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In what might be a first, the Air Force Academy has settled a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and agreed to pay the plaintiff's lawyers $25,000 in legal fees.
The plaintiff is the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, founded by Academy graduate Mikey Weinstein. MRFF was represented by attorneys Vincent Ward and Amber Fayerberg, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Weinstein said in a release, "Today's splendid MRFF legal victory is a landmark win in MRFF's continuing fight to rebuild and buttress the shattered church-state wall at USAFA, in the Air Force at large and throughout all of the Department of Defense."
The case dates to Weinstein's 2011 FOIA request for records pertaining to himself, MRFF and his family. After four years of "processing delays," MRFF says, it filed a lawsuit to compel disclosure.
Pursuant to the settlement, the Academy agreed to conduct new searches and broaden the time period for the searches, as well as pay the MRFF's lawyers.
An Academy spokesman says the MRFF request came as the Academy dealt with "a large backlog" of FOIA requests and that the Academy provided 8,000 documents to MRFF over several years. The attorney fees payment will come from the Air Force, not the Academy, the spokesman said.
(Weinstein is the author of this week's Your Turn.)