When a telephonic status conference in a years-long public records lawsuit began Wednesday, all the parties had dialed in—plus the acting head of the civil division in the U.S. attorney’s office for D.C.

It’s rare for the head of a division to appear during a court hearing, particularly in litigation that has largely proceeded under the radar. Brian Hudak had been summoned by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta of the District of Columbia, after the judge said government officials weren’t complying with a past order he issued in the case.