalists. This tool:

… offers templates for putting together FOIA requests and follow-up paperwork for both the federal and state governments.

As one of my colleagues put it:

What I find especially interesting: if you scroll down to “State letter” and choose New Jersey, you’ll see a short outline of hyperlinks before the various fields to be filled in.  These actually link to annotations (case cites, court rules, and the NJSA) that pertain to the request process.

It may not always be as easy as described. That’s why The Center for Investigative Reporting is planning a FOIA Machine Project that is supposed to be a FOIA Letter Generator Plus, in that it will guide users through a “do-it-yourself” freedom of information request. Learn how to support this project at its kickstarter page.

Written by CDS and GBT.

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Judicial Internships, Externships & Clerkships

It’s that time of year, again.

Many first-year students (and probably some 2Ls and 3Ls) are applying, or have already applied for, internships, externships, or clerkships with local state and federal judges. While some of you have an idea of the most important criteria for applying or accepting a position, consider supplementing your considerations with other practical information about the judges for whom you might be interested in working.

The interview is critical for any job, especially for such competitive positions. In some cases, having some background information on a judge you wish to work for can lend insight into that judge, and can give you an edge over other potential candidates. Information can include the judge’s career summary, case history, current docket, and more. Here are some sources to get your research started:

Judgepedia.org
This free Wikipedia site allows you to search for or browse judges by state. Information includes: Education, career, and awards & associations.

Almanac of the Federal Judiciary on Westlaw Next
This well-known resource provides objective judicial profiles of every federal judge (including bankruptcy judges and magistrates) from interviews with the lawyers that have argued before them. Information includes each judge’s academic and professional background, experience on the bench, noteworthy rulings, and media coverage along with candid, revealing commentary by lawyers.

Litigation Profile Suite on Lexis Advance
Information includes rulings history, jury verdicts & settlements, dockets, cases, news coverage, publications, and more.

People Search on Bloomberg Law
Though it does not explicitly state what types of people can be searched, the People Search can provide really in-depth information about a particular judge. This information includes career history & education, cases, news, and more.

If you have any questions about applying for job, please contact the Career Planning Office.

If you have any questions about the resources mentioned, please contact a Reference Librarian.

CDS