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August 28, 2009 5:16 PM

Litigator of the Week: Thomas Golden of Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Posted by Andrew Longstreth

As journalists, we're supposed to be objective, but when it comes to Freedom of Information Act litigation, it's hard to hide our biases. And so for our Litigator of the Week honors, we're giving the nod to Willkie Farr & Gallagher's Tom Golden, who scored a big win for the public's right to know this week.

Golden represents media company Bloomberg, where two journalists filed a FOIA request seeking records on actions taken by the Federal Reserve last year during the financial crisis. Among other things, they wanted to know which companies participated in the government's emergency lending program, how much they borrowed, and what collateral they put up. After the Fed refused to give up the goods, Bloomberg went to court last fall. In its summary judgment motion, the Fed argued in part, that if the information was disclosed, it would cause financial damage to the borrowers and therefore should fall under FOIA exemptions.

But in a 47-page opinion issued on Monday, Manhattan federal district court judge Loretta Preska sided with Golden, who argued in Bloomberg’s summary judgment motion that the Fed's claims are "based on wispy speculation, lack evidentiary support, and are contradicted by economic theory."

Golden's victory is all the more impressive considering that last month, Manhattan federal district court judge Alvin Hellerstein denied a similar FOIA request by Fox News Network. Golden declined to discuss the case with us, but we'll likely hear from him again, at least at the Second Circuit. The Fed has asked Judge Preska to stay her order pending an appeal.

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