Evans v. Legislative Affairs Div., ATF, No. 6:12-cv-00641-JMC, 2013 WL 708941 (D.S.C. Feb. 26, 2013) (Childs, J.)

Date: 
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Re: Request for records concerning the agent involved in plaintiff's arrest Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
  • Exemption 7C: The court rejects plaintiff's argument that disclosure of the information requested concerning the agent involved in his arrest [i.e. verification of the agent's employment by ATF at the time of plaintiff's trial] will serve the public interest. The court notes that "[p]laintiff presents no actual or circumstantial evidence of misconduct; he presents only conclusory assertions that [the agent] framed him for drug possession. Furthermore, Plaintiff does not explain how confirmation that [the agent] worked for ATF at the time of the arrest will 'confirm or refute' evidence of the alleged misconduct." Accordingly, since plaintiff has not presented evidence sufficient to outweigh the agent's privacy rights, the court finds that plaintiff is not entitled to the employment verification that he seeks.
  • Public domain/waiver: The court also reject's plaintiff's contention that ATF waived the right to assert Exemption 7(C) because the agent testified at plaintiff's trial. The court notes that "even if the identities of agents and witnesses have become known during a trial, an agency's decision to withhold names and other identifying information under Exemption 7(C) is justified."
  • Adequacy of search: The court finds that plaintiff's arguments concerning the adequacy of ATF's search are moot. "Since the court determines that Plaintiff is not entitled to the employment verification requested, his objection that Defendant did not conduct an adequate search because it did not search for [the agent's name] in its system is moot." In addition, the court is persuaded that "Defendant produced sufficient evidence to show that it was not in control of the" report concerning plaintiff's arrest that plaintiff also sought. ATF argued that it searched for records concerning plaintiff and located no responsive information and "further asserted that information related to his arrest and criminal trial would likely reside with the prosecuting assistant United States Attorney."
Topic: 
Adequacy of Search
District Court
Exemption 7C
Public Domain
Waiver
Updated August 6, 2014