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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Convict Wins Access to Heavily Redacted Record

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Justice Department improperly withheld one of its records on a former prosecutor's unlicensed practice of law, a federal judge ruled.

Lesa Gail Bridges Jackson worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas from 1989 to 2001, when she resigned and surrendered her law license.

Court records show that Jackson was admitted to the Arkansas bar the same year she was disbarred from Kentucky for nonpayment of dues. She had previously been suspended in Arkansas for nonpayment of dues, as well.

Lonnie Parker, a medical doctor whom Jackson prosecuted in 1998 on a charge of possession of child pornography, sued the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act in 2010 for access to its records on Jackson.

Years of litigation whittled the dispute down to "Document 2," a single one-page record that the DOJ withheld.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson found last week that Parker deserves access to a redacted copy of "Document 2."

The Justice Department can omit any privileged case information under FOIA Exemption 5, which "permits agencies to withhold 'inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency,'" According to the ruling.

For the document at issue, "the two handwritten dates, the first sentence of the typewritten portion of the memo, and the first five words of the handwritten note should be released; everything else in the record may be redacted," Jackson wrote.

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