District Superior Court Judge Stuart Nash harshly criticized the District of Columbia’s litigation tactics effectively resisting his previous order to release documents in a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request concerning the city’s planned development of historic landmark McMillan Park. During a June 19, 2015 hearing, Judge Nash severely reprimanded lawyers representing the District Government, stating that the District unnecessarily delayed the production of documents that Judge Nash had already ordered released.
At the June 19, 2015 hearing, Judge Nash said he found it very troubling to see how the District had chosen to litigate this case, prolonging it in spite of the statutory requirement to produce documents quickly. He had already reamed the District’s attorneys at an earlier hearing, in October 2014, shortly after they filed an appeal that Judge Nash indicated must be respected. But Judge Nash suggested that his patience was tried by this tactic that he saw as “dilatory device,” part of what Judge Nash saw as a litigating strategy of delaying the case from moving forward. He noted that the District had not yet produced any documents ordered by the court and suggested that it was unlikely that the District had any justification for continuing to withhold the requested documents against his order.
Judge Nash also said that he shared Vining’s frustration, stating that “here we have his democratically elected government which is operating against him and not vindicating rights that have been provided to him by the D.C. counsel and it is not the District’s finest hour.”
On June 25, 2015, following an in-camera review of some additional materials, Judge Nash ordered the release of the last remaining requested documents in this case that began in November, 2013. Judge Nash had ordered the documents released a year before, but the District delayed the release through what Judge Nash called “a frivolous appeal” that he said amounted to an “abuse of the appellate process” to evade his order, according to the transcript of this case. Well over 10,000 pages of documents were finally produced in this case, about a year and a half after its inception. Kirby Vining was represented in this suit by Don Padou, a lawyer who specializes in FOIA cases.
The article above is based on the document “Transcript Vining v DC June 19 2015” available in the “Court Documents” folder at the following location: