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BuzzFeed Inc. v. DOJ, No. 22-1812, 2023 WL 4246103 (2d Cir. June 29, 2023) (per curiam)


BuzzFeed Inc. v. DOJ, No. 22-1812, 2023 WL 4246103 (2d Cir. June 29, 2023) (per curiam)

Re:  Request for disclosure of information contained in Office of Inspector General (OIG) report concerning misconduct by a former Executive Officer of DOJ

Disposition:  Affirming district court’s grant of defendant’s motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 7(C):  The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit “agree[s] with the district court that the redacted information – namely, the Subject’s identity – is exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 7(C).”  The court “recognize[s] that in this case, the Subject’s rank, the seriousness of his wrongdoing, and an absence of other means to acquire the Subject’s identity weigh in favor of disclosure.”  “However, based on the information already disclosed in the Report, disclosure of the Subject’s identity would do little to ‘shed[ ] light on government activity’ and advance the core purpose of FOIA.”  The court relates that “[the requester] identified the following public interest in its FOIA request:  ‘The subject of the records is misconduct by a now-former senior official at the Justice Department.  The records are likely to contribute to the general public’s understanding of its government because they will reveal details about the extent of misconduct by a public official, how the department responded to the allegations, and the factual underpinnings of the inspector general’s findings.’”  The court finds that “[t]he redacted Report DOJ already disclosed to [the requester] largely satisfies this public interest and FOIA’s core purpose more broadly.”  “The comprehensive fifteen-page report discloses the facts surrounding the misconduct that occurred, sets forth DOJ’s policy, and includes the OIG’s finding that the Subject violated DOJ’s policy.”  “Revealing the identity of the Subject would do little to further advance the public interest identified by [the requester] given that the Subject has since retired.”  “In weighing the interest in disclosure against the private interest at stake, [the court is] mindful that disclosure of the Subject’s identity not only implicates the Subject’s privacy but creates a risk that the victims, third-party witnesses, and those close to the situation may be identified.”  “[The requester] has not submitted evidence disputing DOJ’s affidavit identifying a risk that disclosure of the Subject’s identity would impact the privacy interests of the victims and third parties involved in this matter.”  “Moreover, as noted above, the Subject’s retired status increases his privacy interest.”
Court Decision Topic(s)
Court of Appeals opinions
Exemption 7(C)
Updated August 8, 2023