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Case Blurb: Collins & Aikman Corp.; Deliberative Process Privilege discussed

Posted by rjbiii on February 3, 2009

The deliberative process privilege protects from disclosure “‘documents reflecting advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated.'” The privilege is intended “‘to enhance the quality of agency decisions, by protecting open and frank discussion among those who make them within the Government.'”

In order to qualify for the privilege, a document must be “predecisional” and “deliberative.” A document is predecisional if it was “‘prepared in order to assist an agency decisionmaker in arriving at his decision.'” The agency claiming privilege “must be able to demonstrate that . . . the document for which . . . privilege is claimed related to a specific decision, facing the agency.” Moreover, the privilege does not extend to “‘purely factual’ material” or subjective discussions insofar as they were later adopted or incorporated in a final agency opinion. A document is deliberative if it is “‘actually . . . related to the process by which policies are formulated.'” Factors used to determine whether a document is deliberative include “whether the document ‘(i) formed an essential link in a specified consultative process, (ii) reflects the personal opinions of the writer rather than the policy of the agency, and (iii) if released, would inaccurately reflect or prematurely disclose the views of the agency.”

SEC v. Collins & Aikman Corp., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3367 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 13, 2009)(internal citations removed).

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Posted in 2nd Circuit, Case Blurbs, Deliberative Process Privilege, Duty to Produce, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, S.D.N.Y | Leave a Comment »