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Cobar v. DOJ, No. 12-1222, 2015 WL 858802 (D.D.C. Feb. 27, 2015) (Huvelle, J.)


Cobar v. DOJ, No. 12-1222, 2015 WL 858802 (D.D.C. Feb. 27, 2015) (Huvelle, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning third party who testified at plaintiff's trial

Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Waiver, Exemption 7(D):  "[T]he Court rejects plaintiff's contention that official confirmation of a confidential source in any way diminishes the protection offered by Exemption 7(D)."  The court explains that "[w]hile the general rule on public disclosure suggests that such information might no longer be protected, 'Exemption 7(D) differs from other FOIA exemptions in that its applicability depends not on the specific factual contents of a particular document; instead, the pertinent question is whether the information at issue was furnished by a "confidential source" during the course of a legitimate criminal law investigation.'"  Additionally, the court finds that "[t]o the extent plaintiff is arguing that public knowledge of a confidential source's identity precludes application of 7(D) to protect information provided by that source, that proposition is clearly wrong."
  • Exemption 7(D):  The court holds that, "with one possible exception, defendant has properly applied Exemption 7(D) to withhold the responsive records."  The court finds that "[a]ll of the following documents include information that would identify the confidential source, information that would tend to identify the confidential source, and/or information provided by the confidential source that is protected from disclosure by Exemption 7(D)."  However, the court finds that "[b]ased on defendant's declaration and Vaughn index, and the Court's in camera review, the Court is not persuaded that all of the information in [seven confidential source agreements] has been properly withheld."  "Specifically, it does not appear that any of the generic conditions set forth in the Confidential Source Agreement, standing alone, qualify for protection under Exemption 7(D)."
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "The Court is satisfied by defendant's Vaughn index and supplemental declaration, and by its own in camera review, that there is no reasonably segregable, non-exempt information in the properly withheld documents."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(D)
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Waiver and Discretionary Disclosure
Updated December 9, 2021