Mary Snyder Barry, FOIA Counsel
Office of the General Counsel
Executive Office for U.S. Trustees
United States Department of Justice
441 G Street, N.W., Suite 6150
Washington, D.C. 20530
FOIA requests must be made in writing and may be sent to the above address or submitted electronically via email at USTPFOIA.Requests@justice.gov. Requests should include a return address that identifies your street name/number so that we may respond via certified mail. For further guidance, see 28 C.F.R. 16.3 (“Requirements for Making Requests”).
A FOIA request must sufficiently describe the specific records sought, so as to enable USTP staff to conduct a search for the requested records with a reasonable amount of effort. Likewise to minimize search and related fees please specify which USTP region or office you are inquiring about. While the Executive Office maintains certain administrative records, case files are not centralized in Washington, and USTP regional and field offices maintain duplicate copies of certain court pleadings and material concerning specific cases. Accordingly, all FOIA requests for USTP records should identify a case name, particular judicial district, filing date/location, and/or specific USTP office(s) where responsive records may exist.
Please note that the Act does not require agencies to "create" or explain records. Requests should thus be formulated so as to seek existing records that can be furnished unless they fall within a specific exemption (e.g., classified national security matters; personal privacy material; investigative files; trade secrets and privileged information; etc.). 5 U.S.C. 552(b).
If you seek records pertaining to another person, that information is usually not disclosed unless you have obtained the other person's written consent, the other person is deceased, or release is required by law.
A FOIA request generally need not contain a verification of identity for access to publicly available records. However, individuals seeking records protected by the Privacy Act may be required to provide a privacy waiver from the record subject or the like.
A requester may be required to pay all applicable fees for search, review, and/or duplication of requested records, in accordance with Department of Justice FOIA regulations (28 C.F.R. 16.11).
Absent an express agreement to pay all applicable fees, the submission of a FOIA request is deemed an agreement to pay fees up to $25. (28 C.F.R. 16.3(c).) If, in such circumstances, we estimate that fees may exceed $25 after reviewing your request, you will be so notified in accordance with 28 C.F.R. 16.11(e)-(i).
Once USTP staff has processed your request and any fee issues have been resolved, USTP staff will send you a written initial determination. The FOIA provides access to federal agency records, or portions of those records, except to the extent those records are protected by any of the FOIA's nine exemptions or three law enforcement exclusions. The determination letter will advise you of whether any information is being withheld pursuant to one or more of the exemptions. When a page of a record is being withheld in its entirety, USTP staff ordinarily will specify the number of pages being withheld or make a reasonable effort to estimate the volume of the withheld information. Where a page of a record is being withheld in part, the withheld portions of the page ordinarily will be specifically marked with the applicable exemptions.
The FOIA's nine exemptions authorize federal agencies to withhold information covering: (1) classified national defense and foreign relations information; (2) internal agency rules and practices; (3) information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law; (4) trade secrets and other confidential commercial or financial information; (5) inter-agency or intra-agency communications that are protected by legal privileges; (6) information involving matters of personal privacy; (7) records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, to the extent that the production of those records (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of and/or information provided by a confidential source, (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual; (8) information relating to the supervision of financial institutions; and (9) geological information on wells. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b).
Congress also provided special protection in the FOIA for three narrow categories of law enforcement and national security records; the provisions protecting those records are known as “exclusions.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b) The first exclusion protects the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. The second exclusion is limited to criminal law enforcement agencies and protects the existence of informant records when the informant’s status has not been officially confirmed. The third exclusion is limited to the FBI and protects the existence of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records when the existence of such records is classified. Records falling within an exclusion are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA. So, when USTP staff respond to your request, the response will be limited to those records that are subject to the FOIA.
Review of initial adverse determinations is available by writing to the Office of Information & Privacy, U.S. Department of Justice, 1425 New York Ave., NW, Suite 11050, Washington, DC 20530-0001, or you may submit an appeal through the Office of Information Policy’s eFOIA portal at http://www.justice.gov/oip/efoia-portal.html, within 60 days of the letter denying your request, as more fully set forth in 28 C.F.R. 16.9.