Thursday, September 22, 2016
Ford v. DOJ, No. 15-0808, 2016 WL 5314064 (D.D.C. Sept. 22, 2016) (Howell, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff
Disposition: Granting defendants' motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 3: The court finds that, "[r]egardless of whether grand jury testimony might support the plaintiff's claim of innocence, the EOUSA adequately demonstrates that release of the grand jury transcripts impermissibly would reveal the identity of a witness, evidence before the grand jury and the source of that evidence." "Its decision to withhold grand jury information under Exemption 3 [in conjunction with Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)] is proper."
- Exemption 7, Threshold: The court holds that "the FBI easily demonstrates, and the plaintiff does not dispute, that the responsive records were compiled for law enforcement purposes and fall within the scope of Exemption 7." The court relates that "[t]he FBI . . . explains that the Bureau 'is the primary investigative agency of the federal government . . .'" and "the FBI conducted a 'criminal investigation of [the p]laintiff for a bank robbery[.]'"
- Exemption 7(C): The court holds that, "[a]bsent a showing by the plaintiff of a public interest to outweigh the third parties' privacy interest, the FBI’s decision to withhold the identities of the FBI agent or agents under Exemption 7(C) is appropriate." The court explains that "plaintiff [cannot] establish that the 'indirect public purpose' of 'ensuring fair criminal trials' can, 'in the absence of compelling evidence of agency misconduct, . . . outweigh the substantial privacy interests' of the third parties." Also, because plaintiff does not mention them, "[t]he Court . . . treats as conceded the FBI's arguments for withholding all the other third party information under Exemption 7(C)."
- Exemption 7(D): The court holds that, "[b]ased on the declarant's explanation of the cooperative arrangements the FBI maintains with local law enforcement agencies, and this local law enforcement agency's specific request that the information it provided not be disclosed, the FBI adequately demonstrates that its reliance on Exemption 7(D) is proper."
- Exemption 7(E): While "[t]he plaintiff fails to address these arguments, and the Court treats them as conceded[,]" "the Court finds that the FBI's justification for withholding is adequate." The plaintiff does take issue with "the FBI's decision to withhold 'in its entirety responsive video containing bank surveillance.'" However, the court finds that "[e]ven if some cameras are 'visible' as a deterrent, other cameras may be placed at angles or in areas unknown to the public and disclosure of this information could, as the FBI points out, 'provide criminals the necessary information to circumvent the very purpose of a bank surveillance system, making banks more vulnerable to bank robberies and/or other criminal activity, and therefore circumvent the law.'"
- Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements: "Based on the defendants’ supporting declarations, the Court concludes that the FBI and the EOUSA adequately specified 'which portions of the document[s] are disclosable and which are allegedly exempt.'"
Updated January 19, 2017