Charles Tobin, with Ballard Spahr
Charles Tobin, with Ballard Spahr (Dupont Photographers)

Ballard Spahr partner Charles Tobin isn’t wasting any time picking up Trump-related lawsuits after leaving Holland & Knight last week.

Roughly ten days after ditching Holland & Knight due to the firm’s alleged moratorium on challenging President Donald Trump, Tobin filed a lawsuit Thursday against the FBI on behalf of CNN. The network is seeking former FBI Director James Comey’s now infamous memos documenting his conversations with Trump. 

Tobin did not immediately return a request for comment, but it appears CNN followed him to Ballard Sphar. Tobin represented the network in several matters prior to leaving Holland & Knight, including a libel case in Atlanta.

A longtime media lawyer, he’s now the co-chair of Ballard Spahr‘s media and entertainment law group in Washington, D.C. Tobin is a former journalist and in-house counsel for Gannett.

CNN’s lawsuit filed in U.S District Court for the District of Columbia alleges that the FBI is illegally withholding documents the network asked for via a Freedom of Information Act request. According to the lawsuit and a CNN news article, CNN requested expedited processing of the request, and when the FBI declined, CNN appealed to the Office of Information Policy. That office reversed the denial and remanded the request to the agency.

The FBI has neither provided the documents nor a reason not to provide them, CNN claims.

“The urgency and national public importance in release of the Comey memos is unquestionable,” the lawsuit said. “It is inconceivable that locating and producing the small number of Comey Case memos, particularly given their prominence in current public debate, requires any significant amount of the FBI’s time or resources. There is no basis to withhold the Comey memos under the FOIA.”

The network asked the court to order the FBI to immediately process the request and award CNN its costs and attorney fees. Drew Shenkman, senior counsel at CNN, declined to comment.

Tobin announced that he left Holland & Knight last week. The firm denied it maintained a policy barring lawyers from taking on matters adverse to the president, and claimed it often represents clients challenging the executive branch. Tobin said he left the firm on good terms.

“As unfortunate as the unparalleled secrecy and hostility the government has shown to the news media, it’s been a reinvigoration for journalism,” Tobin said last week of his departure.

Copyright National Law Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.