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Allen v. BOP, No. 16-0708, 2019 WL 498804 (D.D.C. Feb. 8, 2019) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)


Allen v. BOP, No. 16-0708, 2019 WL 498804 (D.D.C. Feb. 8, 2019) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff's TRULINCS suspension

Disposition:  Granting in part and denying in part defendant's third renewed motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  The court holds that, "[b]ased on the declarant's explanation that records pertaining to an inmate routinely are maintained in his central file . . . it is reasonable for BOP staff to have searched the central file for records responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request."  "The fact that the attachments to the SIS Report were not found in plaintiff's central file does not undermine the reasonableness of the decision to search the central file initially."  "And the Court does not fault BOP for having conducted a supplemental search prompted by the Court's mistaken impression that it had located responsive records in plaintiff's central file and withheld them without explanation."
  • Exemption 7, Threshold:  "The Court concludes that the TRULINCS Report was compiled for law enforcement purposes and thus falls within the scope of Exemption 7."  The court finds that "[e]ven if denying plaintiff TRULINCS access required extra monitoring of his activities, it is apparent that BOP engages in a law enforcement function when it takes steps to detect or prevent criminal conduct by an inmate, particularly an inmate whose incarceration did not deter him from filing fraudulent tax returns and instructing his fellow inmates to do so."
  • Exemption 7(C):  The court holds that "BOP adequately demonstrates that its decision to withhold the names of and other personally identifying information about third parties mentioned in the SIS Report and attachments is proper."  The court explains that "[i]n this Circuit, there exists 'a categorical rule permitting an agency to withhold information identifying private citizens mentioned in law enforcement records, unless disclosure is "necessary in order to confirm or refute compelling evidence that the agency is engaged in illegal activity."'"  "Plaintiff has made no such showing, and the Court is satisfied that there is no public interest in disclosure to outweigh these third parties' privacy interest."
  • Exemption 7(E):  The court holds that "[i]nvestigative and interview techniques qualify for protection under Exemption 7(E)."  "BOP adequately meets Exemption 7(E)'s 'relatively low bar,' . . . because its declarant 'demonstrate[s] logically how the release of the requested information might create a risk of circumvention of the law. . . . '"
  • Exemption 7(F):  "The Court concludes that BOP properly withholds under Exemption 7(F) identifying information about individuals who involved themselves in plaintiff's schemes and who cooperated with or were subjects of the SIS investigation."  The court finds that, "[w]ith respect to CIM information, however, BOP does not demonstrate adequately that its release poses a risk to any individual's life or physical safety."  The court relates that "[i]n light of the SIS Report's finding that plaintiff 'was disrupting the secure and orderly running of FCI Coleman' by means of his fraudulent activities, the declarant states that BOP provided CIM 'monitoring . . . to provide protection to all concerned and to contribute to the safe and orderly operation of federal institutions.'"  "The declarant does not explain, however, how release of CIM information pertaining to plaintiff potentially endangers the life or physical safety of any individual."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(E)
Exemption 7(F)
Exemption 7, Threshold
Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records
Updated December 13, 2021