Black v. DOJ, No. 13-1195, 2014 WL 4696744 (D.D.C. Sept. 23, 2014) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Black v. DOJ, No. 13-1195, 2014 WL 4696744 (D.D.C. Sept. 23, 2014) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)

Re: Request for documents concerning third parties

Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment

  • Waiver:  First, the court finds that "[p]laintiff has failed to meet his burden of production and thus cannot invoke the public domain doctrine."  The court explains that "[p]laintiff ultimately fails to point to specific information identical to that being withheld that has been placed in the permanent public record."  "Although these documents show that the existence of the requested tapes has been referenced in the public domain, they in no way indicate that any portion of the content of the tapes themselves has been entered into the public record."

    Second, "the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden of producing evidence of a significant public interest" and, "[i]n the absence of any public interest in disclosure, the countervailing interest in privacy defeats Plaintiff's FOIA request."  "The Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to present 'compelling evidence that the agency is engaged in illegal activity' or activity with which the public would be concerned."  The court further explains that "[e]ven assuming Plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to 'warrant a belief by a reasonable person that the alleged Government impropriety might have occurred,' . . . case law in this Circuit is clear that simply seeking to expose a single Brady violation 'would not serve the FOIA's purpose of showing 'what the Government is up to.''"
  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index / Declaration:  The court holds that "[p]laintiff is incorrect that Defendants needed to produce a Vaughn index justifying their withholding of specific documents or specific parts of documents because, as the Court has found, Defendants did not even need to conduct a search in response to Plaintiff's FOIA request."  "All of the records Plaintiff requested only contained information implicating third parties in law enforcement investigations and were thus exempt from disclosure under Exemption 7(C)."

District Court
Litigation Considerations
Vaughn Index
Updated January 29, 2015