News attorneys: Opioid distribution data should be public

Court Alerts

Attorneys for news organizations argued Thursday that the U.S. public should be allowed to see federal data about how prescription opioids were distributed as the nation’s overdose crisis was worsening.

They urged a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to overturn a lower court judge’s denial of access to the information. The judges will rule later.

“The value of transparency here is great,” said Karen C. Lefton, an Akron, Ohio, attorney representing The Washington Post. The data concerns “a public health crisis” that affects many more people than a typical case, she said.

The data is a key piece of evidence in hundreds of lawsuits filed by state and local governments against companies that make and distribute the drugs. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration database details the flow of prescription painkillers to pharmacies, showing the number and doses of pills.

A Justice Department attorney told the judges releasing the data would compromise investigations.

“This is an issue of really critical importance to the United States and DEA,” said government attorney Sarah Carroll. Making the information public, she said, “would tip defendants off to the scope of DEA investigations.”

Cleveland-based U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing more than 1,500 of the lawsuits, had ruled in July 2018 that the information cannot be made public. He said that doing so would reveal trade secrets. The Post and the HD Media newspaper chain, which had asked the court for the data, then appealed to the federal circuit.

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USCIS Continuing Form I-751 Data Entry

USCIS has completed receipting and data entry for all filings of Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, received between May 1 and Sept. 9, 2018. Petitioners should receive receipt notices by Oct. 22, 2018.

On June 13, 2018, USCIS announced that the California Service Center (CSC) was experiencing a delay in initial data entry for Form I-751. After changing the filing location for Form I-751 from the USCIS Service Centers to the USCIS Lockbox facilities in September, USCIS completed receipting and data entry of these petitions on Oct. 1.

If you submitted a Form I-751 to the CSC between May 1 and Sept. 9, 2018, and you have not received a receipt notice, do not file a duplicate Form I-751 unless you have received a rejection notice or have been instructed to do so by the CSC.

If your two-year green card has expired and you have not received a receipt notice, you may schedule an appointment online for you and any eligible dependents to be seen at your local field office. If possible, bring evidence that you sent your Form I-751 via the U.S. Postal Service or a delivery service, such as FedEx. If you have any questions about the process, visit the USCIS Contact Center page.