Thursday, January 24, 2013
Re: Request for records relating to plaintiff's asylum application Disposition: Granting in part defendant's motion for summary judgment as to propriety of withholdings under Exemption 5; ordering further briefing on plaintiff's request for a declaratory judgment and injunction
- Exemption 5/Deliberative Process Privilege: The court "finds that the [defendant's declaration] logically links the elements of the deliberative process privilege to the Assessment." The Assessment summarizes the evidence gathered by an Immigration Asylum Officer and explains the Officer's findings. The court notes that the '''predecisional' nature of the Assessment is clear, given that it predated and formed the basis for [the defendant's] decision to deny the plaintiff's asylum application." The court also notes that the document is deliberative because it "'does not purport to be a verbatim transcript of the [p]laintiff's asylum interview,' but rather is 'a selective recording of information the [Immigration] asylum officer deemed particularly pertinent to [the p]laintiff's request for asylum.'" The court concludes, "[t]here being no contrary evidence or proof of bad faith on the agency's part, the [defendant's] declaration suffices to carry the defendant's burden at the summary judgment stage." Segregability: "The Court concludes that the defendant has provided an adequate justification for the non-segregability of the Assessment." The declaration "states that the agency conducted a line-by-line review of the document to ensure it contained no segregable, nonexempt information" and that "any 'purely factual' portions of the Assessment could not be extracted from the document without revealing the asylum officer's discretionary prioritization of the pertinent facts."
- Procedural: Plaintiff "appears to be seeking a declaratory judgment that the defendant's administrative responses to her FOIA request violated 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(I), and an injunction barring such violations in the future." The court orders supplemental briefing on this issue because the "defendant fails to respond directly to these arguments in its reply brief."
Updated August 6, 2014