Published Aug 22, 2022
From January through June of this year, federal prosecutors made 883 applications to federal judges to authorize search warrants and issue subpoenas or a summons, according to the most current government records. A long list of federal agencies were the requesters, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation topped the rolls with 309 requests, 35 percent of the total.
Such requests have become a political issue during this period. Investigations headed by the Justice Department, including those from the FBI, accounted for three out of four (74 percent) of these 883 applications. But dozens of other investigative agencies were behind one or more of these court filings. See Figure 1.
These results are based on case-by-case internal records  from each U.S. Attorney’s office. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University obtained and analyzed the records after decades of litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). TRAC is very grateful for the pro bono assistance of the Public Citizen Litigation Group during this battle.
Records show that applications were filed throughout the country. Federal prosecutors were active in all federal judicial districts within the United States, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Between January and June of 2022, the largest number of applications were filed in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) with a total of 55. This was followed by 48 in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), 37 in Nevada, and 36 in Maryland. Corresponding numbers for each federal judicial district are shown below in Table 1.
The volume of search warrants and subpoenas sought thus far during 2022 was not unusual. Indeed, before the pandemic struck, the number of search warrants, subpoenas, and summonses recorded each year was 2,000 or more. (See Figure 2.) During 2000, the filings dropped to just 1,207 after the partial government shutdown, and have not yet recovered to their former levels.
|Federal Judicial District||Total Number||Application Requested by Agency|
|FBI||Rest of DOJ||Other Agencies|
|N. Y., W||17||14||2||1|
|N Car, E||12||8||1||3|
|N. Y., N||12||3||7||2|
|N. Y., S||12||1||9||2|
|N Car, W||11||6||3||2|
|N. Y., E||7||1||2||4|
|N Car, M||3||3||0||0|
|W Virg, N||1||0||0||1|
|W Virg, S||1||0||1||0|