The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, joined by AAN and 36 other media organizations, has written to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., asking that a recently enacted Marshals Service policy to block the release of federal criminal booking photographs be rescinded:
The Reporters Committee letter was prompted by a Dec. 12 Marshals Service memo stating that it would no longer comply with Freedom of Information Act requests for booking photographs as required under appellate court precedent in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati (Sixth Circuit).
Under the 1996 ruling in Detroit Free Press v. Department of Justice, federal booking photographs must be released under FOIA when a named, indcited criminal suspect has appeared in open court and the court proceedings are ongoing. The Sixth Circuit ruling found that under such circumstances an individual has no privacy right in such records. By refusing to follow the appellate court precedent, the Marshals Service has essentially shut off access to federal mug shots under FOIA.