Frankenberry v. FBI, No. 13-1704, 2014 WL 1924478 (3rd Cir. May 15, 2014) (McKee, C.J.)

Date: 
Thursday, May 15, 2014

Frankenberry v. FBI, No. 13-1704, 2014 WL 1924478 (3rd Cir. May 15, 2014) (McKee, C.J.)

Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff's criminal trial

Disposition: Affirming district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 7(C):  The Third Circuit holds that "the district court did not clearly err by granting the FBI's motion for summary judgment on Exemption 7(C)."  First, the Third Circuit finds that "[b]ased on [the] information [provided], the district court found that the FBI made reasonable efforts to determine the life status of the individuals upon whose behalf it claimed a privacy interest" and the "district court therefore had an adequate factual basis for this determination, and its conclusion was not clearly erroneous."  The Third Circuit relates that "the district court found [that] the FBI reviewed the available records and cross-referenced information from prior FOIA requests and internal records in its attempt to determine the life status of non-FBI employees," "attempted to search the Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting database but was unable to do so because the responsive documents lacked these individuals' birth dates and social security numbers," and "could not determine the life status of its retired employees because it lacked their birth dates and social security numbers."  Second, the Third Circuit finds that "the district court properly found that [plaintiff] failed to show a relevant public interest" because "[plaintiff] relies only on a vague assertion that the requested material 'may' reveal information proving FBI misconduct."
  • Exemption 7(D):  The Third Circuit holds that "the district court did not clearly err by granting the FBI's motion for summary judgment on Exemption 7(D)."  First, the Third Circuit finds that "the district court properly found that the FBI withheld some of the documents because they contain a source to whom the FBI had expressly granted confidentiality."  Second, the Third Circuit finds that "the district court adequately determined that the FBI withheld the remaining documents under an implied assurance of confidentiality."  The Third Circuit explains that "the district court concluded that the nature of the investigation and the sources' relationship to the investigation demonstrated that the information was provided under an implied assurance of confidentiality."
  • Exemption 7(E):  The Third Circuit holds that "the district court's grant of summary judgment to the FBI on these documents had an adequate factual basis and was not clearly erroneous."  The Third Circuit explains that the documents at issue "reveal[] the effectiveness of certain investigative techniques and releasing [them] could thus risk circumvention of the law."
Topic: 
District Court
Exemption 7C
Exemption 7D
Exemption 7E
Updated October 6, 2014