Monday, February 9, 2015
Bartko v. DOJ, No. 13-1135, 2015 WL 513272 (D.D.C. Feb. 9, 2015) (Boasberg, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff
Disposition: Granting defendant's partial motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment
- Exemptions 6 and 7(C): The court holds that defendant correctly used Exemptions 6 and 7(C). "[T]he Court may only address whether [defendant] has properly withheld these documents under Exemption 7(C), and there is no need to consider the higher bar of Exemption 6." The court first finds that the "threshold question [is] answered" because the records "all relate to an IRS criminal investigation." Regarding the privacy interests, the court finds that "it is well established that 'individuals have a strong interest in not being associated unwarrantedly with alleged criminal activity.'" Additionally, the court finds that "[i]t is not just the subject of the investigation who has privacy rights, however." "'[T]hird parties who may be mentioned in investigatory files, as well as ... witnesses and informants who provided information during the course of an investigation,' have a privacy interest in the contents of law-enforcement records." Regarding the public interest, the court finds that because "[p]laintiff does not even assay this hurdle, the Court cannot find he has surmounted it." "In an ultimate balancing, something in the privacy bowl outweighs nothing in the public-interest bowl every time."
- Procedural Requirements, "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation: "The Court . . . concludes that the IRS has passed the segregability examination." The court explains that, "[a]lthough [defendant's] testimony on segregability is somewhat conclusory, . . . the Court sees no reason here to question it." "The documents at issue are all memoranda of witness interviews." "Since any disclosure of the identity of either the subject of the investigation or witnesses would be improper, it is highly unlikely that any material in these memoranda could be released without compromising such information."
Updated June 26, 2015