In Chelmowski v. FCC, (1) the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a motion for production of documents, as well as a separate motion for a Vaughn index containing certain FCC documents. The order signifies the finality of certain agency decisions made by the FCC. (2)
The petitioner, James Chelmowski, had been engaged with the FCC. (3) Chelmowski filed a formal complaint against AT&T Mobility LLC, which was dismissed by the FCC on July 10, 2015. (4) In October 2015, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau issued an Order on Reconsideration denying the petition for reconsideration of the July 2015 dismissal. (5) One month later, Chelmowski filed a petition review of the staff-level Order on Reconsideration in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (6)
On September 11, 2015, Chelmowski filed two FOIA requests with the FCC, seeking documents related to informal complaints he made to the FCC. (7) The FCC responded on September 17, claiming the documents had been withheld without explanation. (8) Chelmowski appealed the FCC's FOIA decision to withhold to the Office of General Counsel. (9) The FCC supplied additional documents to Chelmowski. (10) Chelmowski subsequently filed motions in the appeal to the D.C. Circuit seeking release of records the FCC withheld from disclosure under VOIA, as well as a Vaughn index of the documents and portions withheld by the FCC. (11) The FCC subsequently moved to dismiss the claims, claiming that Chelmowski did not properly seek judicial review, and that the D.C. Circuit lacked jurisdiction to address his claims. (12)
The two questions for the Court were as follows. First, are orders from the Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau final reviewable orders? Second, does the D.C. Circuit have jurisdiction to address the claims? The D.C. Circuit court answered no to both questions dismissed both motions.
In addressing the first question, the FCC noted that "The filing of an application for review under this subsection shall be a condition precedent to judicial review of any order, decision, report, or...