A Fenwick pro bono litigation team has received the 2021 James Madison Freedom of Information Award in the Legal Counsel category from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The award recognizes Fenwick and the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) for their work in securing a 2020 victory before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with the court finding that the U.S. government may not refuse Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for existing data in government databases.

Partner Andrew Bridges and associate Meghan Fenzel led a team that assisted the news site in the successful appeal to protect a FOIA request seeking aggregate data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on guns that belonged to law enforcement that were used in crimes. The case is Ctr. for Investigative Reporting v. United States Dep’t of Justice, 982 F.3d 668 (9th Cir. 2020).

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. The Northern California Chapter works to support journalists based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and cities and towns throughout the region.

The chapter’s James Madison Awards recognize the people and organizations of Northern California who have made significant contributions to advancing freedom of information and expression in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment. Read more about the 2021 awards here.

Fenwick’s pro bono program is dedicated to ensuring that disadvantaged people and communities have representation and access to justice. Fenwick also strives to be a catalyst for innovation and collaboration in establishing pro bono project partnerships with companies in the technology space. Every year, our lawyers donate more than three percent of their total billable hours to pro bono legal services to a broad range of clients and causes.

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