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Exemption 7

Court of Appeals Decisions

Blackwell v. FBI, No. 10-5072, 2011 WL 2600831 (D.C. Cir. July 1, 2011) (Kavanaugh, J.). Holding: Affirming the district court's decision that the FBI properly invoked Exemptions 7(C) and 7(E) and conducted an adequate search. As preliminary matter, the D.C. Circuit finds that "[t]he documents generated in the course of investigating and prosecuting [plaintiff] on insider trading charges are quite obviously related to the FBI's law enforcement duties" and, accordingly, "easily" satisfy the threshold of Exemption 7.

Roth v. DOJ, 642 F.3d 1161 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (Tatel, J.). Holding: Affirming, in part, the district court's decision that the FBI properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemptions 7(C) and 7(D); and reversing, in part, the district court's approval of the FBI's Glomar response and certain information withheld pursuant to Exemption7(D); and remanding for further proceedings. Due to the nature of plaintiff's request, the D.C. Circuit finds that "the FBI has satisfied its threshold burden of showing that all documents responsive to [plaintiff's] requests, including any that might relate to [the three men that he has accused of committing the murders], were compiled for a law enforcement purpose."

Karantsalis v. DOJ, No. 10-10229, 2011 WL 846242 (11th Cir. Mar. 11, 2011) (per curiam). Holding: Affirming the opinion of the district court which upheld protection for "mug shots" under Exemption 7(C); the Eleventh Circuit adopts and attaches to its opinion the opinion of the district court. The district court, which was affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit, concludes that "it is clear that the booking photographs were compiled for law enforcement purposes because [USMS] is a law enforcement agency tasked with the 'receipt, processing and transportation of prisoners held in the custody of a marshal or transported by [USMS]'" and that the photographs in question "were taken pursuant to this duty."

District Court Decisions

Concepcion v. U.S. Customs and Border Prot., No. 10-0599, 2012 WL 6019299 (D.D.C. Dec. 4, 2012) (Jackson, J.).Holding: Granting Customs and Border Protection's motion for summary judgment.Threshold: The court finds that the Passenger Activity report concerning plaintiff's brother is a law enforcement record. The court comments that Customs and Border Protection could have provided "more specificity on this point," but accepts Customs and Border Protection's declaration that the "record at issue" "'was compiled for law enforcement purposes in that the arrival and departure information is collected and used by [Customs and Border Protection] in its mission to secure the borders of the United States."

Ameren Mo. v. EPA, No. 4:11CV02051AGF, 2012 WL 4372518 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 25, 2012) (Fleissig, J.). Holding: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment and denying plaintiff's request for attorney fees. The court determines that the defendant also properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 7A. The court notes that the information "compiled as part of Defendant's investigation of Plaintiff's possible violations of the CAA [Clean Air Act]" was "compiled for law enforcement purposes."

Wonders v. McHugh, No. 11-cv-1130, 2012 WL 3962750 (D.D.C. Sept. 11, 2012) (Wilkins, J.).Holding: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment. The court holds "that the purported records constitute records 'compiled for law enforcement purposes.'" The court highlights the fact that "any investigation involved here was undertaken in response to 'specifically alleged' act(s) of misrepresentation that could have resulted in civil sanctions by the attorney's state bar association."

Vazquez v. DOJ, No. 10-39, 2012 WL 3655253 (D.D.C. Aug. 24, 2012) (Leon, J.).Holding: Granting defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis that they properly invoked the Glomar response in conjunction with Exemption 7(E). The court concludes that "defendants have established the threshold requirement that the responsive records be compiled for law enforcement purposes and have shown that utilization of the NCIC database constitutes a 'procedure[] for law enforcement investigations' covered by exemption 7(E)." The court holds that defendants properly refused to confirm or deny the existence of NCIC transactions concerning plaintiff pursuant to Exemption 7(E). Prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Milner, the court held that DOJ properly asserted the Glomar response in conjunction with Exemption 2 for the material at issue, and now "finds no reason to depart from that earlier finding," "[s]ince exemption 7(E) is designed to prevent the same type of harm." The court concludes that "persons knowing that they are being investigated by a law enforcement entity, which the requested information would reveal, could reasonably be expected to use the information to circumvent the law. Conversely, a person with knowledge 'that there have been no NCIC checks run against him,' and, hence, that he is 'not on law enforcement's radar' could reasonably be expected to continue 'to engage in unlawful endeavors' with renewed vigor." Moreover, the court finds that "to the extent that plaintiff is asserting an overriding public interest to compel disclosure of otherwise exempt records, . . . , his argument is misplaced because the court's duty to weigh the privacy interests of individuals against the public's interest in disclosure arises only under exemptions 6 and 7(C), which are not asserted here."

Black v. DHS, No. 10-2040, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107910 (D. Nev. Aug. 2, 2012) (Mahan,J.). Holding: Denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that he did not properly authenticate the evidence underlying his motion; and denying defendant's motion for summary judgment where it failed to adequately support its claims of exemption. The court holds that ICE has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the OPR records at issue satisfy the law enforcement threshold of Exemption 7. The court finds that "[t]he declaration does not discuss: (1) the underlying OPR investigation to show that the investigation was conducted pursuant to OPR's law enforcement duties, or (2) how ICE determined that the underlying investigation was for law enforcement purposes." Accordingly, the court determines that it "is left with no basis upon which to find that the OPR investigation was conducted pursuant to OPR's law enforcement duties rather than ORP's duties to investigate allegations of misconduct which 'would jeopardize or undermine the agency's ability to perform its mission.'"

Kretchmar v. FBI, No. 11-1181, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102962 (D.D.C. July25, 2012) (Bates,J.). Holding: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment on the basis that it properly asserted Exemptions 6 & 7(C) and that it conducted an adequate search, which was not disputed by plaintiff; declining to conduct an in camera review; and denying plaintiff's request for litigation costs. As an initial matter, the court finds that the requested records satisfy the Exemption 7 threshold because they "were compiled during the course of a criminal investigation resulting in plaintiff's prosecution and conviction." The court then concludes that the FBI properly asserted Exemptions 6 and 7(C) to redact the names of FBI laboratory personnel. Noting that "[t]hird-party identifying information contained in law enforcement records is categorically exempt from disclosure absent an overriding public interest," the court finds that "plaintiff has not asserted that [such an] interest warrants disclosure of the otherwise protected information." Additionally, the court finds that "[p]laintiff's speculation [that] the redacted portions [do not contain personal information] fails to create a genuine dispute of material fact or to rebut the presumption of good faith accorded to the [FBI's] declaration."

Miller v. DOJ, No. 05-1314, 2012 WL 2552538 (D.D.C. July3, 2012) (Lamberth, J.). Holding: Concluding that plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies with regard to fees assessed by the FBI; and granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment on the basis that it properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemptions 1, 3, 5, 7(C), 7(D), 7(E) and 7(F). The court finds that defendant's supplemental declaration demonstrates that the records at issue satisfy the threshold of Exemption 7 where the State Department's declaration explains that "the documents were created for the purpose of facilitating plaintiff's extradition, which is a law enforcement proceeding." Further, the court holds that documents created by the FBI in connection with "a criminal drug investigation" also meet the Exemption 7 threshold. Additionally, the court holds that "NADDIS numbers," which "are 'part of DEA's internal system of identifying information and individuals in furtherance of DEA's enforcement responsibilities,'" and TECS numbers, which are utilized in another law enforcement database, satisfy the threshold because there is "no purpose in these numbers apart from law enforcement."

McRae v. DOJ, No. 09-2052, 2012 WL 2428281 (D.D.C. June27, 2012) (Leon, J.). Holding: Denying without prejudice defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis that it failed to discuss EOUSA's search for responsive records or EOUSA's justification for withholding certain information under Exemption 7(C), and where it did not supply information sufficient to support ATF's claim of Exemption 7(D); granting defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the adequacy of ATF's search and its claims of Exemptions 3, 7(C) and 7(E). Commenting that ATF's declaration does not "affirmatively link[] the relevant records and an investigation of plaintiff's activities pursuant to the ATF's law enforcement authority," the court nevertheless finds that "the omission is not fatal in this case" because plaintiff did not raise any objections and "[i]t is apparent from the plain language of [his] requests and his criminal history that the information he seeks was compiled for law enforcement purposes."

Espino v. DOJ, No. 11-1436, 2012 WL 2335930 (D.D.C. June20, 2012) (Huvelle,J.). Holding: Granting defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis that they conducted adequate searches for responsive records, their withholdings under Exemption 7(C) were appropriate, and they released all reasonably segregable nonexempt information. The court concludes that the records at issue satisfy the Exemption 7 threshold where they "were compiled during a rape investigation . . . , and are clearly related to the FBI's law enforcement duties."

Roberts v. FBI, No. 11-575, 2012 WL 604178 (D.D.C. Feb. 24, 2012) (Bates, J.). Holding: Granting FBI's motion for summary judgment on the basis that it conducted an adequate search, justified its withholdings under Exemptions 3 and 7(C), and produced all reasonably segregable non-exempt information. The court finds that "[i]t is apparent from the nature of plaintiff's FOIA request that the information he seeks was compiled for law enforcement purposes, namely, the criminal prosecution of plaintiff." Accordingly, the court concludes that "the FBI meets its initial burden of establishing that the records at issue are law enforcement records for purposes of Exemption 7." The court notes that because "the records relevant to this discussion were 'compiled for law enforcement purposes thus implicating Exemption7(C),' . . . the Court need not consider Exemptions 6 and 7(D) separately because the information withheld under these exemptions also is protected from disclosure under Exemption 7(C)."

Abuhouran v. U.S. State Dep't, No. 11-271, 2012 WL 473241 (D.D.C. Feb. 14, 2012) (Huvelle,J.). Holding: Dismissing the amended complaint brought by plaintiff's sister for lack of standing under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1); treating as conceded defendants' claims of exemption, the court concludes that the defendants properly withheld information pursuant to Exemptions 1, 5, 6, 7(A) and 7(C) and that the State Department released all reasonably segregable information; and denying plaintiff's request for costs and fees as he is not a prevailing party. The court rules that "[t]he threshold law enforcement requirement [of Exemption 7] is satisfied because the request seeks records pertaining to an extradition to answer to a criminal charge."

Sensor Sys.Support, Inc. v. FAA, No. 10-262, 2012 WL 424376 (D.N.H. Feb.9, 2012) (Barbadoro, J.). Holding: Granting, in part, summary judgment to FAA with respect to certain withholdings under the deliberative process privilege, and Exemptions 6 and 7(C); denying, in part, the FAA's motion for summary judgment as to other redactions under the deliberative process privilege as well as withholdings made pursuant to the attorney-client privilege, and ordering the FAA to supplement its Vaughn index or declaration with respect to those records or to submit them for in camera review; and declining to exercise its discretion to make an interim award of attorney's fees to plaintiff. The court finds that records containing communications between an Office of Inspector General (OIG) special agent and an FAA employee "made in the course of an OIG investigation" "were compiled for law enforcement purposes" and so satisfy Exemption 7's threshold.

Stanko v. BOP, No. 10-724, 2012 WL 336173 (D.D.C. Feb.3, 2012) (Boasberg,J.). Holding: Granting BOP's renewed motion for summary judgment on the basis that it conducted an adequate search and properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemption 7(C); and denying plaintiff leave to amend his complaint. The court determines that certain documents confiscated from plaintiff's prison cell which "were seized as part of a 'criminal investigation into Plaintiff['s] . . . threats of filing liens against [BOP] staff' . . . satisfy the law-enforcement-purpose requirement" of Exemption 7.

Lewis v. DOJ, No. 09-746, 2011 WL 5222896 (D.D.C. Nov. 2, 2011) (Walton, J.). Holding: Granting, in part, defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment based on the adequacy of EOUSA's and the Office of Professional Responsibility's (OPR) searches, and the propriety of OPR's assertion of Exemptions 5 and 6 as well as EOUSA's and DEA's invocation of Exemptions 7(C) and 7(D); and denying summary judgment as to four pages of records referred from OPR to EOUSA, and OPR's reliance on Exemption 2. As a threshold matter, the court concludes that both EOUSA and DEA demonstrated that the records related to the criminal investigation and prosecution of plaintiff satisfy the law enforcement threshold of Exemption 7.

Banks v. DOJ, No. 06-1950, 2011 WL 4448602 (D.D.C. Sept. 26, 2011) (Sullivan, J.). Holding: Granting partial summary judgment to defendant based on plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies for two requests and on the propriety of defendant's withholdings under Exemptions6 and 7(C); and denying, without prejudice, defendant's motion for summary judgment for information withheld pursuant to Exemptions 7(D) and 7(E). The court concludes that the requested records satisfy the law enforcement threshold of Exemption 7 where "[t]he declarant explains that the USPIS 'is a law enforcement agency whose mission . . . is to conduct investigations of possible violations of federal criminal statutes such as mail fraud'" and where "'[t]he majority of documents responsive to [plaintiff's] FOIA requests were prepared as part of USPIS's investigation of whether [plaintiff] and others committed violations of federal criminal statutes.'"

Anderson v. BOP, No. 10-413, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95125 (D.D.C. Aug. 25, 2011) (Boasberg,J.). Holding: Granting BOP's motion for summary judgment on the basis that its search was adequate and its withholdings pursuant to Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F) were justified. The court concludes that the records at issue, which concern BOP's investigation as to whether it was necessary to transfer plaintiff to another facility, "were compiled for a law enforcement purpose." The court finds that "[i]nvestigations like this can be fairly characterized as enforcement proceedings, where, as here, BOP determines that it is necessary to transfer an inmate to prevent future violence."

Moffat v. DOJ, No. 09-12067, 2011 WL 3475440 (D. Mass. Aug. 5, 2011) (Casper,J.). Holding: Granting summary judgment to defendants based on adequacy of their searches and withholdings; denying plaintiff's request for attorney's fees and costs with respect to DEA and ATF, but permitting him leave to file a memorandum regarding his entitlement to fees with respect to his claim against the FBI. The court holds that the FBI satisfied the threshold of Exemption 7 because "the redacted documents 'relate to [something] that can be fairly characterized as an enforcement proceeding,' . . . and that the enforcement activity involves one of the law enforcement duties of the FBI."

Kubik v. BOP, No. 10-6078, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71300 (D. Or. July 1, 2011) (Coffin,Mag.). Holding: Granting, in part, BOP's motion for summary judgment with respect to its assertion of Exemption 5 and certain redactions under Exemption 7(C); granting, in part, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment with respect to the adequacy of the search and information withheld pursuant to Exemptions 7(C), 7(E) and 7(F). Applying the Pratt test set forth by the D.C. Circuit for determining whether documents are compiled for a law enforcement purpose, the court finds that a document "compiled by a criminal investigator during the criminal investigation of [plaintiffs' son's] assault on other inmates" meets the Exemption 7 threshold. However, the court determines that "BOP has not met its burden" with respect to a prison transfer document, a mortality review of plaintiffs' son, a BOP inquiry into the riot, and surveillance video. For example, the court finds "[a]lthough the BOP's supporting declaration identifies particular incidents – [plaintiffs' son's] transfer, his behavior issues, and the riot respectively, it does not connect these incidents or any individual involved to a potential violation of law" and instead, appears "largely related to [BOP's] administrative functions."

Mingo v. DOJ, No. 10-1673, 2011 WL 2559221 (D.D.C. June 29, 2011) (Howell,J.). The court finds that the records at issue satisfy the threshold of Exemption 7 because they "were created in connection with the BOP's responsibility to 'protect[ ] inmates, staff, and the community,'... and therefore relate to the enforcement of federal law."

Families for Freedom v. U.S. Customs & Border Protect., No. 10-2705, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63829 (S.D.N.Y. June 16, 2011) (Scheindlin,J.). Holding: Granting, in part, defendants' motion for summary judgment as to withholdings under Exemption 5; and granting, in part, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment with respect to material withheld under Exemptions 6, 7(C), and 7(E). At the outset, the court notes that "[w]hile ICE is unquestionably a federal law enforcement agency, not every document produced by ICE personnel has been 'compiled for law enforcement purposes' under FOIA." With regard to portions of two agency documents for which defendants asserted Exemption 7(C), the court finds that the documents "are not investigatory files," but rather, "are directives regarding the general execution of tasks by agency personnel." The court comments that "[w]hile in a general sense, the tasks described in the two documents pertain to law enforcement, the documents are not investigatory, and thus, were not 'compiled for law enforcement purposes.'" Accordingly, the court holds that defendants may not use Exemption 7(C) to protect "the names of agency personnel who authored or received the two documents."

Griffin v. EOUSA, No. 09-1517, 2011 WL 1211354 (D.D.C. Mar.31, 2011) (Leon, J.). Holding: Resolving the last issue in case by granting USMS's motion for summary judgment on its claims of exemption and the adequacy of its searches. In an earlier opinion, the court "determined that plaintiff had raised a genuine issue as to whether the requested records were compiled for law enforcement purposes," but now finds that threshold of Exemption 7 is satisfied "[g]iven that the requested records would have been compiled to 'assist the USMS in carrying out its statutory law enforcement responsibilities related to the execution of federal arrest warrants[,] the investigation of fugitives, [and] the [transport and maintenance] of federal prisoners from . . . their arrest [to final disposition].'"

Benavides v. BOP, No. 09-2026, 2011 WL 1195800 (D.D.C. Mar. 30, 2011) (Roberts,J.). Holding: Granting BOP's motion for summary judgment in part and denying in part without prejudice and denying plaintiff's motion. The court agrees with plaintiff that BOP has failed to establish that conversations recorded on its computer systems which monitors, tracks and records inmate telephone calls, were compiled for a law enforcement purpose. The court finds that BOP's reliance on its "status as a law enforcement agency responsible for the welfare of inmates in its custody, its staff and the public at large" is not sufficient to show that the records at issue satisfy the two-part Pratt rational nexus test articulated by the D.C. Circuit. That test requires that an agency establish that "'the investigatory activity that gave rise to the documents is related to the enforcement of federal laws, and there is a rational nexus between the investigation at issue and the agency's law enforcement duties.'" Here, the court finds that "BOP's supporting declaration neither identifies a particular individual or incident subject to an investigation nor connects a particular individual or incident to a potential violation of law."

Reno Newspapers, Inc. v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, No. 09-683, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33957 (D. Nev. Mar. 29, 2011) (Reed, J.). Holding: Granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment. The court finds that "[a]bsent compelling evidence presented by Plaintiff to the contrary, [it] is persuaded that [the USPC and UPO] are agencies with law enforcement mandates for purposes of Exemption 7" based on their law enforcement functions that derive from the Parole Commission and Reorganization Act. The court dismisses plaintiff's argument that "Defendants rely solely on their status as law enforcement agencies as the premise from which we should conclude that any record maintained by the Defendants was compiled for law enforcement purposes." Instead, the court determines that "Defendants provide a description [with respect to each Vaughn index entry citing Exemption7] of how the particular document has a rational nexus to Defendants' law enforcement activities."

Lazaridis v. DOJ, No. 09-1177, 2011 WL 652469 (D.D.C. Feb. 24, 2011). As a threshold matter, the court finds that "[t]he fact that the [U.S. Attorney's Office] 'declined prosecution [of plaintiff for kidnapping offenses],' [ ] does not change the law enforcement purpose for which the records were compiled." The court also finds that responsive records located by the FBI also qualify for the Exemption 7 threshold where they were "compiled . . . as a result of a criminal investigation into an alleged illegal relocation of [plaintiff's] minor child outside the United States, based on authority provided in the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993." With respect to the USNCB, the court finds that it "cannot determine the propriety of USNCB's withholding of information under exemption 7 because it has no factual basis to find that the retrieved documents were compiled for law enforcement purposes."

Schoenman v. FBI, No. 04-2202, 2011 WL 446857 (D.D.C. Feb. 9, 2011) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.). The court finds the FBI's representations that the records at issue "were compiled by the FBI as part of an 'internal security' investigation of [plaintiff] and various third parties" "suffice to establish a rational relationship between the FBI's law enforcement responsibilities and the records withheld on this basis." The court rejects plaintiff's unsupported assertion that the records were compiled in connection with unlawful surveillance, finding that "[t]here simply is no competent evidence in the record that the materials as issue here were compiled for any purpose other than that supplied by the FBI."

Gerstein v. CIA, No. 06-4643, 2011 WL 89337 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 11, 2011) (Chesney, J.). As a threshold matter, the court finds that "the four documents under consideration were compiled in the course of an [Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)] investigation into the potentially illegal release of information by particular officials. . ., and consequently constitute records 'compiled for law enforcement purposes' under Exemption 7(C)."

Barrett v. DOJ, No. 09-2959, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112259 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 21, 2010) (Burrell, J.). The court determines that the FBI properly asserted Exemption 7(A) to withhold the requested latent fingerprint records. As an initial matter, the court notes that "[t]he parties agree that the latent fingerprints were compiled for 'law enforcement purposes.'" The court concludes that, based on the FBI's declaration as well as the attached exhibits consisting of correspondence from local law enforcement authorities, "the Zodiac case investigation is ongoing, and Plaintiff has presented no admissible evidence that the investigation has been completed or is inactive." Furthermore, the court finds that the FBI's "declaration contains a 'general showing' that disclosure of the fingerprints could interfere with local law enforcement agencies' ongoing investigations of the Zodiac case" because release of the records could result in notification of the subject and allow him to evade capture by law enforcement authorities.

Council on Am.-Islamic Relations, Cal. v. FBI, No. 09-823, 2010 WL 4024806 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 12, 2010) (Gonzalez, J.). The court holds that the FBI's assertion of Exemption 7(A) to protect certain categories of investigatory records was appropriate. Despite plaintiffs' claim that the FBI failed to establish that an investigation is pending, the court finds that the FBI has established that "there is a pending investigation related to the requested information" and "has identified specific potential harms associated with the release of the information."

Gray v. U.S. Army Crim. Investigation Command, No. 09-1310, 2010 WL 3833937 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2010) (Sullivan, J.). As a preliminary matter, the Court finds that "records compiled for a pending administrative disciplinary action may fall within Exemption 7(A)." The court also concludes that even though "the U.S. Attorney's Office has declined prosecution," defendants have shown that a "proceeding is pending or at least reasonably anticipated" where "the U.S. Army is still considering whether to take disciplinary action against the subjects of the investigation." However, the court ultimately holds that the agency's "conclusory, boilerplate statements, without reference to specific documents or even categories of documents," which "appear designed to cover every scenario in which a plaintiff seeks the disclosure of records related to a law enforcement proceeding," are not sufficient to support its assertion of Exemption 7(A).

Cuban v. SEC, No. 09-0996, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99664 (D.D.C. Sept. 22, 2010) (Walton, J.). The SEC properly asserted Exemption 7(A) to withhold records that derive from an active and ongoing personnel investigation. The court finds that "the defendant's showing is sufficient even though it has not specifically described the basis for the non-disclosure in each instance, because extensive specificity is not required for Exemption 7(A) where providing such detail would undermine the precise reason for the non-disclosure." The court determines that the SEC "described in sufficient detail the records that it has withheld and the harm that could befall the agency if these records are prematurely released" and, additionally, it demonstrated that disclosure "might reveal its investigative strategy and findings concerning the investigation before they are finalized."

Fox News Network, LLC v. SEC, No. 09-2641, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98232 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 14, 2010) (Rakoff, J.). The SEC properly asserted Exemption 7(A) to fully withhold the documents responsive to the request. The court notes that the SEC's declarations detail that disclosure of the documents "'in whole or in part, could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings in SEC v. Stanford and with the SEC's ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fraud.'" Additionally, the SEC's declaration also "explains how revealing non-public information could harm the SEC's ability to litigate the current or future enforcement actions, would reveal the identity of individuals who may have confidential information, prematurely give witnesses and defendants information on litigation strategy, or enable others to identify those who have provided information to the SEC and thus enabling them to seek to intimidate them." The court notes that its in camera inspection of a sampling of the documents "confirms the validity of Exemption 7(A) and the potential harm to the SEC's enforcement actions were the documents to be produced."

Amnesty Int'l USA v. CIA, No. 07-5435, 2010 WL 3033822 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2010) (Preska, J.). Upon reviewing its public and classified declarations, the court concluded that the CIA properly invoked Exemption 7(A) because a "law enforcement proceeding was pending,""records have been compiled for a law enforcement purposes" in connection with CIA OIG investigations, and disclosure of information could reasonably be expected to interfere with those ongoing investigations.

Quinto v. DOJ, No. 09-2068, 2010 WL 1882164 (D.D.C. May 11, 2010) (Huvelle, J.). "The records at issue here - communications to the BOP from the U.S. Attorney's office regarding an inmate's placement within the network of institutions under BOP control - are clearly related to the enforcement of federal laws. . . . There is a direct relationship between the BOP's duty to ensure the safety of inmates, staff, and the community and its professional decisions as to where and how to house inmates."

Banks v. DOJ, No. 06-1950, 2010 WL 1172593 (D.D.C. Mar. 26, 2010) (Sullivan, J.) (parties' motions for summary judgment denied without prejudice). Exemption 7 (threshold). Defendant BOP failed to show that the records it withheld under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F) were compiled for law enforcement purposes. "[T]he agency appears to rely solely on its status as a law enforcement agency as the premise from which the Court should conclude that any record it maintains was compiled for law enforcement purposes." This is insufficient.

Bilderbeek v. DOJ, No. 08-1931, 2010 WL 1049618 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 22, 2010) (Antoon, J.). "Despite the [plaintiffs'] protestations that the DEA has been 'duped' into investigating their purported criminal activity, the Court concludes that a plausible basis existed for the agency's decision to investigate. . . . In light of Plaintiff's own statement that Colombian government officials implicated them in violations of federal law, a plausible basis for the DEA's decision to investigate Plaintiffs and their company existed."

Sellers v. DOJ, No. 08-0840, 2010 WL 545939 (D.D.C. Feb. 17, 2010) (Kennedy, J.). The FBI's declaration establishes that the responsive records were "'compiled as a result of the FBI's legitimate law enforcement activities,'" and plaintiff does not dispute that.

Lasko v. DOJ, No. 08-1850, 2010 WL 537551 (D.D.C. Feb. 17, 2010) (Friedman, J.). "The DEA has met its threshold obligation by showing that . . . the responsive records [including investigation reports, reports of drugs seized, an arrest warrant, and a criminal complaint] were compiled for law enforcement purposes."

Karantsalis v. DOJ, No. 09-22910 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 14, 2009) (Huck, J.) (slip op.). As an initial matter, the court finds that the two responsive mug shot photos meet the threshold of Exemption 7. "[I]t is clear the booking photographs were compiled for a law enforcement purposes because the Marshals Service is a law enforcement agency tasked with the 'receipt, processing and transportation of prisoners held in the custody of a marshal or transported by the U.S. Marshals Service.'"

Wolfson v. United States, No. 09-0304, 2009 WL 4186045 (D.D.C. Nov. 30, 2009) (Huvelle, J.). The records, which "'were compiled in connection with a criminal investigation into violations of [inter alia] federal law involving racketeering activity, wire fraud, [and] money laundering,'" are law enforcement records.

United Am. Fin., Inc. v. Potter, No. 06-1023, 2009 WL 3583567 (D.D.C. Nov. 3, 2009) (Bates, J.). Because defendant OIG used Exemption 7 for documents compiled in connection with its investigation of plaintiff on both civil and criminal fraud charges, the documents in question meet the Exemption 7 threshold, even though no charges were ultimately brought against plaintiff.

Zavala v. DEA, No. 08-2215, 2009 WL 3617481 (D.D.C. Nov. 4, 2009) (Friedman, J.). DEA has demonstrated that the responsive documents, which were compiled in the course of its investigation of plaintiff on drug charges, qualify as law enforcement records.

Abou-Hussein v. Gates, No. 08-783, 2009 WL 3078876 (D.D.C. Sept. 25, 2009) (Leon, J.). "[T]he Court concludes that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff has wholly failed to adduce any evidence raising a genuine dispute as to defendants' compliance with FOIA."

Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free v. DOE, No. 06-205 (D. Wyo. Opinion on Sept. 24, 2007, supplemental order issued Sept. 14, 2009). The court disagrees with DOE's claim that the accident scenario documents currently constitute law enforcement records. The documents were originally produced as part of an effort to demonstrate the safety of the ATR. Accepting DOE's argument that they are now being used as part of DOE's law enforcement responsibility to protect the ATR would allow DOE to withhold virtually any document in any way connected to the ATR. Such a result would be contrary to the FOIA's intent. DOE is ordered to provide the documents for in camera review along with an expert who can analyze them for the court so that the court may determine if any portions of the documents qualify as law enforcement documents.

Jordan v. DOJ, No. 07-02303, 2009 WL 2913223 (D. Colo. Sept. 8, 2009) (Blackburn, J.) (adopting magistrate's recommendation). "The Court has no doubt that BOP is, indeed, a law enforcement agency" and that its "personnel are hired to enforce the law."

Lardner v. DOJ, No. 08-1398, 2009 WL 2341719 (D.D.C. July 31, 2009) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.). OPA has not argued that it is a law enforcement agency. Even if it were held to be one, the Court finds that it has not established that the records plaintiff requested are law enforcement records. Though clemency application files may well be law enforcement records, this does not mean that lists of clemency applicants are law enforcement records, as these lists "'exist[] independently of the clemency file on any applicant.'" The fact that the lists are maintained in the same database as the actual application files does not change this analysis. OPA's claim that the lists are created using the clemency applications themselves is unsupported by the record.

Updated: February 2013
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For a full list of upcoming events, visit our Key Dates page.
To access DOJ documents that are posted online by OIP, please visit the FOIA Library.
For government-wide FOIA information including how to make a FOIA request to other federal agencies, please visit FOIA.GOV.
General Information Office of Information Policy
 
Leadership
Melanie Ann Pustay
Director
Contact
Office of Information Policy
(202) 514 - FOIA (3642)
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