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A federal judge last week denied a government request to order a public interest group to return Justice Department e-mails the agency says the group is improperly holding. The ruling is the latest in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, over documents related to the DOJ’s 2005 decision to lower the civil penalties it sought against tobacco companies to $10 billion from $130 billion. The Oct. 5 decision by Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia allows CREW to keep two sets of correspondence printed from the computer of former DOJ official Sharon Eubanks, who now works at the organization. The Justice Department, Sullivan wrote, had not “demonstrated that the emails in question were improperly misappropriated.” In the same opinion, Sullivan also permitted CREW to make public the videotape of its deposition of former Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum, although he denied the group’s request for additional discovery.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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