Judge chastises government for not producing census records

FILE - This Sunday, April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit.  The U.S. Census Bureau has spent much of the past year defending itself against allegations that its duties have been overtaken by politics. With a failed attempt by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question, the hiring of three political appointees with limited experience to top positions, a sped-up schedule and a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude undocumented residents from the process of redrawing congressional districts, the 2020 census has descended into a high-stakes partisan battle.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
FILE - This Sunday, April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. The U.S. Census Bureau has spent much of the past year defending itself against allegations that its duties have been overtaken by politics. With a failed attempt by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question, the hiring of three political appointees with limited experience to top positions, a sped-up schedule and a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude undocumented residents from the process of redrawing congressional districts, the 2020 census has descended into a high-stakes partisan battle. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A federal judge chastised government attorneys Monday for failing to produce documents that showed how the U.S. Census Bureau made its decision to cut short by a month the head count of every U.S. resident.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose told government attorneys that they weren't complying with her order to produce administrative records during a hearing in a lawsuit over whether the once-a-decade census will finish at the end of September — or the end of October.

The documents that government attorneys had produced so far were already publicly available, for the most part, she said.

Koh said she was “very disappointed and surprised."

When Koh asked government attorneys whether they would ever be able to produce the documents before the end of the head count on Sept. 30, government attorney Brad Rosenberg said, “We are not in a position to make that kind of statement."

Government attorney Alexander Sverdlov said the attorneys had been hampered by trying to review more than 8,000 documents in a short amount of time.

“We have been working around the clock on these issues," Sverdlov said.

Koh proposed a compromise in which the Census Bureau would instead turn over records that it had previously given to the Office of Inspector General, the bureau's watchdog agency, covering much of the same decision-making process. Under the proposal, the judge would look at the records privately.