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JFK Assassination Records Suit Gets Partial Green Light (1)---Bloomberg Law

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This is how Bloomberg Law (part of Bloomberg) played the recent Judge Seeborg ruling. 


I added nothing. Just an FYI on how a major news organization presented the news. 


JFK Assassination Records Suit Gets Partial Green Light (1)

Peter Hayes
Peter Hayes
  • Plaintiffs may pursue claims for ‘destroyed’ records
  • Court denies ‘repackaged’ claim for missing records

Archivists seeking records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy can proceed with claims under the Federal Records Act against the National Archives and Records Administration related to destroyed documents, but not missing ones, the Northern District of California ruled.

The plaintiffs sued the National Archives and Records Administration under the Federal Records Act, saying that the agency improperly failed to request that the US Attorney General recover records related to the assassination.

The plaintiffs may pursue claims for “destroyed” records because they sufficiently allege that there are ways these documents could be recovered, including retention of a “computerized version,” Judge Richard Seeborg of the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled Thursday.

NARA, however, has no duty to pursue “missing” records, Seeborg said. A claim for “missing” records is a “repackaged version” of the plaintiffs’ failed effort to compel NARA to pursue outstanding record searches, he said.

The court reiterated its July 14 ruling that NARA has no obligation to complete searches begun by the Assassination Records Review Board, which was terminated in 1998 after issuing a final report.

The board was an independent federal agency created to oversee the identification and release of records related to the assassination of Kennedy. It was established by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

Plaintiffs Mary Ferrell Foundation Inc., Josiah Thompson and Gary Aguilar filed the lawsuit on Oct. 19, 2022. They filed a third amended complaint on Sept. 11, 2023, alleging violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, the JFK Act, and the FRA.

The court also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim that NARA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the APA.

The plaintiffs’ motion to compel agency action under the APA also fails, with the exception of the claim that NARA failed to maintain identification aids for each assassination record and to release legislative records, Seeborg ruled.

Lawrence Schnapf of New York and William Morris Simpich in Oakland, Calif., represent the plaintiffs.

The case is Mary Ferrell Foundation Inc., v. Biden, N.D. Cal., No. 22-cv-06176, 1/18/24.

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