Earle v. DOJ, No. 16-0629, 2016 WL 6662249 (D.D.C. Nov. 10, 2016) (Jackson, J.)
Re: Request for "'Grand Jury's Tax Number'"
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
- Litigation Considerations, Jurisdiction: "[The] Court feels constrained to go on to determine that if it has jurisdiction, judgment should be entered in favor of defendants." The court relates that "[d]efendants take the position that the Court lacks jurisdiction to review a FOIA request for material that does not exist since the statute would not apply in that circumstance[.]" The court finds that while "a court in this district has ruled, 'if it can be established through affidavits that no "agency records" responsive to the Plaintiff's requests were found . . . after a good faith, reasonable search was conducted, no jurisdiction remains' because agency records must exist to be improperly withheld." "There is also Circuit authority that suggests that the inquiry into sufficiency of the allegation that the agency has improperly withheld records is a merits-based inquiry." Therefore, the court goes on to address defendant's argument that, "in the alternative, . . . judgment should be entered in favor of defendants since they have complied with their FOIA obligations."
- Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records: "[T]he Court will enter judgment in favor of defendants." The court finds that "defendants have submitted a declaration amply demonstrating that a search would be futile because the documents in question do not exist." The court finds that "[defendant's declarant's] conclusion is based on his personal knowledge, as well as information provided by other knowledgeable officials." The court also finds that "[p]laintiff's proffer of hearsay information he received from 'a [j]ailhouse lawyer' that all indictments 'must be filed to the tax [d]ivision . . . and given a tax number,' . . . is not enough to put the agency's good faith into doubt."