Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Lead Charge Data Availability:
Federal Prosecutor Database

Reversing more than a decade-long disclosure policy, the Justice Department announced in March 2000 that it would no longer release all transactional records on the activities of federal prosecutors. TRAC's co-directors have sued them in federal district court challenging this withholding as unlawful under the Freedom of Information Act (Long and Burnham vs. DOJ).

Pressed in court, the Department released some records but withheld over 5 million records -- approximately half of the records in its national criminal databases, and about 10 percent of the records in its civil data bases. Records withheld concerned any matter -- whether or not disposed of -- that had not been filed in court, records concerning fugitives, and civil referrals (including matters in which the government was being sued) as well as matters in pre-trial conference stage. Playing a delaying game, the government filed court papers twice and then withdrew them each time stating they were inaccurate and in error.

Finally under court order to release all data it was not claiming to be exempt by the end of October 2001, the government reversed itself again and decided that the over 5 million records it had withhold could be released. Litigation continues over withholding of specific fields of information in the records the Justice Department released to TRAC. The government made additional releases in November of 2001 and February 2002. See foia news for the latest developments in this case.

Criminal Database: The government's withholding currently affects the scope of available criminal data on this site. Particularly affected are records which involve pending referrals for FY1999 to date. For these records the government has withheld lead charge.

Civil Database: The government initially withheld records from its civil data. But it has now released to TRAC all records, although it is continuing to withhold some fields and litigation is continuing to secure access to these.

Copyright 2002, TRAC Reports, Inc.