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On Demand Audio

The Glomar Response to Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Requests: Is it Applicable to State and City Agencies?

(585 reviews)

Produced on January 24, 2017

Taught by
$ 59 Constitutional, Administrative, and Civil Rights In Stock

Course Information

Time 1h
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

Under state and local Freedom of Information Laws (FOIL), government agencies are required to provide documents requested under FOIL unless they can point to a specific exemption law that allows them to withhold the information. The burden is on the agency to prove that the document is exempted. These laws favor disclosure and open government.

Like most of these state and local laws, New York state and local FOIL offer exemptions allowing the agency to not produce documents if disclosure of the information requested would interfere with a law enforcement investigation, would reveal non-routine criminal investigative techniques, or could endanger the life or safety of any person. However, the law still requires that the existence of the information be acknowledged, and that the agency state the reason the information is exempt from production.

For federal agencies, there is a judicial theory known as the “Glomar Doctrine”, which allows federal agencies with the ability to classify documents (such as the CIA and NSA) to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests without admitting to or denying the existence of requested documents if revealing the documents could jeopardize national security. This doctrine, which is rarely used by federal agencies, has strict requirements based on an Act of Congress or Executive Order, and allows federal agencies to respond to FOIA requests by stating that the agency “Can neither Confirm nor Deny the Existence of these Documents.”

Recently, the question has arisen whether or not the Glomar response might be invoked by state or city agencies such as the NYPD in responding to FOIL requests. This course will discuss this question by outlining the basic principles of “Open Government” which underlie FOIA and FOIL, defining the requirements of the Glomar doctrine, and discussing what impact the doctrine has on the efficacy of FOIA and FOIL as a measure of open government.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Understand the principles of open government underlying FOIA and FOIL 
  2. Outline typical state and local FOIL requirements
  3. Discuss the Glomar doctrine in federal law, and whether it may be applicable to state and local agencies


Omar Mohammedi

Law Firm of Omar T. Mohammedi, LLC

Omar T. Mohammedi is the founder and managing partner of the Law Firm of Omar T. Mohammedi, LLC, established in 1998. His previous experience includes working at Shearman & Sterling, LLP and Anderson Kill & Olick, PC, and he is licensed to practice before the New York State Courts, the Second Circuit, the Eighth Circuit, the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York and the Court of International Trade.

Mr. Mohammedi has litigated cases of national prominence and has been the lawyer in major court opinions. Mr. Mohammedi has successfully represented clients in high profile cases such as, Amadou Diallo v. the City of New York et al., Shqeirat v. US Airways Group, Inc. et al (known as the six Imams case) and Stephanie Lewis v. Transit Authority et al. Mr. Mohammedi has extensive experience in complex multi-district litigation (MDL) cases such as In re 9/11 Litigation and Appellate work.

In addition, Mr. Mohammedi has extensive experience in Islamic finance law, Islamic estate planning international trade and business law. He has advised various financial institutions, namely HSBC, and major international institutions on Islamic financial transactions such as Sukuk, Musharaka, Mudaraba, Ijara and Murabaha. Mr. Mohammedi has represented various clients in Islamic Estate Planning structures covering 30 million USD in assets.

Mr. Mohammedi counsels various business and individual clients on commercial and corporate matters, Islamic finance, real estate investment, buy/sell agreements, international trade, and investment. Mr. Mohammedi is counsel to various for-profit and non-profit institutions on financial structures such as charitable remainder trusts, pool income funds and modes of Islamic finance operations. He has advised major corporations and business councils on international business matters and legal issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

Mr. Mohammedi is a lecturer of Law at Fordham Law School where he teaches, Introduction: Islamic Finance & Estate Planning and Conventional & Islamic Finance Law: A Comparative Study.

Mr. Mohammedi is a former NYC Commissioner on Human Rights. He was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to become the first Muslim and Arab New York City Commissioner on Human Rights from October 2002 to December 2014. He enforced the New York City Human Rights Law through review and approval of Administrative Judges’ decisions. Mr. Mohammedi enforced judgments on Human Rights violations and proposed legislations to protect the Human Rights of civilians and minorities.

Mr. Mohammedi is the author of many law review articles and published articles, including: Sharia Compliant Wills: Principles, Recognition, and Enforcement, 57 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 259 (2012–2013), Shariah-Compliant Wills: An Overview, Probate & Property Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 1 (2011), International Trade and Investment in Algeria: An Overview, 18 Mich.J.Intl L. 375 (2010).

On July 15, 2015, Mr. Mohammedi received a proclamation from the Office of the Public Advocate in recognition for his 25 years of complex civil ligation services. The proclamation referred to Mr. Mohammedi’s successful representations of minorities against discrimination and profiling in high profile cases. The Public Advocate, Letitia James, honored Mr. Mohammedi for his professional achievements as a lawyer and advocate, which she deemed worthy of the highest respect and esteem in the legal community.

On May 5, 2010, The US-Algerian Business Council awarded Mr. Mohammedi at the 2010 US-Algeria Energy Day in Houston, Texas for his legal contribution to foster trade relations between Algeria and the US.

In May 2007, Mr. Mohammedi received awards from the New York State Senate, the New York City Council, the Office of the President of the Borough of Queens, and the Brooklyn Borough President for his 20 years of dedication and outstanding contributions as a lawyer, a commissioner, and leader in the State and City of New York.

In 2003, Mr. Mohammedi was featured in the New York Law Journal article “Lawyers as leaders in their community and New York City“. He was cited by Mayor Bloomberg as a successful lawyer and leader serving New York City.

Mr. Mohammedi holds three law degrees. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned the highest cumulative average from Fordham Law School. He is also a Law School graduate from Cambridge and Warwick University in England. He received a BA in Law from Tlemcen University, Algeria.

Mr. Mohammedi is fluent in Arabic, French and English.

Omar Mohammedi is the President and Founder of the Association of Muslim American Lawyers (“AMAL”). He is a member of the Advisory Board of Trustee: Tanenbaum Center for Religious Understanding and a Committee Member of the Citizen Union for Civic Engagement.


Saadya B.

Amazing lecture. Worth listening to.

erick w.


Peter A.

Overall good but tough going sometimes

Patricia F.

Rich with information

Christina S.

Very thorough discussion on how the government can get around giving out information legally requested. This will help with future FOIL requests.

Melanie C.

Good speaker. Pleasant voice

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