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Burwell v. EOUSA, No. 15-1515, 2016 WL 5415619 (D.D.C. Sept. 28, 2016) (Leon, J.)


Burwell v. EOUSA, No. 15-1515, 2016 WL 5415619 (D.D.C. Sept. 28, 2016) (Leon, J.)

Re: Request for certain grand jury information concerning plaintiff

Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search: "[T]he Court will grant summary judgment to defendant on this aspect of the FOIA claim." The court relates that "EOUSA's declarant" searched "the only location responsive records were likely to be found" and "avers that 'the search was conducted utilizing methods which should identify any responsive records,' that she knows of 'no other files or sources of documents within this office and no other location in the office' where there might be responsive records, and that she knows of no other methods that could have been employed to locate additional responsive records." The court also finds that "[plaintiff's] inconsistent arguments [including "his 'main argument . . . that the agency knows the records don’t [sic] exist'"] simply fail to create a materially factual dispute about the reasonableness of the search or to call into question the sufficiently detailed declaration describing the search."
  • Exemption 7(C): "The Court therefore finds EOUSA's minimal withholding of third-party names from the released indictment proper." The court relates that EOUSA withheld "the names of the Special Assistant United States Attorney . . . and the grand jury foreperson." The court finds that "[i]n the absence of an overriding public interest, the 'nondisclosure of names or other information identifying individuals appearing in law enforcement records' is routinely upheld." Additionally, the court finds that "[p]laintiff has not asserted, let alone shown by probative evidence, that the withheld names are necessary to 'shed any light on the [unlawful] conduct of any Government agency or official.'"
  • Waiver: The court finds that "the fact that plaintiff has obtained 'a copy of the unredacted indictment,' either from the district court or from a private investigator, . . . is inconsequential because it does not constitute an 'official disclosure' that waives EOUSA's right to assert any applicable FOIA exemptions."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(C)
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Waiver and Discretionary Disclosure
Updated January 13, 2022