Imagine my surprise to get a Google alert with a link to the ruling in the appeal of Brayton v Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, a lawsuit I filed several years ago against the Bush administration for refusing a FOIA request for the settlement agreement they had signed with the European Union in a World Trade Order dispute over our attempts to prevent online gambling.
Before the district court ruled in that lawsuit, the USTR suddenly changed their mind and turned over the document we were suing over. But my attorneys, from the group Public Citizen, who were working pro bono, wanted to recover legal fees. When the district court refused to award them, they asked my permission to file an appeal and I agreed. And then I completely forgot about the case.
Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has upheld the lower court’s decision not to award legal fees in the case. You can find the full ruling here, if for some reason you care. I don’t. But it is kind of amusing to see the ruling say, repeatedly, “Brayton argues (fill in the blank)” or “Brayton urges the court to do X” in a case that I literally had nothing to do with.
I do wish the attorneys from Public Citizen could have recovered the legal fees. We need to send a message to government agencies that they cannot reject FOIA requests on illegitimate grounds and be allowed to get away with it.