UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ON-LINE

JOHN DOE AGENCY V. JOHN DOE CORP., 488 U. S. 1306 (1989)

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U.S. Supreme Court

John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corp., 488 U.S. 1306 (1989)

John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corp.

No. A-552

Decided January 30, 1989

488 U.S. 1306

Syllabus

An application to stay the enforcement of the Court of Appeals' judgment granting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of John Doe Corporation (Corporation) pending the disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. The court below held that documents prepared during a Government audit in connection with the Corporation's performance of Government contracts and subsequently transferred to a law enforcement agency during a grand jury investigation of the Corporation were not exempt from disclosure under the FOIA's exemption for records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes. The balance of equities clearly weighs in favor of a stay, since the Court of Appeals left undisturbed the District Court's finding that disclosure posed a substantial risk of jeopardizing the grand jury investigation; since disclosure would moot part of the Court of Appeals' decision; and since the Corporation's interest in receiving the information immediately, while significant if its interpretation of the FOIA is correct, poses no threat of irreparable harm. There is a reasonable probability that four Justices will vote to grant certiorari, since there are divergent interpretations of the meaning of the FOIA exemption at issue. And, given the plausibility of the arguments advanced in those cases adopting a broader view of the exemption, there is a fair prospect that a majority of the Court will vote to reverse.


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