Thursday, September 19, 2013
Re: First party request for plaintiff's alien file and copies of emails sent to and/or received from certain named individuals Disposition: Granting USCIS's motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 5: After conducting an in camera review of documents on which the court previously deferred its ruling, the court finds that certain notes are indeed "predecisional notes taken by an agency employee" and covered by Exemption 5 and the deliberative process privilege. "Although undated, the notes' discussion of events that occurred in 2010 provide[s] some indication of the time at which they were written." The court's review of the notes and allegations presented by plaintiff in a prior proceeding make it "clear that these notes are deliberative and predecisional relative to the processing of [plaintiff's] second form I-485." Accordingly, the court grants summary judgment to USCIS with respect to the notes. The court also finds that certain emails withheld in whole or in part were appropriately withheld because they are "both deliberative and predecisional relative the issuance of a Notice to Appear." After conducting an in camera review, the court finds that a memorandum from an USCIS officer to an Assistant United States Attorney, another memorandum referencing the case number and a timeline of events, and a memorandum from a USCIS counsel to a USCIS Director were all "subject to the work product privilege" and properly withheld pursuant to Exemption 5. The court finally concludes that the final page of a "four page email, with draft document attached" was also properly withheld pursuant to Exemption 5. USCIS's supplementary affidavit "makes clear [that] the original Vaughn index inadvertently omitted this page number when providing an explanation relative to" the preceding pages.
Updated August 6, 2014