How to File a Motion with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

I’ve been working on a project called My NSA Records, a Web site designed to allow you to either request a copy of your phone records that the NSA has captured or request of the FISA Court that the records be ordered deleted. We had a huge opening day, gathering over 500 such requests within 24 hours.

The first of the FOIA/Privacy Act requests (to get a copy of your records) were mailed on Sunday, but I had a problem with the motions (to request deletion): I couldn’t find the address of the clerk of the FISA court. More research uncovered the following deep within the court’s rules:

A party may obtain instructions for making submissions permitted under the Act and these Rules by contacting the Clerk at (202) 357-6250.

FISA Ct. Rule 7(k)

Ok, so for whatever reason, the court doesn’t publish its address. I’ll just give them a call and they’ll provide it, right? Well, calling that phone number leads to an answering machine with a terse greeting: “You have reached the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Please leave a message.”

I left a message, which was returned the next day. However, the nice-sounding woman on the other end of the phone call didn’t provide me an address. “You’ll need to contact Christine Gunning to arrange to mail your documents.” I asked if this woman was a representative of the clerk’s office, and I was told, “No.” Well then who is she? “She works for the Department of Justice.”

So, there you have it. In another stunning failure to separate powers, in order to file paperwork with the judicial branch, you’re required to go through the executive branch. Ms. Gunning, a DoJ veteran that, based on some brief research frequently works on cases involving classified information, informed me that she would accept for papers for filing with the FISA court (as well as accept service on behalf of the government) sent to her attention at:

2 Constitution Sq.
145 N St. NE, Ste. 2W-115
Washington, DC 20530

In summary, if you’d like to move the FISA court:

  1. Read the rules
  2. Draft your motion
  3. Mail to Christine

There appears to be no filing fee, so if you’re upset with a FISA court decision that affects you, go for it.

5 thoughts on “How to File a Motion with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

Add yours

  1. Can you make a video or example paper of how to do this?
    What does my paper need to look like, and what all needs to be done. Like a howto Video?

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